Will 2015 be the year that brand advertisers go all in on programmatic advertising? So far, the signs look very good. The best evidence, of course, is that the shift is already taking place. Last year, Procter & Gamble revealed that a full 70 percent of its digital media spend would be moved to programmatic. And P&G is far from the only brand advertiser shifting its spends -- Kimberly-Clark and Unilever are also in the growing club.
These major brand advertisers aren't simply taking a risk with programmatic. They're aware that programmatic is more efficient, and that the reasons not to go programmatic are disappearing one by one. Let's take a look at some of the arguments you may have heard against programmatic for brand advertisers and why they don't stand up upon closer inspection.
Brand advertisers have always run display campaigns
Perhaps the most common argument made against programmatic for brand advertisers is that programmatic display ads for brands don't get clicked on, and thus are unable to create the immersive storytelling experiences that are the essence of brand advertising. But even though this argument has been around for a long time, it never made much sense. Brand advertisers have always run billboards and offline display ads. No one clicks on newspaper or magazine ads either, and yet no one doubts that such offline display ads can be a very effective part of a brand campaign.
Video is now a fundamental part of programmatic
Those who are clinging to arguments against programmatic display are now faced with a dilemma as it continues to expand. Programmatic video is growing more rapidly than anyone might have predicted a year ago and video, of course, is at the heart of great branding campaigns. Perhaps because they're nervous about the growth of programmatic, some in the industry are still trying to push back, arguing that programmatic video isn't the right choice for brands because, as one CEO recently put it, the "timing of the message shouldn't be left up to chance or an automated bidding system."
Wait -- but really? One only needs to step back for a moment to see the problem with this argument. Programmatic video allows advertisers to show their videos not just to anyone but to the very people who have already given off signals that they might be interested in your brand. And the timing is not left to chance. On the contrary, programmatic allows advertisers full control over the timing of their ads. Programmatic is the opposite of leaving things up to chance. It's designed to eliminate much of the chance that brands take when an ad isn't targeted to specific individuals.
The other related arguments you still hear against programmatic for brands are equally weak. Users don't like pre-roll videos? Maybe so -- though most of us are clearly growing more comfortable with online video ads as they become an accepted norm. However, more to the point, most people don't particularly like commercials in the middle of their TV shows either. The question isn't whether consumers love the idea of advertising, but whether they actually watch the videos.
Viewability and brand safety worries are no longer obstacles
This brings us to the classic arguments about viewability and brand safety. In fairness, until relatively recently, all advertisers -- both direct-response and brand -- had reason to be concerned about these issues. And it's true that, as with any industry, there will always be some bad actors. But those making the case against programmatic for brands act as though nothing has changed in the last two years. The reality is that the industry has made enormous progress on these issues, and more and more premium inventory is becoming available for brands that want to restrict their programmatic campaigns to top-notch sites.
It's perhaps not surprising that we still see pushback against programmatic for brands. As marketing budgets shift, there will inevitably be winners and losers. In the meantime, expect more and more brand advertisers to go programmatic. There arguments against programmatic for brands simply don't hold up.
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