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The implications of our rush to embrace data and tech are finally emerging

What would happen, I wonder, if we played a version of Mr And Mrs, asking a senior client and their senior agency media director to define some of the new jargon surrounding digital advertising... with no conferring. Programmatic buying, native advertising and demand-side platforms spring to mind.

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As quickly as the new terms have been created, new businesses have arrived armed with bold claims of effectiveness and the offer of fantastic value. But all is not well in the world of DSPs… or do I mean trading desks? The arbitrage system (broking to you and me) established by WPP’s Xaxis to execute programmatic buying has been under the spotlight as a number of clients have questioned the model, with some taking or threatening to take the buying in-house. In response, Group M has been forced to offer an alternative model that claims to have more flexibility built in.

I have questioned before why our industry appears to accept the shift from agent to media owner. It isn’t simply an issue of trust and transparency. It’s about how we are more broadly tackling the digital media world.

Reaching who we want, when we want, with the right message, in real time and at least semi-automatically all seems attractive. It’s exciting and challenging, but surely it requires us to embrace all corners of our industry and to tap all its great brains? Have we too quickly assumed that data and technology will provide the answer? Those leading have manoeuvred digital advertising down a direct response route because it is the path of least resistance and offers greatest short-term profit. Clients (not, I suspect, the most senior ones) have bought the promise of cheaper response. If the payback is there, what harm can be done? Well, maybe the harm is now emerging, with news that clients are considering taking their so-called programmatic buying in-house.

Those leading have manoeuvred digital advertising down a direct response route as it's the path of least resistance

The self-interested drive to low cost per action has also left premium online media owners with massive value gaps that they are now addressing by introducing their own exchanges, wresting some of the value back.

Questions over viewability and visibility are now emerging as brands look to extend the relationship beyond a click and a potentially distorted CPA. Truth is, these issues existed from day one but, in the stampede to demonstrate cheaper CPAs and shiny technology and to sell prepaid inventory, the concerns were cast aside.

People who place viewability and visibility ahead of all other terms may just get to the promised land faster.

Phil Georgiadis is the chairman of Walker Media

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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