The Human Side of Programmatic Advertising

BY Laura Bakopolus

It may seem as though everything is moving toward machinery doing the work for us, but don’t fret: Humans are still required in the world of ad tech.

Humans

Strategy
* Media Mix – Contrary to popular belief, ads don’t run completely on their own – someone has to set them up. Someone has to develop the creative. Someone has to develop a segment list or choose whom to target. Someone has to decide how to allocate budget. (You get the point.) Programmatic advertising has evolved to a point where it is not just synonymous with automated ad buying – there is a strategy behind the optimization of the ad campaigns and media buying implementation. In other words, someone has to be behind the puppet, pulling the strings. Otherwise, how will you know the right impressions are being bought? What will differentiate one company from another? How will you define your roles vs. the roles of the company deploying the programmatic ads? The strategy and goals behind each campaign must align, and each person must have a clearly defined role in order for the entire campaign to run as a well-oiled machine. It’s all about the prep work and the clarity of communication, which have to be orchestrated by humans.

Communication
* Reporting – We know that data-driven programmatic advertising lets you segment and target more effectively, but brands and agencies want to see the metrics about their ads specifically and compare them to industry benchmarks and their previous runs. They want to talk about how to optimize resources and campaigns in order to keep improving results. And they want to make sure they are getting as much as they can for each dollar spent. Personal relationships built between the programmatic advertising firm and the agency or brand are crucial to the transparency that will build trust, thus contributing to an open and stable partnership.

Technology Updates
* User Experience – We cannot forget that humans are on the receiving end of these ads. Therefore, there must be a human element in the approach to deploying the ads. When thinking about your value proposition, you have to put yourself in the shoes of the recipient and dive into what resonates with him. Successful ad campaigns are approached in a comprehensive, holistic manner that is ultimately chosen by humans for humans – even if the technology is finding the right audience and doing all the work in between. For example, yes, the technology is placing your ads in front of people that fall into the designated audience segment, but that is only because a capable person on your team told it to do that.
* Technology Updates – Iterations of the technology will be made based on human interpretation and analysis of previous successes and failures. Companies deploying a lean manufacturing process strive to tighten the feedback loop, constantly reviewing client feedback and optimizing the technology to deliver the best results. Regardless of your level in the company or your amassed expertise, you need to continually adapt to the ever-changing technology landscape and make new tweaks and updates that will simultaneously benefit your clients and advance your company’s position in the industry. While technology may be the tool reaching the right audience members for your clients’ ads, humans are the ones programming the technology and taking it where they want it to go.

Team Dynamic
* ABM – Successful account-based marketing (ABM) relies on the synergy among account managers, salesmen, and media buyers. The technology releases and updates must be reported regularly by a product or technology manager. Messaging or branding is updated and communicated by marketing to ensure clarity and consistency among the company as well as externally in the industry. If people aren’t practicing due diligence and doing hard work behind the scenes, the ads don’t get deployed, your results don’t get reported, and no one will know about the value of your brand. The team dynamic at a programmatic advertising firm – or any advertising company, really – is crucial to its success and growth.
* Culture – The internal culture of a programmatic advertising firm can dictate its success for its clients. If employees feel engaged and trusted, they will perform to the best of their ability. If they feel they can work independently while knowing their place in the company and how their efforts relate back to the overall strategy and mission, they will feel empowered to make the right decisions that represent the company’s vision while still feeling their opinion or approach matters. Even if you work in a highly technical environment, the people at your company matter most. Keeping your employees happy and engaged will increase productivity and bring you success in the long-run.

Humans

Don’t worry – humans aren’t being run out of ad tech. People will always be the innovators that build groundbreaking technology, optimize campaigns to yield the highest results, develop brilliant creatives, and work together harmoniously to decide what comes next. You can use technology to make a difference – just remember it is your innovation and creativity that are integral in using it for good.