Programmatic ad trading – automating the process of buying and selling digital media and advertising by using software instead of people - is putting data at the heart of the ad buying process. It is worth noting that although a lot of editorial content has been devoted to delineating what programmatic ‘means’, there still seems to be an inherent association with programmatic and price. As an industry we need to accelerate the education of the marketplace on our lexicon and collectively move beyond the present stigma of cheap.

The evidence of a change in the perception of programmatic is certainly available as Magna Global estimates that global programmatic ad spend will reach $53 billion by 2018 and Mondelez, Heineken and Kellogg’s are just a few of an ever-expanding wave of brands that are shifting serious budget to the process.

The more data available to publishers and the better equipped they are to analyse it, the more they will often be able to charge for their inventory when trading it via programmatic.

Meanwhile, for advertisers, data is paramount when buying inventory, in order to find out more about the audience they are trying to reach with their campaign messages and where those consumers spend their time.

Programmatic trading has ensured that Data Management Platforms (DMPs) – software that picks up, organises, stores and puts data to use - have come of age, as they help marketers and publishers to employ the information they hold about users more effectively.

DMPs have traditionally been thought of as ad tech tools, used by media companies to classify audiences and better monetise their inventory. Meanwhile, for marketers, DMPs have, until now, been largely associated with better understanding customer information and serving well-targeted, more effective advertising across digital channels.

With advertisers now purchasing media across a wide range of sites, devices and via various middlemen, including DSPs and exchanges, the data available can be extremely siloed. DMPs help tie all this activity, and resulting campaign and audience data, together in one centralised location.

However DMPs, and the data they consolidate, are capable of far more than this.

Publishers need to realise the full value and potential of their data assets and harness their power in a way that benefits the whole business. A DMP enables a publisher to learn huge amounts about its audience - what they like and dislike, sites and content they routinely spend time with and the behaviours they exhibit.

This invaluable information can be used, not only to inform ad sales, but also by marketing and editorial departments and to support internal data science initiatives. Whether it’s selling subscriptions, or promoting additional services or events to specific audience segments, it enables organisations to market to users much more successfully.

DMPs can also be hugely beneficial to editorial departments, who have struggled in recent years to monetise their content effectively amid a decline in traditional ad sales revenue.

Women’s interest publisher Meredith has used insights uncovered by mining the data held within its DMP to inform editorial strategy, allowing the brand to better understand the content their audiences are most attracted to.

Before creating a new series of online videos, Meredith analysed over 12,000 videos currently housed on its owned-and-operated sites. It considered thousands of data points, including search patterns, onsite traffic, most-pinned Pinterest items and shared slideshows. Turning first-party audience insights into new media assets in this way, it has been able to produce video content that it knows will resonate with its user base.

Marketers can use DMPs to develop a unified view of their customers across all the channels where they have a presence. The advantages of this extend way beyond advertising, into content personalisation, and informing channels like email, CRM and even other offline touch points. This view also helps marketers solve the problem of attribution, allowing them to understand which channels work best for which customer segments and ensure the most favourable return on investment.


By Joe Reid, MD of Europe for Krux. 

GDPR Summit Series is a global series of GDPR events which will help marketers to prepare to meet the requirements of the GDPR ahead of May 2018 and beyond. Further information and conference details are available at

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