LONDON: Marketers need greater understanding of programmatic ad buying if they are to benefit from it, according to a leading industry figure.

In Warc's new report, The Programmatic Primer, industry expert Ted McConnell warns that the term 'programmatic' is now used to cover a wide range of meanings. Marketers should be aware that success in this area is down to the way they use data. The fact that trading is automated, by itself, is unlikely to bring many benefits.

The Programmatic Primer: A Marketer's Guide to the Online Advertising Ecosystem, written by McConnell, explains the roles of the different players, how advertisers can go about buying programmatic advertising and how they can use the data it generates to benefit their business. Commentary from leading thinkers and best practice use cases illustrate the opportunities available.

"Listening to their subscribers, Warc got the message that advertisers are feeling ill informed about what programmatic is and what it can do," McConnell said. "The marketing hype from suppliers has reached a fever pitch, and there is also a huge new vocabulary to master. So, we created this primer with the advertiser's interests front and centre."

McConnell brings a wealth of experience to the task, including 32 years at Procter & Gamble, 15 of them in charge of digital marketing innovation, where he built the world's first private ad network.

The extent of the confusion surrounding programmatic was revealed in a recent study by the Association of National Advertisers and Forrester Research.

This found that less than one quarter (23%) of client-side marketers claimed to both understand programmatic buying and to use it, while a further 10% said they understood it but hadn't used it. More than half (55%) lacked a clear understanding of the term or needed to know more about how to apply it to campaigns. And 12% hadn't heard of the term at all.

The Primer aims to bring greater clarity to this particular area of online advertising, and McConnell will be discussing it further in a Warc webinar on June 17. In the meantime, readers can also view free sample content from the Primer.

While no-one can pretend that the programmatic world is simple, McConnell had some reassuring words for advertisers. "It's true that the landscape changes daily," he said, "but the fundamentals of online advertising remain relatively stable."

Data sourced from Warc