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The misnomer of programmatic

25 Mar 2019  |  Bob Wootton 
The misnomer of programmatic

Bob Wootton looks at how adland corrupted one of its favourite buzzwords. Plus: Why we need a review into the value of media channels, and CRM forceably revisited

A couple of years ago, legacy media channels jumped on to the programmatic bandwagon. And haven’t got off.

I served for two years as Executive Director of global out-of-home body, FEPE. In that role, I had many conversations about this with media owners.  I suggested a channel whose very nature was indiscriminate, one to many (or at least several) and far from completely digital (see below) could not be truly programmatic, which requires real-time one-to-one dynamic targeting and adserving.

A leader of one such large company whose blushes I’ll spare kindly explained. “The online players have been eating our lunch for too long already.  If advertisers and media buyers are blinded by ‘programmatic’, which they are, then we must claim parity whether or not it’s completely true”.

This explains why most from radio to newspapers feel they must have a ‘programmatic’ proposition.  Thus the corruption of meaning over the past couple of years, so that it now means pretty much anything that uses a bit of data ‘better’ to place an ad.

More fool the aforementioned advertisers and buyers, I guess, but hey, language is a dynamic evolving thing, innit?

And News International has launched an influencer agency, The Fifth.  ‘Interesting*’ timing given the bemusement at the ISBA conference after pioneer influencer agency Gleam Futures’ session...

Sustainability of channels

Outgoing Kinetic CEO Stuart Taylor made an interesting and timely call which prompts wider reconsideration of the whole issue of the sustainability of our advertising media channels in the face of the GooBook monster.

He drew attention to the decline in static billboards which are still the cornerstone of OOH’s massive reach and scale.  Fingers of blame are pointing all ways on this one but the core point is spot on.

And it’s not just OOH.  News media of record are still in trouble and broadcast isn’t looking too rosy either.

High time therefore for the unthinkable and something which ISBA colleagues of the time will recall I really wanted to initiate but for which there was no leadership support – a comprehensive review of the value of channels to advertisers with a view to establishing minimum pricing guidelines which acknowledge the importance of these channels looking forwards.

Otherwise advertisers will be looking around one day soon and find they’re left with, er, Facebook.  And by then it will be too late to kick themselves. Or their auditors.  Or procurement.

And so to the F-bogeyman again

Another week, and in a month where we’ve seen an agency buy a porn mag to close it down (?!), yet more high-profile examples of the major online players’ concerted disengagement from their responsibilities.  (Reminder: terror, suicide, hate, election rigging etc.  You must have got the drift by now).

Meanwhile, it’s been reported that Zuck is now contemplating a ‘pivot’ away from the business model that has made him richer than Croesus.

New Zealand’s advertisers are the latest to signal their displeasure in the wake of Facebook’s pathetic and continued failure to take down video of last week’s mass killings there.

We can only hope that they have more resolve than their US or UK counterparts and remain on strike for a significant period.  The sooner effective regulation is imposed the better.  It can hardly be draconian enough.

Recent Advertising Association and ISBA events have also seen a shift towards addressing our industry’s issues and away from brushing things under the carpet so everything looks shiny.  A welcome development.

CRM forceably revisited

Some time back, I was critical of CRM.  I saw it a badge that companies wore - mainly when speaking to themselves, which they do a lot – to make themselves feel better about what they do.  Few practice anything a customer might recognise as benefiting them.

A recent experience caused reflection and, unfortunately, crystallization of this POV.

My iPhone was getting a bit old and, courtesy Apple’s cynical software updates, was slowing so I sought a new one.

I wanted to hedge my bets for the arrival of 5G, currently being overhyped to death like every other wonder tech before it but probably of some interest within a couple of years.

So I opted for Apple’s Upgrade Programme where, for a monthly payment, you can switch phone without penalty after 11 months.  This is underpinned by an interest-free loan provided by Barclays Partner Finance (BPF), so an in-store application for credit is required.

For some reason, I was refused credit (twice) for the first time ever in my lengthy stint on this mortal coil.  I was frustrated but curious to learn why, given that my credit rating is near maximum reflecting significant assets and zero debt.

Understandably, Apple’s shop staff cannot comment or help.  Early calls to BPF were first deflected to Experian while later calls led to an ‘escalation’ of my request for more information.

Barclays Twitter helpline was no use – apparently BPF is a “completely different company”.  Needless to say, it doesn’t have a helpline - and wouldn’t you know it, the “customer services” email link on its website doesn’t work!

BPF people promised calls back and letters, each of which failed to materialise despite follow up, nor has there been any response to the formal letter I sent to BPF copying Apple as the experience reflects badly on them too.

I’ll persist until this is resolved to my satisfaction and am mindful that some of my good marketer friends are high priests of CRM.

But ladies and gentlemen, this is CRM in action.  I welcome readers’ comments, which I fully anticipate will be at least ten to one in agreement.

(By the way, fed up with a palaver that wasted most of a day of my time, I simply bought the phone for cash instead but in so doing forewent the upgrade opportunity).


* as in “May you live in interesting times”

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Thank you for your comment - a copy has now been sent to the Mediatel Newsline team who will review it shortly. Please note that the editor may edit your comment before publication.

NickDrew, CEO, Fuse Insights on 27 Mar 2019
“>The sooner effective regulation is imposed the better. It can hardly be draconian enough.
Hear hear! Any publisher that links to online terrorist content should be shut down, no ifs and buts. And any publisher that runs racist content and encourages racist behaviour should also be shut down and all ads pulled.
You do mean for this to cover all media and not just Facebook, right?

https://www.thedrum.com/news/2019/03/15/uk-tabloids-facing-moral-brand-safety-questions-over-christchurch-terror-video
https://www.bbc.com/sport/football/46504491

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14 Nov 2019 

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