Tag Archives: Media Promotion

Humans vs. Technology: Why Can’t We Have Both?

Guest Post by Olivia Hottle, ponderingprogrammatic.blogspot.com
See more issues about programmatic media buying here.

We’ve heard of companies that, in the name of efficiency and lowering costs, begin using machinery and other equipment to create their product. After using technology, the company realizes that it no longer needs its human workers, and jobs are cut, resulting in unemployment for workers.

Some are pointing to a similar situation that could occur as programmatic media buying sweeps advertising agencies and marketers. By automating the online display ad buying process, doesn’t this mean that media buyers will no longer be needed? Is this new tech craze going to kill jobs?

It’s important to consider this issue, and on the surface, this problem makes sense. While the trend of programmatic is yet to be known, many are predicting a huge influx of programmatic technologies being used to buy online ads and even TV. We don’t know yet where the industry will go and whether jobs will, in reality, be lost, yet some are against programmatic for this very reason. Even industry executives are split on whether they believe jobs will suffer—An AOL survey showed that 57% of executives do not think jobs will be affected.


For me, it’s a scary thought—after graduation, the profession I seek to obtain is media planning and buying, so the threat of a new technology that could do my job and thus take it from me is frustrating.

But I don’t think the threat is big enough to become a reality. While automation would make things much easier in the online ad world, it certainly isn’t perfect, and the need for humans still exists. Here are a few more reasons why I think we can have our technology and keep our jobs, too.

1. Optimization is Key to Avoiding Dreadful Mistakes

A human media buyer knows that running a brand’s ads on certain websites or alongside television programs that don’t match the brand’s persona or ideals is not a good idea (think porn sites or South Park for a family-friendly brand). A computer program may not understand this, even if seemingly foolproof restrictions are put in place. And this has, in fact, actually happened! Some ads have ended up on Jihad YouTube videos and other inappropriate sites. A human controlling the programmatic buy can notice and prevent these types of issues. But humans optimizing campaigns isn’t just for avoiding disasters—optimizing campaigns to ensure costs stay low, that the budget is being allocated to specific goals (rather than simply putting all of the budget toward a cheap option), and to ensure placements are congruent with brand image and audience objectives is necessary every day in programmatic management.

2. It’s Obvious, but…Computers Just Aren’t People

…and they can’t do things a human with a brain and a personality can. A computer can’t have a conversation with the client to know what the true brand objectives are in order to implement them effectively. A person can. A computer cannot give a presentation to the client summarizing the learnings from a programmatic campaign and make suggestions for the future. A human can. See where this is going?

3. Humans are Flexible

Humans will bend and change with the new technologies that face them. In a few years, a media buyer’s role might definitely change (in fact, they are starting to change now), but this doesn’t mean all is lost. Caspar Schlickum with iMedia Connection points out that programmatic is providing new opportunities for the humans which relate more to data and technology. Do a Google search for “programmatic jobs,” and you’ll find numerous companies looking to hire people to work with programmatic technologies. To me, this doesn’t seem to show that programmatic is taking any jobs, but rather creating more specialized ones. This means that there may be a gap now in the skills needed to be a media buyer and run a programmatic campaign—the previously mentioned AOL study also showed that more than one-third of the surveyed executives think there is a skills gap that needs to be filled. Media buyers may need to invest some time into learning about this new technology, but that’s no reason to run screaming from it.

Neil Pace from McCulloch and Company says it perfectly, “There is no button to push or switch to flip that will just create a media campaign and do all the work for you. Additionally, there will never be a future where all humans will be replaced by robots performing programmatic buys.” I see no solid evidence showing that people will be replaced by machines.

Have you had an experience with jobs being created or taken because of programmatic? Share it in the comments!

See more issues about programmatic media buying here.

Olivia Hottle

Basics of Programmatic Media Buying

Guest Post by Olivia Hottle, ponderingprogrammatic.blogspot.com
See more issues about programmatic media buying here.

It’s a long, complicated phrase with a seemingly even more complicated meaning. However, programmatic media buying is also an important concept for media planners and buyers (and even students seeking a career in advertising in general) to understand. Programmatic buying is becoming a buzzword in the advertising industry, and while some controversies exist over its usefulness (that’s a different blog for a different day), there is no denying that buying online display ad space programmatically is starting a lot of conversations in the advertising world.

