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Programmatic Buying and Offline Media

Programmatic-media2

At this stage, nearly everyone in advertising has heard about programmatic buying. It’s hugely beneficial – reducing wastage and targeting consumers throughout their entire online journey rather than at certain stages. As “traditional, offline” media continues a rapid evolution towards being completely digital (digital smart TVs, digital outdoor screens…the list goes on), the conversation has begun to shift towards programmatic buying in these legacy media. It’s certainly doable, if not necessarily imminent (bigger markets like the US and Australia are making strides towards this but in Ireland the conversation is in its early days). As with any change, this raises certain questions. Do we want to target all media programmatically? What are the ramifications and limitations?

We need to keep in mind that different media fulfil different roles. Digital is, by its very nature (at least currently), a mass medium that hopes to target individuals. Outdoor by contrast assumes a mass audience profile for all the people that see it, but again wastage is virtually inevitable. Similarly, the likes of Cinema is much more targeted, and yet a lot of people only watch certain movies because their parent, sibling, friend, significant other is keen to see it – you still incur some wastage. One of the main benefits of programmatic is minimising this wastage but other media just won’t be able to get around some degree of it.

Let’s not forget that programmatic works as well as it does because of the vast wealth of data available to digital media planners and programmatic platforms. Tracking online usage patterns via cookies and other means has become a standard across the net. Real time data in the ‘real’ world is significantly more difficult to come by – but not impossible. It’s becoming increasingly feasible to implement biometric response measurement tools (measurements tracking your body’s reaction to stimuli i.e. did you smile upon seeing a certain ad) on outdoor media. This generates data on who is seeing your ads and quite interestingly, how they’re reacting to it. But the more this technology propagates, the greater the concerns around privacy that will almost inevitably arise. As a brand, simply because you can measure a person’s physiological responses to your advertising, doesn’t necessarily mean you should.

A lot of this may sound like future tech straight out of ‘Minority Report’ or ‘Blade Runner’ but it’s not that far off. No matter what, digital generates data, and some very smart folk will learn to harness that data. Expect to see programmatic as a term heard more and more for all media, not just digital display. As usual what we do with that data will no doubt be excellent for advertisers, worrisome for privacy advocates, and a potential means for consumers to only be served more and more tailored and relevant ads. For now it’s all food for thought, but one to keep an eye on.