The progrennaissance is here

Programmatic is undergoing a rebirth according to Krish Raja, managing director at Captify AU. Here, he looks at what's in store for brands and what the opportunities are.

Programmatic is undergoing a rebirth, and I can’t wait. For many years, nascent programmatic technologies have struggled to keep up with the ‘you dream it, we sell it’ sales attitude set by digital ad sellers of the 2000s, leading to a lack of cohesion between the two main ingredients of our industry; data and bidding technology. 

Having more access to data was supposed to be the lifeblood of programmatic – it was meant to enable everyone to win. We all wanted better yields for content creators, better audience access for marketers, and a more relevant experience for consumers.

Unfortunately, the data that powered this supposed ‘virtuous cycle’ was a 3rd party cookie, which (along with an infinite trail of long tail inventory) created a sad disconnect between what is promised on a sales deck vs the actual business outcomes being driven. 

Did cookie data within programmatic generally deliver higher performing media? Was a cookie data segment easy to deliver for an ad ops person? Did it deliver likelier sales? Did it create value to the media owner or the advertiser? Did it deliver a better experience for the user? It would be generous to say a blanket ‘yes’ to any of these questions at any point in the last 10 years, which is frankly ludicrous.

The urgent irony is that to maintain the virtuous cycle we all wanted, a free and open internet has never been more important. To this end, the eventual deprecation of the 3rd party cookie will ultimately be the catalyst, undoing what never should have been done. In its place will come innovative new AI and ML solutions which will build scalable & privacy safe solutions that cookiebombing could never do. 

At Captify, we’ve always been most interested in what’s in our control using our cookieless programmatic Search Intelligence. We’ve always been focused on making things easy for our clients, instead of more manual audience segmentation. We focused on giving agency traders less manual work to do instead of more daily optimisations. We surprised marketers with data-led insight in the moment they were left blind by the impact of Google’s decisions. 

To this end, Captify practically invented Curated Marketplaces in 2021 – which is now an emerging industry solution for some of the above issues. We were first to market with Cookieless in Australia in 2022. We developed Machine Learning based on Large Language Models so long ago that it’s actually now a relief that doing these concepts are so well understood now.

All of these approaches are pieces of the puzzle to address the issues that actually need addressing. Buyers don’t need more 1-1 personalisation promises. Brands don’t need to follow the right person at the right place at the right time. AdOps folk don’t need lots of people spending hours optimising campaigns. And please, marketers don’t need more false media metrics at the bottom of the funnel.

What we need is more usable and surprising insight that understands actual consumer intent. We need fresh data modelled across media channels equally. We need our data, our tech and our humans to be aligned on how to achieve business outcomes for marketers together. 

In short, we need to rid the world of the silly accidental consequences of Programmatic v1, where data and technology were each other’s enemies on workload, accountability and price management – instead of the best friends they were supposed to be.

Brands have temporarily lost faith in programmatic due to some of the above problems – on top of economic issues – and they’ve instead taken the easier route back into the rising number of walled gardens, which if continued will have even more disastrous long term consequences. Agency teams will break if they have to buy dozens of walled gardens as their resources crunch. This will lead publisher ad yields to decline to the point of extinction, leaving consumers with a less choice and less access to quality content.  

Over the coming year, Cookieless + AI + Curated Marketplaces are three of the new ingredients that make me excited about the next evolution of programmatic solving real brand problems in a unified, efficient and accountable way.

Krish Raja is the managing director at Captify AU.



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