Programmatic: A New Approach to Media Buying

by Bonnie Rothenstein | July 23, 2015

There’s a new buying strategy taking the media world by storm. It’s called programmatic buying. I’m sure you’re intrigued to learn all about it. I know I was curious, especially since I’ve been struggling to even spell the term correctly.

In simple terms, programmatic buying allows technology and computer software to schedule and place TV, Radio, print, and out-of-home advertising spots. It basically automates the entire buying process.

Positives and Pitfalls

Are there positives to this approach? Of course there are. The biggest would be efficiency. In theory, this practice removes the buyer and seller from the process and allows the computers to do all the work. It cuts down on the back and forth and a lot of the paperwork.

Could there be downsides to this? Most definitely. Relationships are a huge part of this business. This process would basically eliminate them. Unless you are Rosie from “The Jetsons,” computers don’t have the ability to cultivate relationships.

Another element that doesn’t really exist in the programmatic approach is the back and forth of the negotiation. While time consuming, negotiation has always proven effective and even fun.

Loss of control is a concern among buyers as well. In a study conducted by Digiday in March, a huge majority of those surveyed say there is at least moderate loss of control with programmatic buying.

Is this an option for your buys?

If the sole focus is hitting a cost per point or rating points per daypart goal, this is an approach that could work since computers could more easily sort through this data. However, our top priority is to produce calls efficiently. Your buys are based on the programs that are best performers in terms of call volume. Tracking reports are reviewed monthly and schedules are updated based on that data.

While many within the industry expect programmatic buying to be a major part of the buying world, we do not consider it an option for us because our decisions are based on call data. Programmatic buying would not be nearly as effective at reaching your goals.