Being Against Programmatic

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For the record: don’t be against programmatic.

Programmatic is scary business for the marketing industry, but it’s here and it deserves to be here. Human beings used to be great at helping brands strategize and plan where to spend their media dollars. These media companies could also negotiate much better terms than an individual brand, if they had any form of size and scale. Billions of dollars filtered from brand through to media agencies and then into the channels of consumption. The model worked (and, to a certain degree, still works). Thinking about programmatic (or using technology to buy media) makes sense. With thousands of places you can now put an ad (and in a myriad of formats), it’s harder and harder for human beings to build that perfecting marketing mix. Plus, impressions being what they are, it’s great that technology can facilitate a process whereby brands can automate the process of finding more relevant sites, and getting those impressions to stretch to a wider set of media outlets (and, probably, for a much more reasonable cost).

This works… until we move too far upstream. 

I went on a bit of a tirade this past week. Bob Knorpp runs an excellent panel-driven podcast called, The BeanCast. I’ve been on the show before, but this episode was titled, Mitch Drops The Mic (also featuring Joseph Jaffe from Evolution and Augie Ray from Experience the Blog), which makes me laugh (and it’s kind of embarrassing, because I’m socially awkward that way). This “dropping of the mic,” as it’s called happened around the topic of programmatic and data. Technology is great. I love technology. I’ve built a very fun and interesting career that straddles somewhere in the middle of technology, innovation and marketing. I think that programmatic is great, and serves many brands. I also think that programmatic doesn’t solve the media challenge. It works amazing to reach new targets that aren’t on media planners radars, or ones that may have some kind of remnant space deal flowing through it. As media moves upstream and brands are trying to do more with their message than just ram it down the consumer’s throat, we may need to throttle back on the programmatic and let the human beings do what they do best, namely: build real and tangible relationships where the four parties in the media landscape (the brand, the agency, the media outlet and the consumer) all get a mutually beneficial piece of the proverbial pie.

It’s not just programmatic.

It’s much more about technology, in general. So, the heat is on as we discuss machine learning, data accumulation/consumption and what consumers really want from brands and agencies (which may not be all that much).

It’s an hour, so take a listen to the BeanCast – Episode #373 – Mitch Drops The Mic…