Programmatic – one of digital marketing’s buzzwords of 2014. It seems today everyone is doing programmatic ad buying – and if you’re not, then some would say your media strategy is lagging behind. 

Most marketers are still trying to make sense of the programmatic buying space and answer questions like:

  • How should I be using programmatic and what can it do for my brand?
  • What types of programmatic technology should I be using?
  • Am I getting the most out of my current programmatic approach?

In the coming months, I will try to address these questions and more with my research, as I have recently joined Forrester’s Marketing Leadership research team as a senior analyst covering the programmatic buying industry.

My exposure to programmatic started at Mediasmith, a small forward-thinking SF agency in 2008. Since then, I have been able to dive into executional and strategic programmatic media buying at Cadreon and Accuen, two holding company agency trading desks. Having the opportunity to work with these agency trading desks has allowed me to understand and help shape how brands like Lowes, Burberry, Pepsi, and Chrysler are looking to leverage ad tech within programmatic media strategies.

With my background and, now, from the privileged vantage point of the analyst, I can share a few initial thoughts about the programmatic buying ecosystem:

  1. The space is complex and in continuous flux – While the programmatic space has started to mature, there are still a variety of ad tech companies that continue to pop up, impacting the choices that marketers make to create sound programmatic strategies. While new companies are popping up, other players in the market are joining forces to meet marketer demands seen by this year’s flurry of merger and acquisition activity.
  2. Programmatic is here to stay – Our forecasts still support long term growth for programmatic media budgets, both exchange-based and in the growing programmatic-direct forms. It’s no longer a question of whether an advertiser should be using programmatic but a question of how they should be using programmatic.
  3. The execution of programmatic has not quite caught up to the idea of programmatic – There are still a number of challenges marketers face in creating effective programmatic media strategies, like inventory quality, transparency, and cross-platform targeting. While marketers have realized some of the great benefits of using programmatic for buying media, much of the power of programmatic has been left untapped.

With my research, I will try to give a clear and compelling view of the key trends and players shaping the programmatic buying space, helping advertisers understand how programmatic media buying can benefit them and separating hype from reality. My initial research production will focus on updating Forrester’s Digital Media Buying Playbook for marketers. 

In the meantime, I’d love to get your take on what is interesting or changing in programmatic media buying. There’s a lot to talk about, so ping me at Looking forward to the discussions!