March 2, 2015
The television industry should learn the lessons of the ‘digital’ advertising industry and make sure that it applies programmatic technology to the execution of campaigns, like which advertisement is served where and to whom, and not to the trading process, meaning the media transactions that determine who gets the right to advertise against inventory and what they pay. This is the view of Caspar Schlickum, CEO at Xaxis EMEA, the programmatic media buying unit for WPP (the world’s largest communications services group offering advertising, branding and consumer insight services). Xaxis operates what it claims is the largest programmatic media and technology platform in the world and its European CEO believes trading should maintain human relationships between the publishers selling inventory and the agencies buying it, something that points away from the open auction process and real-time bidding (RTB).
Schlickum defines ‘programmatic’ as the application of technology to the media management process”, something that encompasses how you handle and use data and inventory, automated ordering, valuations of inventory, the purchase of impressions, and the technologies used to serve ads and dynamically determine what creative is served, among other things. And while programmatic can have a big impact on digital advertising, “there is no magic optimization button and we cannot just rely on technology to do all the trading for us.”
“I have a love-hate relationship with the word ‘programmatic’,” Schlickum adds. “It offers the promise of better targeted media and more efficiency and effectiveness, which is very exciting, but it is also looked upon as the answer to everything, and a reason to move away from an industry that is very much based upon people to a magic button that you can push after which we can all go home.”
He is adamant that advertising will remain a people-based industry and argues that “the role of people in this industry is as important, if not more important, than it was.” But new kinds of people are coming into the industry: Data analysts and data scientists who would otherwise be working at investment banks like Goldman Sachs or CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. “These [programmatic] technologies do not run themselves but require very high skills but different skillsets to what has been employed in our industry,” he observes.