Programmatic Is Not a One-Stop Solution

2015 08 31   Peter Feinstein   Online vs Offline Media    

I ‘get’ where Andreas Schroeter is coming from in “Why the Traditional TV Buyer Will Never Use Programmatic TV” (Media Daily News, Aug. 20), but he’s offered only sweeping generalizations that don’t work in a general way.

I’m 55 years old, and I have more tech understanding than most of the software engineers graduating these days; the son of one of our neighbor says I scare him because I know his world so well. And I’m a media buyer, and have been, for radio and TV for more than 16 years with my own agency. None of the reasons Schroeter rolled out have any application to my situation, and I’m betting that I’m not unique.

There are two primary reasons why I’m not diving into programmatic very quickly (and at least a dozen secondary reasons, but that’s another story):

  1. Our clients want to run spots and have people to whom they must answer based upon the number of runs they receive any given day. I’ve spent many hours educating them on the benefits of programmatic, including cost savings and efficiency, and they nod their heads like they understand. Yet when it comes down to it, they still want to know how many runs they’re going to get. They don’t understand. And if my clients don’t understand – and they pay the bills – I’m not going to buy it for them. I’d be an idiot, never mind violating my fiduciary responsibility to them.
  2. All impressions are not equal. The failure of programmatic comes down to not really integrating an understanding of who watches what, why and how viewership patterns on TV affect response rates. Case in point, and it’s a beauty: We have a health-product client whose primary consumer demo is women 35-49 who buy oral-hygiene products. We integrated some very compelling retail sales data into cable TV targeting data, and the programmatic schedule suggested we buy many of the cable channels you’d expect, such as TBS, Comedy Central, National Geographic, E! and FX, and then included one or two runs on TVLand, VH1, Syfy and the Military Channel. Yep, one or two runs – the programmatic thought being that an impression is an impression, and we can buy those impressions cheaply, so let’s do it.

The truth is: Until programmatic gets over itself and understands that it does nothave the universal answer – that an impression is not an impression and we’re buying the psychology of the human beings watching the content into which commercial breaks are inserted – then it’s just not going to be a legitimate consideration for media buyers with real money to spend. Who wants to go to a client and try to explain a programmatic schedule plan that a seventh grader wouldn’t be caught dead presenting?

Want to have even more fun? Read all the comments below Schroeter’s post