Programmatic has been criticized for killing the creative strategy aspect of advertising, which is more than likely why you got into the ad agency business anyway, right? But that conclusion is too simplistic.
At one point or another, everyone in the advertising industry has probably wished their days were a bit more like Don Draper's—lounging in sofas for inspiration or writing brilliant ideas on cocktail napkins. But what was rarely emphasized in "Mad Men" was the books of research that Don went through before delivering "the big pitch." The genius conclusion to market men's deodorant to women because they shop for men, for example, was based on none other than market research.
Yes, good old market research fueled by surveys and focus groups that has now evolved into real-time insight with the help of the digital era. Or, as Mark O'Brien of DDB Worldwide said at Advertising Week, helping agencies "get the right message to the right people in the right place at the right time."
What programmatic presents is the opportunity to effectively combine the siloed roles of Mad Men and Math Men. It enables media teams to use the overabundance of data available for more creative and strategic campaign-building, while creative teams can leverage programmatic insights to enhance the creative process.
Art and science
Across the industry, creative and buy teams have most often been in distinctly separate departments—and in Don Draper's day, there was little reason to bring them together. But in the era of real-time marketing, some agency leaders are beginning to see the advantages in aligning creative and media teams. And with brands feeling the pressure to instantaneously react to meme-worthy events, embracing programmatic insights to deliver campaigns that are both high-performance and cleverly designed seems like a given.
In fact, Anush Prabhu, chief channel planning and investment officer at Deutsch NY, agrees. He spoke at Mediaocean's Connect Series Programmatic Uncut on Oct. 30 about the importance of joining the creative and media buying teams to leverage the data now available with programmatic. Mr. Prabhu confirmed that at Deutsch, it's standard practice to have creatives in the room throughout the planning, buying and negotiation process to discern "what the idea can bring to the table and what the media platform and data can bring to the creative idea itself. To me, that is where the innovation needs to happen."
In general, creative teams have been quick to capitalize on new media channels and creative formats but slow to take advantage of the level of creative personalization that data can provide. Despite this industry trend, Mr. Prabhu said that Deutsch's teams have successfully incorporated programmatic's highly targeted audience delivery capabilities into their creative production, crafting more specific messaging for specific moments in time.
He acknowledged Deutsch is perhaps nimbler than some of its counterparts and, for this reason, has been able to implement a successful system to combine data and creative but foresees the industry increasingly shifting to a merged media-creative team model.
If this model is an example, bringing the creative and media teams together in the early stages and throughout a campaign's life cycle can result in more personalized and relevant experiences for consumers. And by combining actionable audience and device data with well-done creative, agencies might have a new formula to deliver top performing and rich experiences for brands.
Reinforced by the separation of siloed teams, a campaign's creative aspects are most often attributed to … well, the creative. But programmatic is also playing a part in campaign strategy as part of a campaign's "creativity factor" outside the actual creative assets.
As programmatic moves higher up in the premium inventory chain, the data and breadth of insights are increasing where agencies still place the bulk of their digital spend: guaranteed. Automated guaranteed buys provide a greater detail of performance tracking for placements and individual creative to a degree never before achievable with historical RFP-based buys. Armed with the details, focus can be shifted to providing innovative new ways to get that message to the right person at the right time, such as when to scale, reallocate across media types or stop repurchasing what may have worked in the past but no longer is.
This type of strategic thinking is just as fresh and creative as the team that defines the campaign's art or tagline. As Sir Martin Sorrell put it "everybody inside [the agency] can be creative in different ways. … Just because [data and technology are] not a 30-second TV ad, that doesn't mean that's not highly creative."
"Programmatic" was inarguably the buzzword of the year, and if the 20-plus panels on programmatic during Advertising Week are any indication, the buzzword of 2015 is likely to be in the same space. Technology has created opportunities beyond anything Don Draper could have fathomed, but what's evident is that programmatic has begun to blur the lines between Mad Men and Math Men.
About the Sponsor
Maria Pousa is senior VP-global marketing at Mediaocean in New York. She is a global marketing professional with more than 15 years' experience in integrated marketing: marketing communications, product marketing, market research and branding. Maria has held key roles at media/technology companies, including interclick, Genome from Yahoo, Innovid, AOL Advertising and TACODA. She is licentiate in political science and public opinion from Universidad de Buenos Aires and holds an M.A. in media studies from New School University. You can follow Maria at @meriinyc.
Mediaocean is the leading software platform provider for the marketing world. Its open traditional and digital media platforms empower businesses and professionals across the global marketing ecosystem with intelligent automation, efficiency and flexibility in their work flow, from planning and buying, to analyzing and optimizing, to invoicing and payments. With more than 80,000 advertising professionals conducting 7 million transactions daily across all media channels and managing $100 billion annually through its platforms, Mediaocean drives the marketing universe forward. Mediaocean is headquartered in New York with six offices worldwide. Learn more at www.Mediaocean.com, or connect with Mediaocean on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter.