Is Programmatic killing creativity in the advertising industry?

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Customers today prefer a more personalised online ad experience. Ryan Roche looks at how this is achieved using a blend of technology, data and creative input.

With only 2 more weeks until I finish Macleay, I’ve learnt so much information in such a short period of time. However, if I were to condense all this knowledge into one main point, it would be that ‘different is good’. You don’t win Effie’s or get your name considered to be apart of the Cannes Lions festival of creativity in France if your work isn’t better then not just anyone else in your agency, but rather all the other agencies around the globe. According to CBS News, the average person is exposed to roughly 5000 advertisements each day.

With so many brands paying for your attention, most of them will find some difficulty in getting any actual results such as brand awareness or sales if they all start looking the same. However, taking a broad approach, the question I ask. “Is programmatic the vehicle that drives the majority of these 5000 advertisements out of our minds as soon as we see them, having no affect at all?” Or in actual fact, is Programmatic the new formula that advertisers have needed to better connect with their audience?

According to the Internet advertising bureau, 47 percent of display ads were traded in programmatically in 2014, nearly doubling from 28 percent the previous year. Furthermore, in 2014, Magna Global forecasted digital ad revenues to reach 30% market share globally by the end of 2015, validating that advertisers need to shift their focus more on digital. With such huge growth, it seems as though more of each agencies money, time & energy is being spent on buying into programmatic compared to focusing on the big idea. In other words, with numerous deadlines for the agency to meet, it seems as though the most efficient way to get business done would be done through using less of the creative & shifting their focus on buying media space in the form of a cheap banner ads in front of the right people just to get their message out there. In doing so, this causes for a much less effective, innovative & resonates far less with each consumer, even if they are all reached individually.

I would like to further continue on this path when talking about how big programmatic really is & how much it has taken over the advertising industry in such a short time. The scariest statistic I found was that Yahoo processes around 150 billion user data events every day globally, which is an incredible amount of knowledge that us as advertisers have about consumers. However, I feel like there is so much information for advertisers to use to best target their specific target audience that they can fall into the trap of just assuming that their work will be effective. They fall into the trap of thinking that they are reaching their target audience anyway, so it’s easy to just think of an idea & put it through the programmatic pipes & let that do the work for them. I think now would be a good time to confirm that after reading numerous articles, I believe programmatic is the best resource that has happened to the advertising industry in the past ten years, however, my issue lies with the work ethic of the creative.

The best thing about all this programmatic data is that it allows us to distribute content to the right consumer at the right time. It’s all up to the creative ideas that will ultimately drive optimum performance, creative minimal wastage of money & determine if this ad is the once that people actually remember from the other 5000. I found a great quote that backs up exactly what I would like to convey about my views on programmatic.

“The goal of programmatic advertising is not to take humans out of the equation, but to make the process itself more efficient & ensure that individuals can focus on higher value work. It doesn’t mean humans are gone, it just means that their role in the process is changing. Humans may not be buying or placing the ads directly, but they are still the cornerstone of the process.”

To further expand on this, no jobs are being lost. The advertising industry is forever shifting & it is our job as advertisers to adapt, to change with technology & trends to continue to better our own work. Rather than it being a case of man vs. machine, it is actually man + machine, with increasing opportunities opening recently for creative in buying & selling programmatic to make sure the quality of work is continually improving.

A great example to further expand on the importance of programmatic is the forever growing age of digital media. Whether we like it or not, phone usage has increased significantly, & so has the way that we interact with our phones. Currently, there is close to one million apps that are available through IOS & Google play. Furthermore, on average, people use 20 different apps on their mobile, spending roughly 86% of their time in one of these 20 applications compared to 14% of people that are on the web. So we know that most users are on their applications, they are highly engaged, they may be focusing heavily on getting a new high score, maybe scrolling through their social media such as Instagram or Facebook, or maybe they are just watching a ted talk video on the way to work. This is a perfect opportunity for us as advertisers; we can subtly place our message in front of each consumer’s eyes while they are highly engaged.

Well without programmatic, good luck choosing which apps that your target market will be engaged in. For example, If I wanted to sell my brand’s new product, I would have to choose one app out of one million that is not only popular, but also is where the target market will be engaged. Programmatic is the way that this can be done. More facts about phone usage, more information about each app, more knowledge about where our target market are & inevitably, from all this, we have ourselves increased creativity all achieved through programmatic.

To sum up my beliefs into my own words, customers today would prefer a much more personalized ad experience. So in order for this to happen, you get the most from digital advertising through showing that you view each customer as a person, not just data, and to do that most effectively, it all comes back to the creative. All that programmatic is doing is repositioning the online advertising industry to make it more efficient & effective. At the end of the day, automation is just machines doing what the creative programmers tell them to do, and programmatic is laying the ground for a new wave of creative thinking.

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