Digital Ecosystem

Programmatic Advertising and why Luke Stillman talks about it

COVID-19 has changed the world. A lot of change that is happening around us is a result of a lot of effort, hard work, skill, and innovative thinking. The Global ad economy is also catching up with the challenging times by adapting to emerging situations. I recently came across a discussion on programmatic advertising, in the backdrop of the current global pandemic, between David Cohen and Luke Stillman.

David Cohen is President IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) while Luke Stillman is SVP Global Intelligence at Magna Global. Both these gentlemen are experts of global renown. David hosted the talk and Luke shared his expert opinion about programmatic advertising and other topics related to the digital ecosystem. The discussion started with Coronavirus. Luke Stillman expressed his views on the situation saying “The last few months have been unpredictable but this could be the time where programmatic advertising could be most useful. When the quarantines first began, we immediately zeroed in on those Asia Pacific markets where in March and April, when everything was going crazy in the US, they were starting in some cases to go back to their new normal. What we saw when we looked at those markets was huge spikes in media consumption; linear TV was up 50 percent in China and lower in some other markets.

“Over time as we watched those markets that were a little ahead of the US in the COVID progression we have seen the viewing trends normalizing and in Canada, the UK and the US it’s back to shrinking year over year and that contrasts with the streaming viewing which was up by 100 percent or more in many markets and has been much stickier and those who have normalized a little bit but they remain at significantly raised trajectory than they were from pre Coronavirus. That is one change that we are going to see globally in every market.

“The other thing we are focusing on is the economies of each of these markets because a key foundation of Magna research is connecting ad spend with economic performance. What we have seen in markets like China and Korea that are pretty close to back to normal life is the huge recovery spike in economic performance but it does not get you all the way back to pre-COVID normal. So now we are looking at even the most optimistic economic forecasts that say this recovery will take all of next year and in some markets into 2022 or beyond.

Programmatic advertising has become increasingly important in the digital ecosystem.

“If you look at trends of consumer behavior just the physical limitations have huge impacts on advertising economy. Look at cinema, a lot of studios kicked new releases to the fall or next spring but it is looking increasingly like that’s not going to be really enough time. China has said no new releases till October or November. As that new cinema reality settles in you start to see changes in the marketplace. Same goes for radio the people who used to listen to radio while commuting, are working from home and prefer video content over audio.

“Even in TV, just the production hurdles for not being able to have a big single unified location, we expect more news and more sports on TV along with animations, unscripted or other formats that could be done without a big unified location. The big trend that unifies them all is that it pushes the consumer towards digital formats.”

Answering a question about the latest report published by Magna Global on Programmatic advertising Luke said, “Our general belief is that when you look industry wise there is every incentive for media owners Ad-Tech companies and brands to say that cookies are antiquated and there are advanced solutions in place and that depreciation of third-party cookies will have zero impact on their business. I think for some that’s certainly true but the reality is that for some, cookies still touch the online user experience. They still touch campaign analytics and attribution models and programmatic advertising through targeting and so as we look at that google privacy sandbox and what the options are that are going to be developed to potentially replace cookies.

“It really depends on how robust that is and how widely accepted that is to know how big an impact its going to be on the digital ad economy. The immediate winners are Google, Facebook and those big players and publishers that have a ton of logged-in users. The ones that are more at risk are smaller publishers where their consumers don’t log-in as well as some ad-tech, multi touch attributions, sequential messaging, cross device frequency capping, dynamic creative, all the things that tangentially touch third party cookies.”

Cutting the discussion short Luke said, “The counter-argument can be, cookies don’t really matter all that much but I think the broader theme here is that consumers are not pushing back against cookies they are pushing back against individual tracking. Today its cookies under threat tomorrow maybe its mobile device IDs or the next day anything else that identifies individual users and not aggregated bucket of users. We think it’s one of the really critical things to watch for the future direction of the digital ad economy.” Watch the discussion on the IAB website for the detailed discussion on programmatic advertising and more.