The expanding programmatic playground

Programmatic advertising is often reduced simply to the automated purchasing of banner ads and pre-roll videos across the internet. This is largely because this is where the technology started when it first hit the market. However, the space is quickly evolving and we’re steadily seeing the emergence of a range of new programmatic options that would pique the interest of even the savviest digital operator.

As the dual forces of increased digitisation and rapidly advancing ad tech come together, it’s no longer a case of only buying banner ads with a simple click.

Video games, outdoor ads, images and email now offer at least some level of automation—and we’re only just getting started.

Acquire Online’s Zane Furtado says the programmatic space is evolving so quickly that specialists need to be constantly vigilant to stay on top of the changes happening.

“You can’t think in years in this space. Anything can happen within the next month,” he says.

Here’s a rundown of all the new toys emerging in programmatic, as well as Furtado’s opinion on which ones offer the most commercially viable opportunities for local marketers. 

Email programmatic:

Wherever ads are sold direct in the digital environment, there’s scope for automation.

Until now, many publishers manually pull together emails, which are then sent to customers or readers.

However, we are now seeing the emergence of technology that could potentially allow for the delivery of unique emails to every person on a mailing list.

Rumyana Miteva, the head of performance marketing at Housetrip recently explained the potential of this in a Marketing Week article.

“[We can] send relevant email content based on the properties they were looking at – it is really optimised,” she said.

“Using programmatic buying means we are using the same data for our display advertising as email and that makes the content more relevant. It also helps with consistent messaging and branding so the user gets a rounded experience that isn’t fragmented.”

The advantages of this aren’t only limited to delivering more targeted advertising, but also present interesting editorial opportunities for publishers. Imagine sending out a daily news email that differs from person to person, depending on their main areas of interest.

What makes this opportunity particularly appealing is the fact that email remains the principal means of business communication. Email is the first thing workers check in the morning when they wake up and it stays with them from meeting to meeting, dictating the ebb and flow of the modern workday. 

In-image programmatic:

The internet is a visually driven medium, which makes it somewhat surprising that a large proportion of contextual advertising still relies on the written words. Ads are generally placed in accordance with what the words say rather than with what the images suggest.

One organisation that’s looking to change this is GumGum. Founded in 2008 by Ophir Tanz, the company has invested heavily in artificial intelligence technology that allows for the placement of ads alongside contextually relevant imagery.

The tech behind GumGum scans billions of images across the net to determine when the right time, right creative and right placement are to deliver ads on top of those images.

Through this, an image of a woman running can, for instance, be accompanied by the latest pair of Adidas Kicks. And this is only the start, with GumGum also extending its tech into the sports broadcasting.

“We have already developed a new application of the solution by using the technology to capture the true value of sports sponsorships across broadcast, streaming and social and by calculating how much they are actually worth in real-time,” a GumGum spokesperson says. “We see this type of technology making further headways in other industries too as AI is applied more and more to business operations and in marketing.”

On the publisher side, this tech presents the opportunity for monetising another section of their offering, while advertisers get to tap into the visual aspect of the digital experience (Acquire Online is already taking advantage of this in the local market). 

As with all programmatic advertising, there is a risk of brand safety in terms of ads appearing on questionable images or sites.

However, in several interviews, Tanz has assured advertisers that the company only works with a verified whitelist of advertisers that meet specific guidelines.

The wait is now on to see which local publishers dip into the opportunity offered by this evolving form of advertising. 

Outdoor programmatic:

In May this year, Val Morgan Outdoor launched the first outdoor programmatic ad in New Zealand.

This ad was sold on a CPM basis and ran until a certain number of eyeballs in a specific demographic target group passed the site.

This is achieved through the company’s DART system, which detects up to 18 demographic profiles as they walk past the ad in a mall.

This approach is obviously limited to malls and outdoor spaces with high foot traffic, but other outdoor companies are starting to invest in technology that can accurately tally the number of cars that pass a certain site. The tech can also identify car brands, making it plausible to target specific car owners with ads.

The outdoor industry is the most buoyant of all the channels, according to the latest SMI ad spend figures, giving the industry some extra cash to spend on innovation. The question is what will that cash buy in the coming years? 

TV-sync programmatic:

We’ve moved past the days when the ad
break doubled as the toilet or tea break. Instead, modern viewers remain glued to their sofa seats as they pick up their phones to peruse what’s happening on social media or in the news.

A study from Nielsen Research found that more than 85 percent of online New Zealanders watch TV while using a separate device to access the internet at the same time – more than one in three do so on a daily basis.

So prolific is this tendency that a follow-up TVNZ study recently showed that as much as 17 percent of viewer attention is occupied by device distractions during an average half-hour show.

Some might see this as a problem, but the team at Impulse Screen Media sees it as a major commercial opportunity (Acquire Online has similarly seen opportunity in this space, tapping into the tech since 2015).

“Consumers are gaining a sense of ‘discovered time’ as multiple screens allow users to act spontaneously and the immediate feedback gives a sense of accomplishment and efficiency not traditionally delivered by television,” says Impulse Screen Media managing director Paul Garrity. 

“What we expect is that advertisers will need to look to implement integrated cross-channel ad campaigns that leverage this trend towards convergence of mobile screens and television.”

Impulse Screen Media programmatic marketer Sabarish Chirakkal says the company offers a range of multi-screen advertising options that link television with digital media.

“We enable brands and agencies to amplify reach and engagement by serving digital
ads in synergy with live TV events like TV commercials, keyword mentions or specific programmes,” Chirakkal says.

The technology behind Impulse Screen Media monitors broadcast video in real-time and then connects this information with the major programmatic networks.

“This allows brands and agencies to buy TV synced digital ads across display, video, social and mobile inventory,” says Chirakkal.

It’s also worth noting that when viewers look down at their phones, they’re still in the room— meaning they’re listening to what’s playing on the television. And this presents an opportunity to sync a good soundtrack with clever creative on a mobile phone. 

Video game programmatic

A Digital New Zealand report released in August found that 98 percent of New Zealand homes with children have video games and eight out of ten own multiple gaming devices. The study also showed that across all these devices and across all family members, video games are played an average of 85 minutes per days.

Those 85 minutes of undivided attention present a unique opportunity for advertisers to target consumers.

Earlier this month, we saw Wendy’s advertise its Baconator range on billboards contained within a video game. This is only the start of what will be an interesting journey into this space.

As things stand at the moment, advertisers generally sign deals in advance to have an ad integrated into a video game. So far, it’s proved lucrative for game providers, who benefit from an additional source of revenue but it can be limiting for advertisers. Once an ad is programmed into a game, it can’t be updated. This disconnects the ad from the real world and means the billboards or signage on display throughout a game might not reflect what’s happening in the real world.

Programmatic can, of course, solve that by building ad slots into games and allowing advertisers to place more relevant creative whenever the need arises.

It’s also worth remembering that whenever a game is played online, the player is always logged in—which again offers great targeting potential. The only question is whether game developers will be willing to move beyond those pre-signed deals and open the programmatic gates. 

  • For more information on new opportunities in programmatic, contact Acquire Online’s digital wizard: Zane Furtado, [email protected] ​

This story is part of a content partnership with Acquire Online.

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