LONDON: Brand advertising is the next stage in the evolution of programmatic but there are several stumbling blocks that need to be overcome, according to industry figures.

Amit Kotecha, head of marketing/EMEA, at adtech company Quantcast told Wednesday's IAB Real Time Advertising Conference that programmatic was currently focused on the bottom of the purchase funnel but that there were significant opportunities in the upper funnel if brands could only get away from a short-term focus.

"Data is not just for targeting," he said. It can also deliver insights about customers.

Writing in the current issue of Admap, Ed Hornby, director of digital delivery at VCCP in London, says there are few good examples of programmatic brand advertising even though creative agencies are interested in this area.

One obstacle he highlights is the unhelpful perception of programmatic that has been perpetuated by those involved in the sector. "Creatives tend not to engage too well with techno-babble," he notes of the jargon and acronyms surrounding the industry.

If you can get away from those distractions and reduce it to its simplest form, he suggests that programmatic is about creating moments – "a union of a time, a place and an experience that means something to the participant".

Another hindrance is a focus on data, which has resulted in building messaging and offers around the points that come out of data analysis and which work best for direct response advertising.

Hornby observes that "teams are implicitly led by a first stake in the ground" and in the context of programmatic, that first stake has so far been provided by data, with creative then made in response to pre-defined situations.

Rather than operate with this "handover" process, he argues in favour of starting with the creative, with iterations and adjustments involving input from data and media planners and production in order to create personalised executions.

And to take full advantage of the opportunities, brands need to be able to develop brand campaigns post-launch and respond to changing contexts.

The IAB is currently inviting advertisers, agencies and publishers to share their thoughts on programmatic advertising in a short online survey.

Data sourced from Admap; additional content by Warc staff