But what exactly is it? A recent Millward-Brown study said that advertisers don’t even seem to know—60% of respondents said they “didn’t feel that the ad industry had an accurate and unified definition for the term.” So even though I don’t have direct experience with running a programmatic media buy*, I believe the concept is so important and relevant to advertising trends that it needs to be discussed and defined.

At its core, programmatic buying is simply a way to buy display ads online.

Historically, advertisers had to manually purchase online display ad space by reaching out to specific websites and buying certain sizes of ads.

Source: callum.stephenson.710

Programmatic buying is a way to make this process more efficient and specific.

A company that sells cooking products can certainly buy display ads on recipe sites. But with programmatic buying, the cooking products company can use data-driven insights of their typical consumer (say, a thirty-year old woman who also likes to do DIY crafts and has young children), and buy sites that have visitors that are “lookalikes” of this consumer.

Sites are able to tell who a consumer “is” by their previous search and browsing history, obtained through cookies and pixel tags.

Cookies are bits of code that are saved on a web browser and retrievable for other uses later. The cookies have a unique ID that is triggered on various sites, proving the users to be the same person.

Pixel tags refer to a small, invisible GIF pixel embedded in a page (such as the “thank you for purchasing” page on Amazon and other online commerce sites). These pixels can “read” the cookies on a site, as well, and discover further data about consumers by tracking the other sites they visit.

A computer and an algorithm execute programmatic buys.

However, humans are still much needed in this process to help optimize the ads’ targeting. Sometimes the buy will utilize real-time buying (RTB), which is an auction-like environment for buying impressions of display ads online. RTB methods only buy domains, but a programmatic buy can include specific pages on those domains (the weather section of a newspaper website, rather than the newspaper site as a whole).

Programmatic buys can also occur when the advertiser buys a certain amount of digital impressions from a website publisher beforehand.

Advertisers can also retarget their consumers. For example, a consumer who has recently visited a site, looked at a specific pair of shoes, but then did not buy ultimately the shoes can be “followed” around the web. This consumer will be served an ad featuring that specific pair of shoes. (These types of ads often show up on Facebook. You know, the creepy ones that make you swear someone was watching your every move?)

Advertisers are still able to set certain parameters when buying programmatically, as they would normally when considering how they will buy display ads. They can set the bid price, total budget spend, campaign flight dates, and similar specifics.

Having at least a general understanding of programmatic buying is beneficial. From here, we can see where programmatic is headed and the issues surrounding it.

Olivia Hottle

*Full disclosure: I briefly shadowed employees at Amnet in New York City during the summer of 2014 to further understand and ignite my interest in programmatic media buying.

Three UNBELIEVEABLE Reasons Sites Such as Buzzfeed, Upworthy, and FTW are Absurdly Popular

What are they?

Over the past several years, sites such as Buzzfeed, USA Today’s FTW, and Upworthy have exploded in popularity. These sites link viewers to viral content from the web. These sites have articles which are filled with pictures, videos, or GIFs with minimal amounts of text. From July 2011 to July 2013, Buzzfeed’s unique monthly viewers rose from 4.3 million to 19.3 million. The other sites have seen dramatic increases in viewership as well. In December 2013, FTW had 17.3 million unique viewers, and Upworthy is the fastest growing media site of all time.


These sites are not without controversy. Buzzfeed articles have been criticized of plagiarism. Upworthy’s headlines make outrageous claims, often letting down the viewer when clicking on a title. These titles have been labeled “clickbait”, which entice viewers to click on them. FTW follows in a similar vein as these sites. An example of such headlines can be seen here, from my screenshot from FTW’s main page at ftw.usatoday.com.


Other complaints include the simplistic text in these articles. The phrase “listicles” has emerged because of the Buzzfeed-esque article style, which includes pictures or GIFs and short captions. Other complaints include misinformation through articles or picture captions. A humorous site, buzzfeedminusgifs.tumblr.com, illustrates this writing style, pointing out one “article” simply repeats “THIS”  after every image.

As I have an extreme dislike for sites such as these, I wanted to explore what makes them so popular. I may not want to make a site like Buzzfeed, but if I feel I came up with an idea that gets me loaded, I would definitely try. An idea we may or may not like still can appeal to a large amount of people, and isn’t that the whole goal of marketing a product?

