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Programmatic is not all about data

Tuesday 24th October

Is programmatic all about the data? It may sound strange to most, but my personal answer is “no”.

Of course, working in the programmatic industry for almost two years has made perfectly clear the enormous possibilities and benefits that data can bring to our digital campaigns, enabling us to reach the right audience, to reduce wastage and to increase cost/efficiency. But we already know that spiel quite well, don’t we?

It’s because of these known quantities that I won’t waste time by exclusively talking about programmatic campaigns, 1st, 2nd and 3rd party data, delivery figures and performances. Instead, I would like to draw your attention to a broader theme that I believe it will be relevant to many – our ever decreasing attention spans.

The problem was hit upon at this month’s EMEA Youtube Insider event in Dublin. During that event, we all had the privilege to view some of the newest (and still secret) Youtube products that Google will soon release to agencies and clients, strengthening their already very powerful value proposition. But the most important aspect for me was around the growing trend of audience’s decreasing attention spans.

A recent study by Microsoft found out that our average attention spans have decreased from 12 seconds (in 2000) to 8 seconds in 2015 (1 second less than the average goldfish attention span…). If we assume that this research is valid, then the reasons for this drastic reduction in just 15 years would be quite clear: we are constantly engaged by a “multiscreen society”, and we are continuously hit by a multitude of different stimuli that influence us on how we daily consume the advertisements in the digital market.

Though there are also counter-analysis on this specific topic, and granted that we cannot do much to the change current society norms, but just reading those pieces of research, the main question remains: as digital marketers, what can we do to counter this growing issue?

Through programmatic buying it is possible to have a greater emphasis on all the delivery aspects (most notably frequency and reach to avoid overexposures and granting the user a least invasive browsing experience) on the very granular optimisations options, as well as on all the measurement metrics, fundamental to understand the success of a digital campaign. But what we all have to learn is that all the tools and levers that are available programmatically are still not entirely able to meet some of challenges that the digital world is posing.

It can’t be a coincidence that the largest part of the presentations at the YouTube event was focused on the fundamental role played by the creative messages and on the great strategies that must lay behind every campaign in order to hook attentions and reach a successful result, more than how to programmatically and technically deliver a campaign.

So Google got the point: there can’t be a single point of view to such a complicated question around decreasing attention spans, as the media world is increasingly complex itself. There’s instead a growing need for thorough and comprehensive answers that the programmatic buying can’t generate yet in full.

Programmatic is just an automated way of buying that needs to be supported by a unifying strategy in cooperation with all the agency’s departments, as well as by a great creative support to craft that all important message that piques audience’s interests. For example, delivering a programmatic campaign without a winning and all-round strategy and without an engaging and catchy creative message, would risk the programmatic promise to work more cost efficiently reducing budget wastages.

Working in a 360 degree media agency provides the opportunity to get in touch with each department’s great talents, and the chance to work in synergy for the always tougher objectives we are challenged to achieve every day. A part from this fundamental cooperation, it’s time for programmatic to really improve itself and show every day its own value. Adapting this statement to Total Media’s agency values, this means to keep working more and more independently, without being afraid of following our own ideas, without being influenced too much by external partners; it means facing the challenges that the market is posing to us with an adventurous spirit, to avoid not taking tough decisions in which we believe; it means working more transparently and with more integrity to recognize our own mistakes without hiding ourself behind a failure. And finally, it means working as a team, dealing with all our different skills through all the departments, to never stop learning from each other, for both the client’s benefits and our personal lives.

In conclusion, programmatic buying can definitely serve as the indispensable tool to get daily insights and continuous learning to be shared with everyone, but it still needs the fundamental contribution from everyone, because (quoting John Donne, a great classic English poet of the 16th century): “no man is an island”.

Article Written by

Fulvio Milesi

Programmatic Account Manager, Total Media

Fulvio is a Programmatic Account Manager working in the Programmatic team.

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