What are the 5 biggest myths about programmatic advertising?


Thanks to dramatic advances over the past decade, programmatic now accounts for over $59 billion or 85 percent of the digital display advertising market, and that number is only expected to grow.

Unfortunately, not all marketers understand how to utilize programmatic to its full potential, or their knowledge hasn’t kept pace with the industry. It’s resulted in a few misconceptions that have lead to poor user experience, or has stopped them from buying this way altogether. I want to debunk some of those myths to ensure every marketer understands the efficiency and scale they can achieve with the right tools—and every consumer gets the personalized experience they’re looking for.

Myth #1: Lack of transparency

Okay, so this one isn’t a total myth—programmatic is often referred to as a “black box,” thanks to a lack of transparency in business practices that the industry is still struggling to address, years after a groundbreaking report prepared for the Association of National Advertisers. But that’s changing: More ad platforms are realizing the business advantage of giving advertisers insight into every bit of their campaign, or even allowing them to take the reins. And as more money is funneled into programmatic, more advertisers are doing just that.

Bringing programmatic in-house gives marketers better visibility into campaign performance and enhances their understanding of the space, which is essential to tapping into the full potential of first-party data, and research shows that’s a big priority for the majority of brand marketers.

Myth #2: Inability to target accurately

According to a recent report by DigiDay and Verve, 42% of marketers cited the ability to target accurately as one of the reasons they weren’t buying programmatic, which is a shame, since it allows advertisers to integrate data into their media buys like never before.

Some marketers may struggle to understand how powerful programmatic’s targeting capabilities can be because they don’t know how to utilize the increasing amount of data available to them. Another issue is that less than half are using AI to fuel their dynamic creative optimization. The ones that do can continually test, deliver and rework campaigns, without any intervention. This gives them the opportunity to add new or different dimensions to their creative as soon as a new stream of data becomes available, allowing them to deliver near-unlimited variants of personalized creative, changing colors, products, angles, prices and calls-to-action based on individual preferences.

Myth #3: Creative limitations

The static, boring display we often see in market isn’t an accurate reflection of what’s possible, and may be why some marketers have come to believe creativity and scale are mutually exclusive in the digital space.

The brands that have taken advantage of data-powered, rich media formats are building immersive creative that tackles multiple objectives at once. Shoppable ad units, for example, are becoming an increasingly popular solution, because they allow marketers to engage audiences at any stage of the purchase cycle and drive them to conversion with a single ad. But interactive creative like this will only engage users if it’s relevant, which is why more marketers need to integrate AI into their tech stack, so they can automate multiple facets of their dynamic creative optimization and serve the most relevant ad possible to as many users as possible.

Myth #4: Lack of brand safety

Brand safety is still a key concern among the majority of ad industry professionals, and has actually held some brands back from running programmaticaly, or restricted them to programmatic direct. But with big budgets at stake, buy-side ad tech vendors have integrated multiple brand safety measures into their platforms, like maintaining ongoing whitelists that grade the quality of a site based on user experience and depth of content, effectively ruling out inappropriate content.

Measures like these are no longer considered a value add, but an essential piece of a professional programmatic set up. For even more peace of mind, you can search for platforms that provide real-time insights, so you can see exactly which domains your campaign is running on and when.

Myth #5: Low-quality inventory

Programmatic is no longer synonymous with remnant or “low quality” inventory, but some marketers still make the association and may be investing less in digital because of it. You’d be hard-pressed to find a publisher that doesn’t sell their inventory programmatically today, and securing premium placements like homepage takeovers or niche audiences is no longer the arduous, manual process it once was.

With programmatic guaranteed, marketers can sync their DMPs to a publisher’s, so they can target very specific audiences or content through a much more automated process, feeling confident they’re getting the ad placements they want without running out of inventory.