The Takeaway

“Well, what’s the takeaway?”, you ask. By using these techniques, an advertiser can get large amounts of visits to a site if their titles are enticing. These sites often aim to have an emotional response from their audience, and often they do. Upworthy often posts inspirational stories which viewers can relate to. Buzzfeed posts lists of funny GIFs about situations many of us have experienced. GIFs and pictures of our trends from the past of awesome or horrible things we like at the time make us feel good and/or embarrassed.

These listicles are also easy to digest, which is especially important when viewing from a mobile device. By utilizing these techniques, advertisers can increase their viewers if they are aiming for the audiences which visit these sites. Advertisers have noticed, and Buzzfeed’s pages are littered with ads such as United’s sponsored article, “13 Ways Speed Skaters Brave the Boundaries of Physics”. The article is the advertisement, and it’s written just like an article you would expect to be posted on Buzzfeed. In addition to mentioning United several times at the beginning, they have links to their Facebook page and a real time feed of their Twitter activity on the side of the page. The ad blends in with the rest of the home page and doesn’t feel like the average web ad.

The condensed, Buzzfeed version of this article on why these are successful:

1. This style of website draws an emotional response from the viewer.

2. The headlines do a good job of grabbing the viewers’ attention.

3. The articles are quick to read and easy to view on a mobile device.

How effective do you think these sites are as advertising vehicles?

– Shawn Dewey

Are You Ready To Kinect…with an Interactive Store Display?

There have been plenty of times where you find yourself distracted in shopping malls or stores. They usually get your attention by their giant posters, fresh styles, flashy art, and delicious smells. Is that really enough in our society? Our lives are much different now and we have to think bigger than the bottom line that we are used to. The tool that is driving this new technology era for window displays would have to be the Kinect for Windows. What are the advantages? The Kinect is used mainly for Xbox 360, Xbox One gaming consoles, and Windows PC. My main focus is on Windows PC, because the Kinect + the PC is more about helping society become more efficient than it is to be for our entertainment.

Retail stores use the Kinect to make an “interactive” display that grabs window shoppers attention and places them into a whole different connection. They let shoppers become part of the brand and interact with their product. A good example is the Nike window display which measures how well you jump compared to professional athlete records. There is no better way than to support athletics and combine it with the audience. The setup has an RGB camera, depth sensor, voice and facial recognition. The Depth sensor has an infrared laser (body heat) and monochrome depth sensor that captures 3D data under any ambient light, which provides 2,048 levels of sensitivity. The Kinect can reach up to 6 skeletons and locate 25 different joints including fingers. The knowledge for this kind of medium prepares us for newer technology.  The different designs for interactive window displays can cost you a pretty penny, but is it worth it? Nike seems to think so as they’ve stated, “Retailers and office spaces are attracting and connecting with customers creatively.”

There are other ways besides an attractivekinect design that will lure in the audience members, such as retail stores, hospitals, manufacture’s, education, etc. There are two companies that really put the Kinect to use. GestSure, allows surgeons to use hand motions to study a patient’s medical images such as, X-rays, MRI’s, and CT’s. They use it without having to manipulate the images and having to wait for prints. At EPIC Machine Vision they see the Kinect to be very useful. The manufacturer, NUI (Biometric natural user interface), identifies one person to log onto a machine and will ignore other workers around him. The device is used by gestures, voice commands, and will shut down if the worker leaves on break.

What we can take away from this is that the Kinect for Windows could be opening up a new revolution to advertise, sell, help, and create new items. Do you think the Kinect for Windows is worth investing into your business? If so, what do you think would be the benefits? If not, what concerns would you have for this product?

Sara Clark

Spirit of Competition? Advertising and the Olympics

The athletes are competing, shouldn’t advertisers be allowed to compete as well?

In the world of athletic competition, the ideals and honor of athletes and the voyage they take in order to be the best among their peers in the realm of athletic competition gives birth to some of the best stories of perseverance. But this story is one that the Olympics committee doesn’t want told.

