By now, most CMOs know that “programmatic” marketing can drive tremendous value for their companies. But if almost every CMO knows that programmatic works, the understanding of how it works often varies a great deal. As we race into the programmatic future, let’s take a quick step back to go over some of the fundamentals.

Defining programmatic marketing

Many marketers think of “programmatic” within the narrow scope automation and auction-based media transactions. We think of this as a “so 2008” mindset that harkens to a long-past time when programmatic still revolved around cheap remnant inventory.

Today, “programmatic” is no longer just a cost-saving tactic. Rather, it’s a tool that helps brands more accurately and efficiently engage customers through the precise targeting and messaging of consumer segments.

The case for programmatic marketing

While programmatic is delivering incredible value, it remains in its trial-and-error state. After all, it constitutes a new way of doing business, and advertisers and publishers alike are experimenting with ways to get the most out of the practice.

Private exchanges offer some promise for both, providing control to an-oft chaotic auction environment. The publisher can offer valued advertising partners exclusive access to premium inventory—keeping out undesirable brands in the process.

Though most advertisers are doing some amount of programmatic buying, the degree and sophistication varies a great deal. Those with a large amount of first-party data (such as financial services companies) and those that have invested in data-management tools (such as DMPs) tend to have an early advantage, since they have experience putting sophisticated data to use, and possess the technology to do so. As a result, they often have the internal resources to tackle their programmatic challenges.

If you’re in the agency world, that last paragraph might have made your heart skip a beat. But don’t worry, you don’t have to fear losing your piece of the media-buying pie. Many companies don’t have these capabilities, so if agencies can capture the right talent (which is in short-supply) and processes, they could emerge as major players in programmatic.


There are still some hurdles inhibiting the widespread adoption of programmatic. And many of these hurdles, such as viewability and advertising fraud, relate to measurement. These problems are diminishing as view-through attribution and other metrics replace outdated measurements. But sometimes the problem is about more than measurements. Some organizations still lack the infrastructures to leverage all of their data. And this problem is sometimes compounded by resistance to programmatic from the people who traditionally own the media-buying process.


Ultimately, programmatic marketing is about a lot more than a new way to process media transactions; it’s a tool with the potential to change the way marketers do their jobs, giving them the power to leverage information and technology to drive more intelligent and valuable consumer interactions—the very thing that organizations across the marketing and media landscape crave.

As those organizations begin to align their resources and draw up their war plans, programmatic will emerge, more and more, as the attractive option to target audiences across channels and devices. Along the way, it will make TV advertising more effective and dynamically personalize editorial content for each individual consumer.

Excited yet? We sure are.