Editor's note: Precise and personal: How technology is reshaping marketing took place on 8 October 2014. Access this webinar on-demand.
Moderated by Jason Wincuinas, managing editor at Campaign Asia-Pacific, the webinar posed some pressing problems to Tom Standage (digital editor at The Economist), Robbie Hills (head of programmatic media APAC at Google) and Jerry Smith (regional president, Asia Pacific, OgilvyOne Worldwide), who provided answers—or at least raised more questions.
Problem: If you ask 10 people what programmatic buying is, you may get 10 different answers.
Programmatic buying is simply using technology to purchase an ad to be delivered at the right place at the right time. This is increasingly the way forward in media buying, though it is not a new concept, said Hills. "Take search for example, it is really a form of programmatic advertising."
Problem: When exactly is the right time and right place? Is that data-driven or gut-driven?
"With data, you cannot just listen to your gut, or at least not listen to your gut that often," said Standage. Smith felt that intersection happens when brands respond to consumers pulling "real-time dynamic content".
Problem: Do we need so many people at media agencies and tech firms when programmatic buying automates the process?
Standage raised this provocative question. Smith responded in defense of OgilvyOne and other historical intermediaries in the advertising ecosystem. Ad tech will develop further as an enabler of the ecosystem, he said. "And consumers decide what good-quality information to share with their friends." Content production is hard for brands to do themselves, he asserted. "They can get the functional side of it right, but for the emotional side, the intermediaries can play a better part as they are also exposed to other categories."
Problem: Who is leading the direction of the ad tech industry: consumers or tech firms?
Hills said consumers will "always be in charge", with Smith emphasising that the future lies in "listening to the consumers and being there at the right place and at the right time". That said, the ability to know when that point is lies in effective use of data and programmatic buying.
Problem: Tomato or tomato? I call it 'targeting', you call it 'stalking'. According to a quote in The Economist, we can do more technically than what we are permitted to do culturally. Will consumers accept the use of their data or rebel against "surveillance advertising"?
It goes back to respecting the customers, Smith said: "It needs to be far more about pull than push." Targeting does not work if consumers raise their hands not to be targeted but they still get bombarded. "Then we talk to them in the next stage of the journey," he advised. "You don't go for the kill or the sale too early."
Hills also tried to clarify that there is a lot of language used when discussing data that is not helpful. "This is anonymised group of individuals we are targeting," he said. "It is not as scary as what is being reported".
Standage begged to differ. "Even if it's anonymised, it is still stalking people around the internet, I'm afraid," he said. "It still feels scary and spooky to consumers."
He continued: "The danger is the industry is predicated on consumers not rebelling against the surveillance. And the industry doesn't really have a plan B when unscrupulous data brokers engage in shady practices."
Smith jumped in to say that there is a plan B. "If we focus on what consumers want, we have a plan B. If we continue to push, and push aggressively because the metrics demand it, then we are in trouble. It's about the value exchange that is decided by the consumers".
Here are some highlights from Twitter discussion on #campaignasialive: