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Programmatic 'still needs planners'

News, 13 March 2015

LONDON: The rise of programmatic media buying does not negate the role of media planners, who still need to use a variety of data sources to formulate the best strategies.

Speaking at The Future of Media Research, a conference organised by Mediatel, both OMD UK partner Rian Shah and Denise Turner, head of insight at Havas Media, argued against the idea that programmatic was in any way replacing planning. Warc subscribers can read the full report from the event here.

The proportion of programmatic ad spending against total display in the UK is approaching 50%. Data from Standard Media Index released late in 2014 suggests programmatic adspend is expanding at a rate of around 60% per year.

But Shah argued that media agencies were seeing this fast-growth segment as complementary to, rather than replacing, the traditional way of doing things. "We found that, for programmatic, you need a planner there – someone who knows how people move across channels – if you're going to execute properly," he said.

"Planners at agencies are like sponges. If there's a new source of information, we welcome it. But it takes time to get good insights out of a new source."

Turner added: "You can get the whats but you need the whys, too. Don't just rely on digital data – get out there and talk to people. That's the real job of the planner. You need to look at three or four sources of information to give you the whole story. It's not just about looking at one thing."

Another major theme at the Mediatel event was the question of display ad viewability and fraud. Paul Goode, svp/marketing at comScore cited statistics suggesting that 38% of display ad impressions in the UK hit their intended target audience, while just 37% of these are viewable. To address the problem, he suggested, clients and agencies need to be more realistic in their measurement – and not simply rely on gross impressions.

By contrast, the US is well ahead on cutting out fraud, having recently launched 3MS, a cross-industry initiative that aims to make digital media more hospitable to brands by changing how the value of interactive advertising is measured.

While publishers might be assumed to be hostile to such a change – which would reduce the number of impressions measured – Goode argued that there was actually pressure from sellers of premium inventory in the UK to introduce a 3MS-style scheme on this side of the Atlantic.

"By bringing something like this in, we introduce more scarcity. So those selling dodgy inventory at a mark-up – those who have been making hay these last couple of years – are going to have a problem."

Data sourced from Warc