Next fall, digital media watchers around the globe will celebrate the 20th birthday of an innovation that, it has sometimes been said, ushered in a new era of marketing possibility.
The world’s first online banner advertisement—hosted by HotWired.com in October 1994 on behalf of AT&T—brought with it vast potential: access to “connected” consumers, new interactive creative units and, above all else, the promise of accountability, letting marketers and publishers engineer a careful balance of ad inventory and contextual relevance with an eye on unlocking vast new repositories of value.
Two decades of progressive investment (now materialized in the $42 billion that U.S. marketers invest in digital advertising annually) have unquestionably done much to elevate the impact and credibility of that underlying promise. But for many, the full potential of 1994’s biggest advertising innovation has remained elusive—held at bay by a combination of inadequate toolsets, disjointed operating processes and “best practices” geared to the deployment of legacy media and customer interaction models.
Today, though, transformative advances in all those respects—and a growing realization that the next “new era of marketing possibility” may be just around the corner—have positioned the digital media ecosystem at the verge of an effective tipping point. At its apex: widespread adoption of the programmatic approach, through which media buyers and sellers align organizational processes with automation technology in support of ongoing, channelagnostic customer engagement (and allowing for the continuous optimization of that effort as business strategies evolve).
Often associated with the practice of auction-based media buying (and referenced interchangeably with these “real-time bidding” tools and tactics), the real practice of “programmatic” is far more complex—and potentially far more transformative—than its most well known use case would suggest. In fact, what began in the domain of ad operations (as a means to facilitate the cumbersome execution of digital media transactions across “non-premium” inventory) is evolving substantially to address a wider range of applications, presenting advertisers and publishers alike with a new foundation for driving both process efficiency and customer marketing effectiveness across a combination of paid, earned and owned media.
This white paper, published in partnership with the Interactive Advertising Bureau, will explore these dynamics and present a snapshot of how industry constituents are practicing “programmatic” today. With conclusions derived through a combination of survey and interview data (encompassing feedback from more than 260 executive-level marketers, technologists and media industry leaders) it will also outline the issues that are evolving to define the “programmatic everywhere” opportunity—across media channels, vertical industries and functional disciplines.