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A candid look at the future of programmatic buying

A candid look at the future of programmatic buying iMedia Editors

As we know it, media planning and buying is undergoing a major transformation. The process of buying digital ads through negotiations and manual RFPs is being replaced by the execution of media buys through digital technology platforms. According to a recent survey conducted by Digiday and OpenX, 70 percent of media buyers and publishers in North America are already doing some programmatic trading. Additionally, 77 percent of those already buying programmatically plan to do more of it moving forward.

At the same time, as more and more direct relationships between marketers are being replaced, concerns about programmatic buying are hindering adoption. As such, it's important to develop a thorough understanding of its effect on the industry before moving forward. During a Spotlight presentation sponsored by Legolas Media at the iMedia Agency Summit in Austin, Texas, some of the web's most respected publishers sat down to discuss the evolution of programmatic and its far-reaching effects on the industry.

Moderated by the SVP of BrightTag, Jonathan Ricard, the panel consisted of Mark Howard, the SVP of digital advertising strategy at Forbes Media; Matthew Spengler, the executive director of  digital sales at Rodale; and Jonathon Shaevitz, the CEO of Legolas Media. As Shaevitz explained, Legolas Media "provides programmatic reserved inventory. We allow our buyers to identify and reserve audiences at scale across our publishers, which include AOL and Yahoo and our partners here, Rodale and Forbes." Its partnership with publishers provides priority access to over 200 million unique consumers.

Here are just a couple of the questions addressed during the discussion:

What is programmatic?

To begin, the panel was asked to define programmatic. According to Spengler and agreed upon by all, programmatic is quite simply "machine buying with a level of human involvement."

How likely are you to replace direct relationships with programmatic buying?

Ricard then questioned the likelihood of media buyers and publishers to replace direct relationships with programmatic buying in the coming year. According to Howard, at Forbes Media, "We know that what you are able to accomplish by buying inventory programmatically is a much better business for both parties." Moving forward, the company is looking to decrease its transactional RFP business.

How long until the third-party cookie is dead, and what will replace it?

One of the last issues addressed was the future of the cookie. According to some estimates, the cookie will be dead in five years. Using this as a jumping-off point, Ricard asked the panel, "Who is going to win if cookies go away, and what will replace them?" According to Shaevitz, "If the cookie goes away, I think it is the very large publishers collecting data that will win." However, rather than completely go away, the panelists agreed that the cookie will evolve and be expressed in a different way. As Shaevitz explained, "Some other solution will emerge that will give us more and more higher-quality data. We will just be calling it something else."

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