A new Guinness ad has the still image of Tracy And Lanny Barnes, twin sister biathletes who have been to the Olympic stage and had their share of ups and downs. The ad tells the moving story of how they both have competed in past Olympics with no medals.  This was their last year to compete for a medal. Tracy did qualify, but Lanny become too sick at trials to compete. Tracy gave her spot on the team to her sister, in one of the most unselfish acts of kinship and as well sportsmanship. And yet this tale cannot be told during the pinnacle showcase of international competition, due to sponsorship rules of the Olympics Committee.

According to Adweek ,the Ad was taken down by Guinness for a black out from January 30th til February 26th. This blackout, in a wake of media with Olympic athletes leading up to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, seems uncharacteristic to an advertising plan for Guinness.

If you missed the Ad on TV, don’t be surprised. According to the Huffington Post, it only ran for one day before U.S. Olympic Committee rules forced it to be blacked out from Jan. 30 to Feb. 26. The reason? Guinness happens to be a competitor with an official U.S. Olympic Committee sponsor.

In an event that is built on competition amongst athletes, the world of advertising seems to take a different path. Sponsors can buy out large chunks of advertising or become an “official sponsor” thus alienating their competitor’s ability to advertise during the event or in this case with Olympic Athletes.

This also applies to some of the events that take place during our renowned events such as the Super Bowl, where Budweiser and Coke have cornered their market by producing the only commercials in their market. Gone are the days of strong advertising when people used to watch the Super Bowl in hopes to see brands like Budweiser and Miller duke it out during the commercial breaks. This lack of competition in our current climate may lead to less originality in the creative process of a brand, which could be the reason why we hear friends say that the Super Bowl commercials are getting weaker each year.

Some of the competitors of Budweiser and Coke found ways to get around the commercial buyout, with Pepsi Sponsoring the Half-Time show and Newcastle making an ad featuring “Pitch Perfect” actress Anna Kendrick in a “mega huge game day ad” that the brand “almost made,” and the results according to Newsday were “unexpected and hilarious”.

Although companies find ways to get their brand seen, I still think it takes away from a free market of capitalism.  The free market of advertising rights during special events should be just as competitive, and these “blackouts” because of media monopolies may backfire, cutting into ad industry profits.

– Eric Benson

Can Ultraviolet Sustain its Rapid Growth?

Every time I walk by the movie/TV section of a store I notice that almost every single Blu-Ray (BR) title has the Ultraviolet (UV) logo on the front cover, and that a lot of DVD titles are starting to include UV copies also. It is no secret that the addition of UV copies to BR titles helped BR sales go up 24% in the first 6 months of 2013 (Check out this link that talks about the growth of UV).

For those who do not know what UV is, here is a short video explaining what it is:

The rapid growth of UV got me thinking about the last time I saw an advertisement or promotion for UV; after about five minutes of contemplating I couldn’t think of one. But this baffled me–why couldn’t I recall whether or not I had seen one UV commercial before?

UltraVioletIn today’s world, if you don’t advertise a product as large as this then you are not only behind the times, but you are also setting yourself up for failure in most cases. Despite this UV digital locker openings increased by 65% last year; that’s a huge turnover rate!

UVPartnersThere are many factors that have contributed to the growth of UV, despite the minimal advertising presence. For starters the number of providers and partnerships that UV has obtained since the initial release in 2011 has grown substantially. UV had the support of five of the “Big Six Studios” (Paramount, Sony Pictures, Fox, Universal and Warner Bros; plus Lionsgate) when it was launched and has since seen the likes of DreamWorks Animation, Relativity Media, Anchor Bay, and television studio giants BBC and HBO jump aboard the UV train to name a few .

UV’s growth couldn’t have been possible without any streaming providers. The very first provider of UV was Flixster back in 2011 and has seen 12 new providers join the UV family. Here is a link to a chart showing all of the streaming providers and what countries they are available in. The premier UV streaming provider today is Wal-Mart’s VUDU.

VUDU offers the most UV titles available today by a significant margin over other streaming providers and are the only provider to offer an HDX quality version of a title; which is essentially 1080p quality or the equivalent to BR quality. There are three providers that allow consumers to convert their physical DVD’s into digital UV copies that get stored in the cloud with the rest of the consumers UV collection.

UV digital copies are starting to be added into older movie titles that are on DVD and BR and are also starting to be advertised in T.V. spots for the release of new titles coming out on BR. I personally have only seen one of these T.V. spots and couldn’t find any on YouTube when searching for one.

