Debunking five myths of programmatic buying

By Chief Digital Officer Ben Foster

While programmatic buying is far from perfect, with challenges around ad fraud, complicated supply chains, and sometimes a lack of transparency, it’s essential to approach the opportunities with fresh eyes and an open mind. In this article, I present counterarguments to five common preconceptions frequently cited in industry discussions surrounding programmatic buying across above-the-line (ATL) channels. 

1. “Programmatic buying only accesses remanent inventory” 

Programmatic buying cannot only access inventory like print and paste OOH, non-digital radio and linear TV but in digital environments, the quality of inventory available programmatically versus direct buying with media owners is the same. Whether buying as a private marketplace deal or programmatic guarantees, the same inventory can be accessed.  There are debates around the quality of inventory types based on attention levels or dwell times. For example, BVOD is lean-in TV viewing versus linear or print-and-paste OOH versus a digital screen on a 6-placement rotation; however, in both cases, the right choice depends on price, audience reach and campaign objectives.  

2. “Programmatic buying is always more expensive” 

Do programmatic CPMs often exceed traditionally bought CPTs? Yes. However, when considering the cost per impression relative to the targeted audience, the apparent premium for enhanced programmatic targeting is frequently balanced by diminished waste. However, this isn’t always the case. The outcome varies based on the scale and nuances of the target audience, but dismissing programmatic solely based on a higher price point would be premature. 

3. “Programmatic creative can just be cut and paste” 

Programmatic buying often provides opportunity for unique and impactful creative executions. For example, too often, standard OOH assets are used for DOOH and even pDOOH, which don’t exploit the eye-catching nature of motion, let alone the opportunities within dynamic content. Whether an ad is triggered by weather or shows the latest pollen count, it is still celebrated as a creative novelty when in fact, it should be the norm. Think about digital audio or addressable TV when they mention your city or the nearest store; ad recall is much higher due to the added relevance. 

4. “Programmatic reach is less than traditional buying” 

People often tend to assume that programmatically accessible inventory is restricted due to its status as an emerging technology. However, the truth is quite the opposite. CTV encompasses platforms such as YouTube, BVOD, SVOD and AVOD, collectively surpassing linear TV in reach, particularly among younger demographics. Digital audio follows a similar pattern. While individual digital stations and podcasts may not boast significant scale, bundling those pertinent to your target audience forms a compelling reach package

5. “Programmatic formats are less impactful” 

Consider DOOH, which operates on a rotation basis rather than constant display, akin to print-and-paste. If it rotates between five ads, does that equate to a 20% reach? The answer isn’t as straightforward. When sites with extended dwell times, like bus stops, are strategically chosen, consumers are likely to encounter multiple rotations on average, enhancing engagement and visual impact. The truth is, achieving optimal results often involves a strategic combination of traditional buying methods and programmatic digital formats to maximize reach and efficacy. 

To find out how The Kite Factory can help you to leverage the unique capabilities of programmatic buying to reach and engage your audiences in more effective ways, please get in touch