Why programmatic and China share the same dilemma

Programmatic and China have both seen substantial growth in recent years, yet they both find themselves at a challenging crossroads.If you keep up with media and marketing industry news and opinion, you’ll know that you can’t get through a week without seemingly every third article you read built around programmatic and falling into one of two broad camps.

Much like news reports on China’s economy, programmatic is either lauded for its inexorable rise, or we’re told it is beset by mounting concerns over safety and transparency, acting as a sharp brake on its development.

Programmatic’s crossroads for publishers and brands

Here lies the stark dichotomy that puts programmatic at a major crossroads today. The benefits of automated placement that match brand with audience delight brands, publishers and agencies alike.

And yet brands fret – and with good reason – because this efficiency has come at a price, with strategy moving from being built around placement to being built just around the audience.

Many publishers are just as anxious, particularly when it comes to their premium inventory which has hitherto largely been sold outside of programmatic yet will not necessarily do so forever. Forgive the crudely drawn example, but as much as Burberry wouldn’t want their ad to appear on a site offering cheap payday loans - whatever an algorithm might tell them about the efficiency of doing so - Tatler wouldn’t want an ad to appear on their site for a cheap jeans warehouse clearance sale.

Brands need re-assurance over placement and publishers need to provide this

So what’s the answer? In short, brands need re-assurance that their ads will appear reliably in an environment supportive of their positioning strategy. For the publisher then this means proving that their inventory is a good quality match. To do this, they need to profile in detail who their audiences are and how well they tally with the profile of the brand’s target. A good fit between the two in terms of attitudes, values, product use and how leisure time is spent gives huge reassurance to the brand.

First-party data helps give confidence – but only up to a point

Publisher first-party data will help with this up to a point, but suffers from the limitations of being bespoke to the publisher rather than a common, neutral tool accessible by both media seller and media buyer. Nor does first party data generally have a broad and in-depth mix of online and offline consumer insights that give the publisher the creative freedom to search for and find the key arguments that prove engagement of premium audiences.

So, yes, programmatic is at a crossroads and the industry does need to make urgent adjustments to cope with its continued growth in a way that benefits both publisher and brand. But the solutions that enable this already exist in the form of in-depth consumer insight tools. In recognition of the changing programmatic landscape these tools are continuing to evolve to make it even easier for publishers to draw out the key insights they need and enhance the selling capabilities of publisher commercial and sales teams.

Find more information on our programmatic offering here.