The Untold Story of Programmatic: Context Over Audience


During several recent conversations with clients, I realized that programmatic buying is increasingly becoming entangled with first- and third-party audience targeting. With that perception, questions inevitably arise: “What would you do if the cookie went away?” “Is programmatic just a fad until the government blocks cookie-based tracking?”

The Truth About Programmatic Buying Success
Environments, rather than audiences, drive a great deal of the success in programmatic buying. (For now, let’s avoid arguments about whether or not the cookie will go away and how the industry would quickly adapt to the use of fingerprinting as a tracking substitute for imperfect cookie-based methods.)

How Programmatic Helps Media Buyers
Technologies search engines use to deliver us relevant content based on our queries are also used in the world of programmatic buying. Instead of, or in addition to, isolating an “audience” based on cookie attributes, buyers can isolate environments that fit the product or service being sold. Technology allows buyers to do this at scale across hundreds, even thousands, of Web pages at a time. Companies like Peer39, Proximic, Grapeshot and even Google within its DoubleClick BidManager demand side platform constantly crawl the Web, enabling keyword-level targeting or categorizing what they see into massive contextual segmentations that are available as levers to pull for programmatic buyers.

Traditional media planners and buyers look for contextual relevance in the media placement (good positioning). The same is true here. An ad selling basketball shoes is more likely to generate a response if it’s placed with content talking about basketball and read by a basketball player. Consumers’ state of mind, driven by the content they have self-selected, is a bridge to consumer action.

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Ryan Derrow
Ryan Derrow

Ryan is Vice President of Media at Empower MediaMarketing, one of the largest independent media agencies in the country. His team plans and executes integrated and programmatic media for clients like Bush's Beans, Dremel, Famous Footwear, LasikPlus, and Rust-Oleum.