Get With The Program

By Brian Chandler, president

programmaticLately I have been hearing the term “programmatic” more and more. Talk is of how it is changing the advertising industry, and specifically, how it is changing the way agencies purchase and place digital ads.

Even though Commonwealth PR is not an advertising firm, our team has heard the term being thrown around for at least a year. It wasn’t until recently that we decided to get with the program (so to speak) and check it out to see if it was something we could leverage to benefit our clients.

To do this, we turned to the experts at Centro (http://www.centro.net) to find out more. The company, which touts the rank of top 10 in the world for digital ad spending with more than $375 billion spent last year alone, often hosts webinars on industry trends and we took advantage of its latest called: Programmatic 101: Getting Started.

photo courtesy of Centro
photo courtesy of Centro

So what is Programmatic anyway?

In the simplest terms, programmatic is “automated technology” that purchases digital advertising. I like to think of it as software that automatically searches for available advertising inventory all over the world and places your digital ad with little assistance from humans. The pros at Centro like to add the term “infrastructure” to automated technology (which I like), because they have created an entire infrastructure to ensure that these digital advertising buys are strategic, measurable, following online trends, and generating the best results possible. It’s one thing to randomly place a digital ad, but when an automated system does it strategically like this, you’ve hit the jackpot.

Getting back to the program, programmatic has traditionally been used to focus on digital advertising, but after the Centro webinar, I wanted to dive deeper to see how, and how our firm might tap into the programmatic field. To do this, I reached out to Dan Raffe, director of programmatic operations for Centro, who led the webinar, to find out more. Based on our discussion, here’s how PR firms are using programmatic to shake up our industry.

Native Programmatic

“Native” is a term used to define anything that takes on the look and feel of the surrounding it has. For example, native content, placed via programmatic, might be an advertorial piece written by a PR firm that highlights a client, but is placed on a news site in a way that it looks exactly like a regular news article.

Over the last several years, our PR firm has focused heavily on developing content that can be used across multiple channels: press releases, social media content, newsletter articles, blogs, etc. By using programmatic, we can very easily start to share this content via new and strategic channels.

Garnering More Views

Another way PR shops are using programmatic is placing digital ads that link the user back to all that custom content I described above.

“We are seeing a lot of people use it to push out their content,” Raffe said. “They link a digital ad back to custom content that was created, such as a white paper, and it helps to garner more views, shares of a specific piece.”

New Revenue Stream

Let’s face it, programmatic makes placing digital ads easier than ever before. It’s simple, effective, and strategic. With this in mind, some PR firms are starting to consider programmatic as a new revenue stream. It doesn’t require the understanding and experience it used to for an ad buyer to call or email media outlets and other sources, find out their inventory, negotiate buys, send all the creative, etc. (my head is spinning thinking about it.)

“More traditionally, earned media companies, such as PR firms, are now given the opportunity to play in the paid media space since programmatic technology is basically available to any and every type of marketer,” Raffe said, noting that PR shops have realized that they can use programmatic to do more digital advertising on a regular basis without it taking up a large amount of time from their typical PR work.

Will Commonwealth Public Relations start offering this as a service to clients? Let’s just say that it’s on the “program.”