Thought Leadership
Getting with the program: Programmatic and the future of digital ad buying


Brandon Mallory
Media Planner/Buyer

Brandon is the Senior Media Buyer/Planner at adworkshop in Lake Placid, NY. He previously worked at True Media in Columbia, MO. In his current role, Brandon also acts as the Tech Planner for the agency. Adworkshop is heavily invested in the Travel/Tourism vertical. Some of his current clients include the Catskills DMO, The Cooperstown, NY DMO, The Baseball Hall of Fame, 1000 Islands DMO and the Adirondack Region Tourism Council.


There’s been a lot of hoo-hah around programmatic lately, do you feel that any of this hype is rooted in reality?

I do. The ability to buy media programmatically has changed the industry. Programmatic buying has improved work flow and increased efficiency. One buyer can now handle all aspects of a holistic digital campaign while using only one or two platforms.


Some of the biggest concerns of programmatic are lack of transparency, premium inventory, and inability to do custom executions. Do you think that this is something that’s going to change in the future, and how/why?

A lot of time and money have been spent on these problems already. Moreover, some of these problems have been, to some extent, solved. Most DSPs allow for granular reporting down to the site level. The days of the “Black Box” are almost over. With most DSPs launching Private Marketplace offerings, the issue of premium inventory is less pervasive. Many Deal ID offerings allow you to negotiate ATF (above the fold) contracts. Using third-party ad servers is a good way to keep publishers honest. As far as custom execution is concerned, buyers have never been provided with more opportunities than they are today.


What percentage of the market do you think will shift to programmatic, away from traditional ad buying through RFPs/IOs?

The answer to this question is a little harder. When discussing a contract for a Private Marketplace or Programmatic Guaranteed inventory, there is still, in a sense, an RFP and IO. In fact, there’s still a buyer and seller having a conversation. I don’t think this is going away. However, as far as the traditional process of pulling rate cards, sending RFPs and going through laborious negotiations, those days are numbered. In the next 5 to 10 years, I expect that even linear TV and terrestrial radio will be bought and sold programmatically. This will not live in a RTB environment. It will likely be akin to the way Programmatic Guaranteed inventory is currently bought and sold for display and video.


Do you think that any of the potential downsides of programmatic, are outweighed by the sheer efficiency and scale that it brings?

I may be a bit biased here, but I believe that the ends justify the means in this case. Aside from some of the concerns we’ve already addressed, people in the industry worry that programmatic buying will eliminate or rather greatly reduce the number of jobs for media buyers and sellers. While this may be true, for every buyer or seller that programmatic has displaced, we’re gaining a job in the ad tech sector. It may not be one-to-one, but where we lose jobs in one area new jobs are being created in another.


What are your recommendations for a smaller, or boutique agency to best leverage programmatic?

It’s tough for a small agency is leverage this kind of tech for a couple of reasons. The first is, of course, resources. Do you have tech savvy buyers that can learn the platforms? The next part is more important. Do your clients have large enough budgets to cover minimum spends? Most DSPs require that you run a certain amount through their platform monthly. This can be tough for smaller agencies. If an agency simply cannot overcome these challenges, I would recommend researching a few ATD’s (Agency Trade Desks). There are good ones out there. They can help you execute holistic campaigns.


How do you think programmatic is going to affect larger web publishers– do you think that there will eventually be a tipping point of publisher adoption of private marketplaces and Deal IDs? If so, at what point in the future do you think this will be the norm?

Many large publishers are already on board and more are signing up every day. Listen, Private Marketplace and Deal IDs are not just good for buyers. This allows the publisher to get a better price for their inventory than in the Open Markets. Some publishers are unhappy with the CPMs they see when plugging into some exchanges. I recently spoke with a rep from TripAdvisor. They have encountered this challenge during the early adoption of selling their remnant inventory. I think Deal ID is the perfect balance for publishers that have this concern. I can see this becoming the norm within a couple years. 2016 is supposed to be a huge year for programmatic. I’m guessing that the successes and failures over the next year will likely determine how quickly it’s adopted.


Any thoughts on programmatic video?

We buy a lot of programmatic video for our clients. It’s important to understand the demographic that you’re trying to reach, however. In the Travel/Tourism vertical, our audience is excited to see beautiful shots of, for example, the Adirondack Park. Planners and buyers need to ask themselves if the audience desires this content. If so, go get it.


Lastly, how do you see programmatic shaping the future of digital over the course of the next 3-5 years?

As I stated before, I see a lot on the horizon. Recently we’ve seen a greater adoption of native advertising being brought to scale and bought programmatically. Also, buyers have started to adopt connected TV. I think it’s only a matter of time before linear TV and terrestrial radio come online.



Adworkshop is an employee-owned, fully-integrated marketing agency providing strategic consulting and creative marketing solutions that help clients solve their evolving business challenges. Currently, they represent clients in the New York regional area for a range of marketing disciplines including digital marketing, media planning & buying, creative strategy & design, website development and hosting, and public relations.

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