Movie titles used to offer a digital copy version of the title that could be redeemed on iTunes and added to your iTunes library, or a consumer could directly download the title onto their computer through Windows Media Player.

Which begs the question, what has made UV so much more appealing to consumers and why did studios switch over to UV from digital copy?

For consumers UV offers a simple, cost-effective and convenient way to enjoy entertainment at home, at work or on the move, and allows for transfer of discs-to-digital. For studios, it’s a way for them to revive home video sales by offering movie lovers more flexibility in how and where they access their content. It also helps eliminate piracy.


Despite all of the perks of UV, can the growth of UV continue without having much of an advertising presence? And if so how long do you think it can last? What kind of possibilities do you see in the future for UV, if UV started using advertising to create more awareness of the product? Would you consider setting up an UV account after learning about it.

Tyler Bradley

This Blog is Brought to You by Product Placement

Product placement is nothing new in the history of television. But in the days of DVRs and online streaming, advertisers are trying more and more methods to make sure consumers see their product. Enter product placement.

When television first started gaining ground in the 1950s, many shows were sponsored by products, two of the best examples being “The Colgate Comedy Hour,” sponsored by Colgate-Palmolive, and “The Flintstones,” sponsored by Winston Cigarettes. The latter featuring the characters smoking and reciting the Winston jingle at the end of each episode.

Flinstones Jump ahead fifty years, and the situation is the same, but more subtle. Today, companies still sponsor television shows, but instead of blatantly announcing it on air, it’s placed in the background, or a central part of a plot (a little more obvious).

This could most effectively be attributed to the fact that in this day and age, people who watch television—whether with a TV or online—can easily skip commercials. Because of this, brands are looking back to a reliable source to combat commercial-skipping.

When it comes to scripted shows, Oreo is no stranger to successful product placement. An Oreo was essential to the plot of the “Friends” pilot episode, as well as other episodes. Most recently, Oreo guest-starred on an episode of Modern Family to commemorate the cookie’s 100th anniversary.

AMC’s Mad Men is a show dedicated to pitching advertising to clients. Pitches aside, there was a specific example early in the series that coincided with a spectacular plot point. Don sets up a Heineken-themed dinner party for his clients. During the party, his wife, Betty, becomes the butt of a joke, embarrassing her, causing an explosion upon the party’s close.

Probably the most notable recent product placement was in a season two episode of the Fox show New Girl. In the episode, two of the roommates, Jess and Nick, go on a date. To get there, Nick borrows another roommate’s car, a new Ford Escape.

The Escape plays an important role in the plot of the episode, and is featured heavily. Between every location they attend on their date, the Escape is shown on camera. They even go so far as to highlight the foot-activated lift gate, and in case you missed it the first time, don’t worry, they show a close up. Also, during the broadcast was an Escape commercial during every commercial break of the original run.

Another notable trend in product placement is in “unscripted” or reality shows. These shows offer a different opportunity for products, showing “real people” using them.

The History Channel show “Pawn Stars” shows all of the characters going on a diet, specifically a Subway Diet. In a later season, one of the characters meets his weight loss goal, giving fans a personal view of the diet at work.

The new Discovery Channel show “Street Outlaws” is another product-sponsored show. The show revolves around street racing in Oklahoma City, OK with a “top ten” list. Nearly every character on this show runs nitrous oxide on their car, and every person who does runs a Nitrous Express system, the show’s sponsor.

These examples show that product placement is alive and well in television shows. As viewers are busier than ever and demand more control of what they view, advertisers are looking back to a proven force to bring products to the viewer’s attention in this new world of DVRs, on-demand and online streaming.

Do you notice product placement in TV shows? Do you find it to be distracting in some or all situations? Please, comment below.

Kyle Flathers

The Real Super Bowl Winners

Budweiser Can have the Buzz, M&M, Chevy, & Coke Will take the Buys

Despite the popularity of Budweiser’s ads, product consideration numbers and audience acquisition numbers show M&M’s, Chevy, and Coke coming out on top.

Don’t be to quick to crown Budweiser’s “Puppy Love” king of the Super Bowl Commercials, Bud’s Product consideration and audience acquisition numbers are less than adorable.

