The Real Promise Of Programmatic: Always On, Multichannel Marketing

russell“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 Russell Glass, CEO at Bizo.

Real-time bidding (RTB) emerged in the last few years as a new approach to buying and selling online display advertising in real time. The promise of RTB was, and still is, to create tremendous efficiency and automation through a stock exchange model.

However, efficiency in buying and selling ads is only a small part of the value created by RTB. The real promise and value has recently begun to emerge and promises to completely change how marketers communicate with their prospects and clients: always-on, multichannel marketing.

It’s a world of tremendous efficiency. That’s a dream for all advertisers, yet what has happened is anything but. Sure, networks have a more streamlined approach to buying media, but a truly programmatic approach to marketing hasn’t filtered down to the advertiser yet. They are buying media the same way they were five years ago – think Excel spreadsheets and multiple media plans circulating amongst huge teams.

So how will this change in the next five years?

Fulfilling The Promise Of Programmatic In House

To gain efficiency and have fewer people manage media plans, technology can and should do the heavy lifting. Imagine a single control center or operating system that can manage all of your spending – media, social, display, email and mobile – centered on the RTB concept. This model will essentially enable marketers to have an always-on, multichannel marketing approach to all of their programs. Companies will be able to reach their customers whenever and wherever they may be on the Web in highly relevant ways.

In order for this vision to become a reality, marketers will have to bring all of their marketing stack technologies in house and tie all their systems together so they are speaking the same language. This means that data on customers and prospects must be shared seamlessly across marketing automation systems, CRM systems, content-management systems, data-management platforms and analytics tools.

By synching every software element of the marketing stack, marketers will be able to understand and accurately attribute the effects of, let’s say, their display advertisements on purchase intent, brand lift, conversion and other key performance indicators. Marketers will also get a clear picture of what is and is not working so they can determine which audience segments perform best with which ad medium and creative. Marketers can also uncover optimal frequency to ensure media spending is not wasted. Attribution will become a matter of course for modern marketers and, by virtue of that, it will create massive efficiency.

The Intelligence Layer

Today we see marketers leveraging the intelligence layer of marketing automation systems, such as Oracle Eloqua, to communicate with potential B2B buyers and consumers in a personalized, one-to-one fashion. If a prospect visits a website, or is being nurtured via email, companies using Eloqua can now retarget them with a relevant display or social ad wherever they go across the Web. This is actual real-time marketing at work, and it’s incredibly powerful both because of the internal efficiencies it creates as well as the leads it can generate.

Now imagine if a marketer can take that same intelligence and distribute it beyond marketing automation to CRM systems and analytics tools, where it becomes exceptionally valuable. Through a universal identification system, such as Eloqua’s UID or the the Ad ID that Google is pursuing, companies will be able to deliver hypertargeted ads across all channels – even to mobile devices. The marketing automation system combined with the intelligence of a data-management and targeting system will be the key ingredient to distributing this data because it will be the hook into all the places a company needs to target media.

Go Programmatic Or Go Home

When marketers end up owning this technology in house, they will be able to develop automated, always-on programs for almost every marketing channel. When this becomes a reality – and it will be sooner than you might think – anything that is nonprogrammatic or does not have a programmatic “hook” will go away, be it a publisher, trading desk or ad network. And with agencies losing media dollars, we will likely see many become purely strategic or creative partners. Some agencies will also likely move downstream to provide services to the midmarket and below, and will run these marketing technology stacks on behalf of advertisers in an outsourced capacity.

If this is all foreign to you, it is time to start getting prepared. Always-on, multichannel marketing will change how we think about marketing and how the entire ecosystem works. And deploying it effectively will separate the winning marketing organizations from the losers for years into the future.

Follow Bizo (@bizo), Russell Glass (@glassruss) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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  1. Jason Lynn

    You might call this a parallel evolution of the ERP – where consumer and social touch points are brought into the data and analysis infrastructure of companies. Really interesting thought Russ.

  2. When the advertiser makes the move from purchasing impressions to purchasing segments, in my view your vision must occur. If one doesn’t integrate at the advertiser level, building connections across a LUMAscape world is incredibly complicated.

    There will be two kinds of winners. The winning marketing companies that move to cross-channel audience targeting and messaging, and the ad tech companies that make it possible. I know more than a few advertisers in that world that are just waiting for ad tech to catch up with them.

  3. Jonathan Ricard

    @Mark: I think Ad Tech’s approach and focus on extracting first party data has led us to a place where it is often just another silo or a +1 shortcut. Marketers need tools to connect and synchronize the valuable first party data they own, in real time to benefit from the shift.

    Shifting to an Always On, MultiChannel approach for marketers isn’t going to be easy, both due to the inefficiencies in current technology and the established processes where budget is allocated. Most companies we work with don’t have an omnichannel budget stakeholder, _yet_. I agree that programmatic buying does offer a significant chance to shift to a real time, segment based approach driven through cross channel, first party, engagement data. Programmatic is the most likely place for this future state to take root.