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Programmatic Premium: Can We Settle On One Definition?

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anthony-katsur-ddt“Data Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Anthony Katsur, CEO of Maxifier.

What’s in a name? Well, when it comes to “programmatic premium,” quite a lot. Interpretations of this term differ widely, as evidenced by the proliferation of remnant technologies that have been rebadged as programmatic premium solutions. In an attempt to differentiate their products, companies keep hatching new names and tags  – including Automated Direct, Premium Direct and Programmatic Guaranteed – which only add to the confusion. All of this overlap and obscurity have created a dangerous situation, mandating an industry-wide definition for programmatic premium that all players can agree upon.

To me, programmatic premium has become the industry equivalent of the classic “young girl vs. old woman” optical illusion, which appears to be a single image but can be perceived quite differently. While some see an old lady, others see a young girl, and it can often be very difficult to switch from one perspective to another.

While some (including me) think of “programmatic premium” simply as technologies that increase the efficiency of buying and selling premium advertising, others think programmatic premium suggests a focus on exchange, trading desk or marketplace executions.

Recently, a friend of mine tried to invite a contact to a programmatic premium event, knowing that the contact’s company would make a valuable contribution. However, the invitee was reluctant to participate or even attend, suggesting he may not be the right person to approach. Eventually, the real issue came to light: While my friend thought the term still meant “premium,” his contact was viewing it mainly as “programmatic.” Same term, different interpretations and one outcome – confusion.

This is just one example of why the industry should worry. Today, everyone claims a portion of the premium pie, resulting in an undifferentiated mass of technologies that label themselves the same. What service are we providing for our customers if everything in the premium market looks identical? In an environment that demands simplicity and transparency, our industry seems to be delivering opaque services and complexity. We need to find a way to clearly communicate how different products fill different gaps along the service chain.

Consensus is the key, and as an industry we need to agree upon standard definitions for the lexicon of different terms. While drawing out the distinctions between different terms, we should discard those that foster confusion, such as the oxymoron “premium remnant.”

Perhaps I’m being simplistic, but when it comes to programmatic premium, should we simply call it what it is – premium? Putting “programmatic” in front of it doesn’t change the fact that it’s still premium. Rather, the term “programmatic” connotes real-time bidding and commoditization, two words that most leading publishers don’t want associated with their inventory. Or perhaps it’s all just “inventory,” and publishers need to ensure they have the appropriate transparent tools to support their needs and make the most of their inventory, regardless of how it’s being monetized.

Whatever terms and definitions we ultimately select, the industry must resolve these issues and adopt clear and understandable language. Otherwise, we risk alienating our customers and losing business as a result.

Follow Anthony Katsur (@sleepwhendead) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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