It was easy to see that the Seahawks dominated the Super Bowl, with a hefty beating of the Broncos, but determining the winner of the “best” super bowl commercial, might not be so clear. Popular opinion would say that Budweiser’s “Puppy Love” was the winner, based on the immense popular feedback it got for its creativity and ‘heart’.

Sure, “Puppy Love” might be the most beloved Super Bowl commercial, but that translate into it being the most successful ad? Perhaps for the general public, but media planners need to look at the effect of an ad had on Product Consideration and Audience Acquisition when weighing the success or failure of an ad. These two factors are more accurate measures of actual ad success. Despite being the most popular ad, Budweiser’s “Puppy Love” didn’t finish first in either product consideration or audience acquisition, and in fact was not the most successful Super Bowl ad.

What’s all the Buzz about?

When looking at which brand generated the most social buzz from its Super Bowl ads it is easy to see that Budweiser came away as the clear winner. Budweiser’s “Puppy Love”, “A Hero’s  Welcome”, and Bud Light’s “Ian up for Anything,” went 1,2,3 in terms of generating buzz based on a study done by Spot TV, which tracked account views, comments and social activity on the main social media sites. Based on the study, it is clear that Budweiser’s ads seem to connect the most with the general audience, as its generated both the most views and conversation. Budweiser may have won the social media war, but how does their success translates in terms of product consideration and audience acquisition?

Let’s talk about Product Consideration

What is Product Consideration? Product consideration is the likelihood that a consumer will go out and buy your product the next time they are in the market. So which brand had the greatest effect on product consideration, and in turn raised their product consideration the most? According to a study done by YouGov BrandIndex, which tracks public perception of thousands of brands across the world every day, M&M’s was the brand that increased its brand’s product consideration the most, gaining a 6.7 % increase in product consideration due to its Super Bowl ads. Surprisingly, of the ten most talked about ads, only Budweiser cracked the top ten in terms of product consideration change, but their change was actually negative, with a 0.8 % decrease in product consideration post Super Bowl. Also surprisingly, none of the top ten ads in terms of product consideration landed a spot in the top ten most popular/talked about ads. “There can definitely be a difference between someone seeing an ad that they liked creatively that made them laugh or cry or smile, and wanting to go out and buy that product,” says Ted Marzilli, CEO at YouGov BrandIndex.

A study done on product consideration shows that M&M’s gained the most n terms of product consideration from its Super Bowl ad campaign while Budweiser actually saw a decrease in product consideration.

Another Measure of Successes: Audience Acquisition

Audience Acquisition can be defined as the ability to get a consumer to join your social community; which includes acquisition of Twitter and Instagram followers, facebook likes, and YouTube subscribers. So why is audience acquisition an important factor when measuring Super Bowl ad successes? According to Listen First (a New York-based social analytics and strategy shop) co-founder/co-CEO Jason Klein, “It’s easy to get caught up in what spots ‘worked’ or didn’t work based on subjective opinions or short-term data. But we believe a longer view that looks at the growth of brands’ social communities is also a critical benchmark. After all, this is not about moments of ephemeral fan engagement through a tweet or a video view — this is about how brands can acquire fans that they can speak to over a long-term relationship.”

So in sum, Audience Acquisition provides brands with captive audiences which they can more easily and continually target in the future. This becomes a rather important benefit a brand stands to gain from a successful Super Bowl campaign. According to a study done by ListenFirst, the brands that gained the most in terms of product consideration from the Super Bowl were Chevy and Coke. Coke acquired the most new members to its social community thanks to the Super Bowl, while Chevy saw the biggest percentage growth in their social community. For Budweiser they finished a modest fifth in terms of Audience Acquisition.

The Winner Is?

In terms of audience acquisition; Chevy and Coke gained the most from the Super Bowl ad campaigns.

With product perception increasing the likelihood of one buying a certain brand the next time they are in the market, and audience acquisition providing a brand with frequent contact with potential customers, these metrics are vital in determining the success an ad has on the market. Therefore, an ad doesn’t necessarily have to be popular to be successful. Based on this year’s ads, we can see that success from popularity didn’t translate into product consideration and audience acquisition. So well Budweiser may be tooting their own horn for the popularity of their ads, I’m sure M&M, Chevy, and Coke are quietly patting themselves on the back, knowing that they gained the most from the Super Bowl.

– Carver Terpstra