Programmatic Myths Confuted!


Published March 3, 2020

We have come a long way since the first banner advertisement that captured the collective curiosity of the online audience, so much so that it resulted in an unbelievable Click Through Rate (CTR) of 44%. Technology, as we know it today, has opened up new and more efficient channels for Advertisers to reach their customer pool. As much as we commend and employ new Ad Technologies, we seldom have a granular-level understanding of all its features. Programmatic Advertising, although very popular in the Ad-Tech space, is one of the most misunderstood technologies out there. With this blog, we intend to debunk the myths surrounding this mistaken technology.

Myth #1: Programmatic Advertising is only about Display Banners and Videos

Truth:Although Programmatic started off being all about Display Advertising, over the years, almost all forms of Digital Advertising have unified under the purview of Programmatic. As content consumers moved from desktops to tablets to mobiles, Programmatic expanded too, ensuring all channels were available at Advertisers’ and Publishers’ disposal. Connected TV (CTV), Programmatic Audio, and Programmatic Digital Billboards are the way to go in the future. A single ad can be viewed by a target customer, no matter what their preferred digital channel. Let’s set this straight: Programmatic is omnipresent.

Myth #2: Programmatic is a replacement for Google Display Network (GDN)

Truth:On the surface, Programmatic and GDN may feel like they are two peas in a pod. Yes, the two work with millions of partners to show intelligent, relevant, personalized ads to the right audience through a process of automated buying-selling. However, the similarities end here; the differences outweigh the similarities.

GDN is popular among display banner advertisers due to its ease of use. But, most advertisers confuse Programmatic Advertising as an alternative to GDN. Due to their deep-seated FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), many Advertisers end up choosing one over the other. Programmatic does not replace GDN. In fact, it is rather complementary to GDN’s offerings. Used with GDN, Programmatic can augment and refine the targeting parameters to reach a wider and relevant audience base as well as track and attribute conversions accurately. Here is a very easy-to-understand comparison of the two.

Feature Programmatic  GDN
System type An open, vendor-agnostic system with inventory across millions of ad exchanges and publishers. This allows for precise targeting using 3rd party data. Walled Garden, all partners opt into the Google AdSense network
Targeting Options Precise targeting and retargeting features such as Contextual, Geo-location based, Native, Device-ID based, IP-based targeting Limited targeting options
Pricing Model Mostly works on an eCPM model but starting to offer other types as well Offers a variety of pricing models, including CPC and CPA
Reporting Data reports available on a real-time basis – real-time actions based on real-time data insights Delay of up to three hours
CDP Compatibility Supports use of Customer Data Platform (CDP) to create unique customer profiles by combining online and offline data from multiple sources for insightful actionable items. Does not have CDP-like features
Futuristic Is ever-evolving; caters to all new media forms and channels such as Programmatic Audio, CTV Doesn’t support the new media channels as in Programmatic

Myth #3: With Programmatic, Advertisers can access only leftover inventory

Truth: At the onset of Programmatic, that might have been the case. Publishers preferred trading their premium inventory directly with interested buyers. Here, let’s start by quashing just one more of the Programmatic myths – Programmatic means Real-time Bidding. Today’s evolved Programmatic doesn’t just support real-time trading of ad inventory; Programmatic also supports direct inventory transactions. Programmatic Direct ensures quality inventory, which was earlier reserved by Publishers, becomes available via Programmatic Guaranteed and Preferred Deals. Even with the real-time bidding process, advertisers can access premium inventory that is not open to public trading using Private Marketplace transactions.

With publishers increasingly favoring Programmatic, Advertisers are now presented with a wide range of options from open marketing bidding to behind-the-doors preferred deals on numerous old and new channels.

Myth #4: Programmatic is good only for performance marketing

Truth: Undoubtedly,  Programmatic is a more secure and concrete method to track conversion attributions due to the granular insights provided to the Advertisers. As a result, a majority of the campaigns were initially run with the intention of tracking and attributing conversions. And with that, a new term was coined – ‘Performance Marketing’.

But it is not right to think that Programmatic advertising can only be used for Performance Marketing campaigns. In fact, when Programmatic is used for Branding Campaigns alongside traditional media channels such as TV, Radio, Print, and OOH, it tends to improve the effectiveness and reach of the campaigns. It goes without saying that, vis-a-vis traditional marketing, Programmatic is a more cost-effective option that not only gives more value for the buck but also addresses some complex cross-device or online-offline attribution problems.

Myth #5: Programmatic is light on the pocket

Truth: Programmatic offers a wide range of advertising inventory for Advertisers of all sizes and budgets. While one can access cheap impressions with Programmatic, these do not necessarily translate into quality impressions, meaning, Advertisers may spend less but not see the desired results. To achieve quantifiable results, they may need to pay slightly higher, which, in the long run, could effectively lower the CPC/CPA through continuous optimization of media buying strategies.

Myth #6: Programmatic Transparency is a Myth

Truth:  The truth really is, that with Programmatic, both the demand- and the supply-side players have greater access to their advertising data, an important characteristic the traditional Advertisers miss dearly. With technology-aided trading, all the players involved in the process have a better understanding of the ad performance metrics. Agreed, there have been a few concerns raised regarding digital ad fraud and bots, but Programmatic isn’t giving up just yet. There are measures being put in place to ensure these concerns are addressed with a more sustainable solution. With many digital partners offering both managed and self-serve models, they have greater control over how, where, and when their ads are being run. Tracking and reporting features are constantly evolving to meet the ever-changing transparency needs in the Programmatic eco-space.

Read our article about the questions you should be asking your partners with regards to transparency.

Myth #7: Last-click attribution: The sale comes from the last ad clicked

Truth: Attribution allows us to understand which Programmatic strategy and channel work best for our marketing expenditure. It allows us to modify our strategies and invest more time and effort in what works for us. Although there are many attribution models out there, Last-click Attribution is one of the more popular ones. Its popularity though doesn’t make it the right strategy. Programmatic allows Advertisers to precisely track and attribute conversions through various innovative solutions such as using a CDP. To know more about what not to do, read our blog on Last-click Attribution.

Myth #8: Programmatic doesn’t require human intervention

Truth:Programmatic uses algorithms to successfully enable the trading of online media between buyers and sellers. But that doesn’t make it a self-sustained, fully automated solution. A lot of this process is automated, but without the human element, campaigns wouldn’t be as successful. Artificial Intelligence is no myth but it still can’t replace the knowledge and experience humans have gathered over the years in drawing meaningful insights from a vast pool of data to optimize the media buying process. The engaging creatives and communication material is still a product of human creativity.

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