Many marketers confuse programmatic with real-time bidding, but the two terms are not synonymous. The concept of "real-time bidding" has been in existence for a few years and is simply the methodology behind buying and selling advertising impressions in an open marketplace, much like an auction model. This is where brands are able to buy and sell online display advertising in real-time, one ad at a time and serve them to the public. However, as with most software, your desired outcome is wholly reliant on the information you put in and the way in which you use the data you have. How often have you been served an ad for a train or plane after you have made the journey? Real-time bidding is an important trading component of the marketplace, but it is the marketplace as a whole that is becoming programmatic. Programmatic is more efficient, as it enables brands to aggregate, book, analyze and optimize all forms of digital content and media so they can serve targeted offers, messages and ads across all channels. The ultimate benefit here is that marketers can identify customers in real-time, in the right place and on the right device to help retain or win new business.
At its most basic level, programmatic allows marketers to connect the dots between their content, their audiences and their media buying; ensuring they are genuinely reaching their target audience based on their digital profile/history (likes, preferences, behaviors, etc.) right here, right now. This is a hugely powerful asset for brands.
Programmatic also gives marketers the ability to address the challenges faced with the mobile channel. Since its infancy, mobile advertising has struggled on two levels. First, it has struggled as Web advertising did in the early stages with questionable measurement; whereby, success was measured by the number of app downloads brands are able to achieve (akin to how many likes or followers you received, which are essentially numbers with no real meaning or value added). Second, even though mobile is becoming the primary channel through which people communicate today, marketers have struggled to connect with consumers as they move between devices (smartphone, tablet and desktop). The programmatic marketplace addresses both as it brings data and a cross-platform approach, thereby enabling brands to target and connect with their next customers using individualized custom-tailored marketing messages. A big drive for this new paradigm will be the ability to combine the analytics of each consumer action and deliver a personalized experience to users, with intelligent software and an increasing use of cookie-less targeting technology. It's the shot in the arm that will ensure mobile continues its aggressive growth.