What Is Programmatic Marketing?


Has anyone come up with a decent answer to this one? I like Digiday’s stab at defining programmatic advertising:

“The use of software to purchase digital advertising, as opposed to the traditional process that involves RFPs, human negotiations and manual insertion orders. It’s using machines to buy ads, basically.”

And that’s true but I think it only captures an element, not the essence of programmatic marketing. As an industry, I would argue that one of the reasons there isn’t yet a commonly accepted definition is that we’re still figuring this out.

We recently concluded a 4-month long series of roundtable discussions with more than 200 senior marketers. (You can download the report, Marketing in the Programmatic Age, here.) One key topic: what is programmatic marketing? Our panelists focused on the benefits of programmatic approaches.

Customer, meet Engagement
Programmatic allows marketers to actually start to deliver on the promise of individual engagement. Programmatic software allows you to deliver the right message to the right person, at (wait for it) the right time.

Media can learn. And teach
Programmatic empowers marketers to buy people rather than placement. And the software, properly built, provides a feedback loop that automatically learns (i.e. optimizes) and provides insights that the marketer can use to learn about their audiences.

Scale for a shattered customer journey
Panelists see programmatic automation consuming all channels in the near future (software eats marketing!). In the face of accelerating audience fragmentation, programmatic is seen as the only way to reach a desired audience at scale.

Efficiency for all the things
Programmatic offers the promise of “frictionless transactions” (in contrast to manual sales and delivery processes) but also the ability to deliver a seamless customer experience across channels and devices.

The need for speed
Marketers are being asked to do more than ever before, and often with smaller budgets. Programmatic is real-time and allows marketers to execute their plans more quickly and efficiently.

One of our panelists said, “Programmatic is the modernization of media.” How would you define it?