Programmatic Ads: Is the Proof in the Pudding?

When my programmatic writing wheels started turning, my mind immediately swung comfortably to the search, social, native and video pieces on my imaginary, but personally preferred, paid media chess board. There I could easily talk about the who, what, when, where, why, and how I want to target – along with what the results would be – but there was an investigatory puzzle piece missing.

When deciphering this this programmatic playground, I asked myself, “Where are my ads showing? Are my ads and their surroundings even real? Are they reaching real humans? And then what happens?” Google’s phonetically wiki-ed definition of programmatic (pro·gram·mat·ic) is, “of the nature of or according to a program, schedule, or method.” Slightly more concrete and systematical than some of the programmatic unknowns in the ad world, so I decided to go straight to the source of some trusted leaders in the space to help decipher programmatic priorities for 2017.

Fake News:
With the recent uprising of fake news, my mind once again automatically went to a social view, but the truth is that this issue is pressing in many areas within the (digital) advertising world. Dennis Yuscavitch, Director of Product Marketing at Outbrain, shared that content marketing platform has instated a “no new friends” policy of sorts in that as it relates to their trusted native amplification streams, the company is not allowing any new social aggregators (and is reviewing current agreements with a fine tooth comb), which are often at the gut of fake news cases due to no editorial team and content, no original domain, and very high ad to content ratio.

Verified Content & Impressions:
Programmatic ad networks intuitively have the reputable technology to scan all promoted links for potential malware and redirect cases. For example, they can then weed out any faulty signs in which an advertiser might be sharing one link initially, but then creating an undesirable redirect after a campaign launches. Jake VanWoerkom, Director of Business Development at Resonate, an audience intelligence advertising network, stated:

While programmatic advertising has quickly become one of the best strategies to automize the digital ad buying process and reach niche audiences at scale online, the need exists for high quality data targeting and ad fraud filters to help steer clear of the negative reputation and issues for which it has become known. Experienced personnel managing and executing digital campaigns from start to finish, while employing Gold Standard industry solutions (i.e. Integral Ad ScienceTrustMetricsMedia Ratings Council) will provide fraud free, safe media and ensure programmatic buys are of the highest quality.”

Premium Publisher Control:
Essentially, there are reputation risks associated with programmatic advertising and the main risk is obvious: having a brand advertisement running alongside and within content that in some way goes against the brand’s message and values. This could be in the form of running the wrong ad on the wrong article (i.e. a car advertisement on an article discussing the impact of drunk driving), or it could be running on low quality websites with offensive content.

The main way to counteract this reputational risk is with tight contextual targeting and the implementation of whitelists. There are a number of contextual tools available, from keyphrase and keyword targeting, to thorough white and black lists tightly honing in on the content you run alongside. This can ensure brands are running on sites and articles that align with their core values, and promote the quality and value the brand provides.

Equally as important is what publishers your clients’ content appears on and what control said publishers have. Many networks work with thousands of publications, but it’s important to know with what networks publishers have some control so it’s important to focus (when budget and content allows) on high quality/reputable “premium” publications.

With the above parameters taken into account, the proof might just be in the programmatic pudding for digital ad buyers this year.