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Programmatic: Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should | B2B Marketing

Metia Group’s Peter Morgan explains why B2B marketers would be wise to consider alternatives to programmatic advertising

Consulting firm Accenture made the front pages of the marketing press last month by launching a programmatic ad buying desk, the latest move in its attempt to muscle in on the advertising industry.

Accenture is making its move because it smells opportunity. Opportunity thanks to the

fraud and malpractice

that have been the advertising industry’s dirty little secret for years, but which blew up in style in the past few years thanks to revelations from a string of industry executives, including P&G’s Marc Pritchard and former Mediacom CEO Jon Mandel.

There is little doubt that Accenture – and doubtless also PwC, IBM, and Deloitte – are well placed to clean up the industry (assuming, of course, that media buying is kept separate from auditing to avoid conflicts of interest). But this latest move poses a question for B2B marketers: is programmatic advertising actually a good thing for your brand?

What is programmatic?

Let’s start with a definition. Kenneth Kulbok, former head of programmatic in EMEA at LinkedIn, describes programmatic as “buying digital advertising space automatically, with computers using data to decide which ads to buy and how much to pay for them, often in real time”.

This approach to buying has enabled a shift in how ads can be targeted: instead of having to buy advertising directly through a specific channel, it’s now possible to target specific individuals with personalised ads wherever, and whenever, they are browsing.

On face value this might sound appealing, but there is a problem – particularly for B2B marketers. Your audience isn’t always in business mode. There are times, and places, when they don’t want to see your ad – where your message has no context, or interrupts. Consider the value of your customer relationships. Are they worth risking through advertising techniques

described in academic research as ‘creepy’


Bob Hoffman –

Twitter’s @AdContrarian

– doesn’t think so. He phrased the issue neatly in a speech to the World Federation of Advertisers last year. “Adtech’s value proposition is this: we will find you the highest quality eyeballs at the shittiest possible locations.”

Does that sound like a good investment to you?

Time to take back control

B2B marketers must react by taking back control of their advertising. Instead of spreading yourself thinly across the internet, invest in a core set of channels that you know your audience trusts. Where they actively consume business content. Where there is clear and measurable value for your business.

The downsides? You might miss out on distracting your target audience during downtime and personal time.

The upsides? You safeguard your brand. Protect your investments. And have confidence that you’re strengthening the emotional connections vital to B2B sales.

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