Even as programmatic ad buying and selling has been transforming the online advertising ecosystem, there is widespread confusion and misunderstanding about this fledgling technology. Jargon overload hasn’t helped: “programmatic,” “automation,” “RTB” and other terms are tossed about willy-nilly.
A new paper, the first issued by the nascent IAB Programmatic Publishers Task Force, aims to establish a common set of terms and definitions for the industry.
The fact that in a post introducing the paper, Carl Kalapesi, director of industry initiatives at the IAB, chooses the term “crappy” to describe how many buyers perceive programmatic inventory speaks volumes about the challenges afflicting the industry and the need for educational outreach by the IAB. Kalapesi writes:
Concerns [about programmatic] are rampant. Sales people are worried about becoming obsolete, losing their jobs to machines, and declining yields. Some buyers of digital media are worried that only crappy inventory is available programmatically. Aside from perhaps the ad tech community, there’s a great deal of smiling and nodding going on when people talk about the importance of programmatic, and not a lot of understanding. Ad agencies are worried that automation will mean standardization and less of a role for creativity and creatives. On the other side, many see new technological innovation as the source of great potential value – creating significant efficiencies, new markets, and continuing to drive advertising dollars to digital.
To begin clearing up confusion, the paper, titled Digital Simplified: Programmatic and Automation – The Publishers’ Perspective, defines the four main ways of buying and selling programmatically: Automated Guaranteed, Unreserved Fixed Rate, Invitation-Only Auction, Open Auction. The following table outlines the types of inventory and pricing settings for each. In addition it maps the four transaction types to the other terms used to describe them:
The paper also addresses other areas for consideration including prioritization in the ad server, deal ID, data usage, transparency and price floors.
The Task Force includes over 30 publishers and is chaired by Alanna Gombert, senior director programmatic and trading at Conde Nast. This paper represents the first effort by the group to “establish market clarity” and educate the industry as a whole about the programmatic ecosystem. The full paper can be downloaded here [PDF].