It’s tough not to picture advertising becoming a trade that lies less in the hands of advertisers and more in algorithms. More and more, ads that are served to consumers are pieces of mathematical architecture catering to age, location and web history.
It may appear that creative minds are no longer responsible for good ideas, that they’re simply the final product of data that’s analysed and reanalysed and run through a maze of programmatic processes.
This unease needs to be addressed, front and centre, for two reasons. First, because programmatic spend is set to burgeon to US$45.94 billion by 2019, and advertisers who don't get on board are going to be stuck in the stone age.
Second, because it’s simply an injustice to label programmatic as the archrival of creativity.
Avenues for change
The programmatic aim isn’t to relinquish control to machines, it’s about upping the ante on what’s creatively possible in digital marketing—inhibiting new ideas, not plugging them into a machine and pressing ‘go’.
For one, the medium allows designers to put together ad series at once, featuring multiple sizes, formats, and styles. Ask any designer how they’d feel about creating 100 iterations of the same creative for different audiences, and you’ll get a notion for what effect this has on time management and workflow.
This has even greater implications for publishers and agencies that, in an industry that’s becoming increasingly cutthroat, are searching for a streamlined way to meet client KPIs.
That being said, ads need to be pliable, and they still need to retain human finesse. As people and culture develop over time, so should content. Adobe’s 2017 Digital Trends APAC report revealed that targeting and personalisation is currently the number one priority for 25 percent of organisations, sitting just below content marketing and social media engagement.
The digital marketing tides are shifting from brands controlling a consumer’s experience, to consumers accepting no less than complete control over media served. So how can advertisers keep pace?
This can be tricky. Ultimately, programmatic is a tool, and a tool is only as good as the person behind it. Simplifying the process of targeted ads to something banal like weather patterns isn’t very inspiring. But if the user wants to step outside the box, programmatic makes this possible.
Although updates might occur weekly, daily or in real-time, the content within and the way it resonates with users depends entirely on the creative disposition of the person scheduling them from the get-go.
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