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6 big challenges in the industry’s hottest growth area

6 big challenges in the industry’s hottest growth area Ashley Bast
This video interview and article is sponsored by AcuityAds. Learn more about sponsor opportunities.

Quicker data refresh rates

Programmatic is all about speed and efficiency. Impressions are being bought and served rapidly, which is why it is so critical to have data that refreshes very quickly. Ideally, you want data to be refreshed every 1-2 minutes, rather than several hours. Why? Because programmatic algorithms need to learn and detect fraudulent websites or brand unsafe environments before thousands of impressions are wasted and money heads down the drain. Big data is daunting, but a smart programmatic partner with top-line technology will have a system that can analyze it intelligently so that your impressions are landing in the optimal places. With speedy refresh rates and an algorithm that is constantly evolving, you can also be sure that no impressions fall through the cracks.

An emphasis on brand safety

A big fear for advertisers when it comes to the programmatic space is that their impressions will end up on websites where they don't belong. Click fraud is rampant, and the more hands-off a marketer is the more exposed to dubious practices they feel. Programmatic partners need to have an emphasis on brand safe environments as an unwavering pillar of their offerings. A vendor should be able to communicate to you an approach that ensures your ads will not be subject to delivery in unwelcome channels.

Ashley Bast is one of the leading experts on the programmatic space, its huge potential and its most pressing challenges. As the VP of marketing for AcuityAds, he is plugged into this world like few others. Here’s why programmatic and automated media buying is the future, and things you should look out for when selecting a solutions provider.

A platform agnostic approach

Programmatic does not just equal display. An ideal programmatic partner should offer a holistic approach in multiple media areas including video and social. Display is vital, but the big growth areas in digital (that are really hot with consumers right now) are in the video space, social networks and mobile devices. A well rounded programmatic solution should cater to all devices and serve many different media types. Programmatic will soon expand outside of the normal scope we're using it, including digital-out-of-home methods and television. Smart programmatic vendors are serving video and social ads -- as well as display -- as platform agnostic units.


This is a huge challenge for the industry, and not just for marketers who dabble in programmatic space. Making sure your ads are not just viewable but also seen are huge issues with no clear solution. Many companies are testing eye tracking technology and other methods for getting a clear indication that an ad was absorbed correctly. This metric still has more progress to make, and in programmatic it's important that partners are on top of the latest advancements in ensuring your ads are viewable.

Ashley Bast from AcuityAds continues our conversation by explaining the most surprising thing about programmatic buying and why industry knowledge on the practice must be improved.


Programmatic has been unfairly labeled as a place where ads are served as remnant inventory on publisher platforms. This is a mixed bag of truth. While it's true that programmatic can be an excellent method for reaching open inventory that would have otherwise gone unused, it also reaches premium placements and sites that cater to specific audiences. In fact, the inventory that might be considered remnant can actually be a great thing for brands. Programmatic partners who scrub brand unsafe environments and are selective about the websites they serve on turn remnant inventory in premium inventory because they are omitting undesirable places.

Knowledge of the space

Lastly, maybe the biggest challenge in the programmatic space is that further education is needed within the industry. There are many myths and misconceptions about this space and marketers are not always fully informed. Fear of robots taking over our jobs is an unfounded prospect, especially if you find a solution provider who can address each programmatic challenge with experience and technology.  Don't just rely on your agency partners to give you the story on programmatic, reach out to experts and those marketers in the trenches. You'll be surprised at what you didn't know about the hottest area in modern digital marketing.

Ashley Bast from AcuityAds ends our conversation with some closing thoughts on the programmatic space and why it's never been a more exciting time to be a marketer.

Learn more about AcuityAds.

Ashley Bast is a former Consumer Packaged Goods Marketing Executive and General Manager who has worked on brands at P&G, Campbell's Soup (Canada, UK, and Europe) and Canada Bread. A few of the highlights from his time in Packaged Goods include...

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