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Keeping The People in Programmatic


Keeping the People in Programmatic

By: Kelli O’Donnell, Marketing Associate




As a Marketing Associate at CPXi, I’ve been exposed to many conversations about programmatic. While I’m no expert on the back-end automation of programmatic or the challenges to programmatic publishing, I’m slowly learning about the automated advertising landscape. So join me while I discuss an on-going industry conversation (from a new-comer’s perspective) …


Programmatic is a hot topic in 2015 – and understandably so. Automated ads accounted for nearly 50% of the US digital display market in 2014, amounting to roughly $10 billion in programmatic ad spend. But as programmatic matures, people fear humans will be non-existent in the ad-buying process. And they may be – if ad tech companies don’t take proper precautions.


Mediatel recently reported on this fear of programmatic. In an article from July 15, Jonathan Di Sapia wrote that half of UK publishers think programmatic is an opportunity, while the other half see it as a threat. The ‘Man versus Machine’ debate once again comes to the forefront. Is there an inevitable battle between programmatic and people, like so many have suggested? Will man be replaced with machine as programmatic evolves?


No. And here’s why.


Paradoxically, as ad serving becomes more automated, customers desire more personal contact. This means: People are here to stay. So fear not. But this also means traditional service systems need to evolve with technology.


As programmatic technologies mature, companies must rethink the role of their front-facing employees. Dynamic service providers will be critical as programmatic advances. They will usher in an age of “Man and Machine”, believes Di Sapia. Companies should offer an entire demand services team, ready to thoroughly support its publishers and foster deep relationships with partners on the buy-side. While SSPs do the back-end computing, humans must be able to aid the process, says Di Sapia.


The answer is not to scale back programmatic –  it’s evolving and it should stay that way. When it comes to the solution of, ‘Man AND Machine’, the future will be bringing on men who can actually facilitate that and hiring experts who can make people more comfortable with the machine’s capabilities.  Ad tech companies need to speculate what programmatic will look like in the next few years and then bring in experts to help build out that future.


Regardless of what the programmatic landscape looks like in 20 years, it’s certain people will be a part of it. People will always have a place in programmatic – as long as ad tech companies create a human strategy that evolves with technology.