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The Exchange Lab CEO James Aitken: ‘Heritage perceptions can hold back the entire industry’

Programmatic has created a bridge between traditional and online media. Programmatic enables brands to reach the ‘always on’ customer across multiple devices throughout the same campaign.

It does the heavy lifting for brands and advertisers by streamlining processes and providing simplicity, transparency and insight to deliver them time to focus on the real challenge: their strategy. Media buying is faster, more cost efficient and effective due to real-time automation and optimisation.

There are still clients that need more education on the benefits of programmatic but, as the online market and consumer matures, we are seeing advertisers ask more questions and request programmatic specialist consulting.

Senior marketers are impressed at the capabilities around audience targeting, especially the insights garnered around audiences and data from their campaigns. Brands are embracing programmatic fast, and, to prove this, premium inventory prices have doubled in 2014, in line with the supply and demand curve as marketers migrate their spend online and as rich formats along with digital products evolve to become consumer-centric.

Media mix

Programmatic is going to be a massive priority in 2015 according to our clients. It is the most efficient way to find, engage and relate to customers online, and the best mechanism to drive global scale and run campaigns across multiple markets. It enables marketers to think globally and act locally.

Retail clients have been leaders in the space since direct response or performance campaigns were originally how brands and advertisers were using programmatic. Today, we see a lot more brand campaigns in programmatic and most verticals have now tested or are utilising programmatic in their media mix.

Agencies who have set up trading desks have also been the quickest to adapt but I really just see that more as them understanding programmatic but not as a long term business model due to the conflict of interest. Are you a media vendor or my agency?

Educating clients

What concerns me most about programmatic? Those not being transparent to clients.

I’m also concerned about companies using it incorrectly and not educating clients appropriately. I’m talking about sales reps being greedy, miss-selling and not thinking about the client’s needs or future business. This causes marketers to lose confidence in online advertising.

Heritage perceptions can hold back the entire industry, as can regulation and a shortage of brand-friendly formats.

Biggest trends

We can no longer rely on one, two or three DSPs to do the job. Back in June we were running a campaign across four integrated DSPs. One of them shut off due to its own technical failure and it was down for two weeks. This was one of our top performing and very well-known global partners. Luckily we were able to unplug it from the campaign and instantly replace it with another DSP that had similar tactics and qualities.

Last year, The Economist published an overview of programmatic, stating that, as programmatic and online advertising evolves – and at a speed the industry struggles to keep up with – there is no value in acquiring ad technologies or signing onto contracts for longer than six months. We must have an agile approach.