Programmatic Direct Catches On

It’s been a pleasure for us finally to see the rise of programmatic direct in 2016. It means media planners are more certain of what they want to buy and they want to be sure they’re able to buy it at the right price and the right time.  They’re not leaving as much to chance (or rather automation) as they did when they were first buying programmatically. We think programmatic direct will be the future of video ad buys.

Why? Because this form of buying takes advantage of automated work flow, but allows the targeting of specific premium audiences — for example, New York Times readers, or Car and Driver visitors.

Historically (and it’s difficult to believe this has already become part of history) if you bought programmatically, it was from an open exchange, and it was done through RTB (real time bidding), an auction system that drove digital ad prices through the floor and convinced many premium publishers not to participate, except with their remnant inventory. In addition, RTB meant that buyers didn’t really know what they were buying, and were often victims of fraudsters.

Now we’re trying to take the best of the programmatic environment — its ability to target carefully, to scale, and to digitize media buying work flow — and extend it to more careful buying. In the past, we were more of an open exchange, while now we’re more into header bidding, Deal ID, and programmatic direct.

You will want to buy programmatic direct when:

1)you want to eliminate the possibility of fraud and malware

2)You want to guarantee the inventory you receive

3)you want to ensure brand safety

4)you still want the efficiencies of buying through an exchange.

Michael Kuntz, Senior VP of Digital Revenue at USA Today captures this change:

I think lots of clients have woken up and they’re saying, ‘We understand there are efficiencies in buying through an open exchange, but I’m not so confident my ads are showing up in the right environment,” Mr. Kuntz said. “I think the pendulum is starting to move away from just buying the right eyeballs in real time to, ‘Yeah, we want to do that, but we also want to make sure our ads are showing up on the right content and in an environment we’re comfortable with.'”

One of the problems slowing the acceptance of programmatic direct is uncertainty about semantics. Digital advertising is full of terms that have been invented to describe small changes in supply or demand side technologies that are supposed to make things easier for the buyer.

For example, at ZEDO we use a private platform to serve our ZINC ads. This makes it secure end-to-end, and allows us to do programmatic direct deals as well as header bidding with our premium supply.  On the publisher side, we carefully choose the publishers that are on the white lists of major brands. We may refer to our deals sometimes as programmatic direct, or we may just say we’re a secure private end-to-end platform.

At the end of the day, all the vendors who are trying to clean up the industry are going to be doing somewhat the same thing, despite the often confused nomenclature.