Opinion: Behavioural Programmatic Fantastic!

Nick Keenan
By Nick Keenan | 3 June 2014
Nick Keenan

It's a funny old media landscape at the moment as everyone in agency land, be it media agency vendor, and/or creative, is desperately trying to climb over everyone else with anything that remotely differentiates their product and service from the competition.

So what’s new right? Well despite the recriminations against big data, smarter technology, and the many other (too many to count and not enough word count), it seems like everyone has jumped the tech bandwagon, stolen the reins, and is now whipping the horse blindly.

The latest battle ground in this relentless chase, and perpetual oversell, is through, you guessed it, hot! sick! whiz bang technology. The long parade of game-changing headlines that far outwit their own claim of delivery matter not, as most, if not all, fall short. At the very least they fail to map out how it connects to a client’s business objectives, and overall communications.

“The latest technology” and digital pageantry has become so commonplace that you really can’t blame marketers for rolling their eyes at the mere mention of data, technology, and/or both as every meeting now seems to start with someone telling you that they have either the best tech, the best inventory, and of course the best audience.....wow really? Are you sure? The last guy that was in here said the exact same thing! Can you all be leading the market at once? Please, for the love of God, do not tell me more!

Increasingly my diary could be filled with meetings to review the be all and end all in planning tools, behavioural science tools, and programmatic tools. All claim to be firing media’s silver bullet, a new modern firearm that will lay waste to any other marketing plan that is still using the tech equivalent of the bow and arrow and not the gun.

So what is good technology in media?

Well for starters when advanced technological claims are made, clients should look beyond the big headlines, and look for consistency in the overall positioning from both the network (if applicable) and the agency. Many products that are launched are known as business model posturing or worse they are simply “pitch tinsel” set up in preparation to win new business. They have little or no intrinsic value and are very unlikely to be used, because it is technology that either sits in isolation to the main product offering of the agency, or it simply does not live up to the hype.

If ‘big data’ is culpable of one really negative thing, it is the plethora of non-traditional data sets that have assisted the snake oil salesmen. Not all data sets are equal, and even low quality data is enabling these cowboys to parade a long line of lotions, potions, and distracting techno motions. But unfortunately most are largely useless magic shows that distract everyone from what work really must be done. You know… “The Work” we are hired to do!

So marketers should always look at the overall building blocks of an agency’s technological product, their consistent step by step footprint, their level of interest and ongoing investment in the technological space. This is because success in this space does not come instantly, it does not come without significant investment, and true success will always have a decent and established history with existing platforms in place.

But above all else it will always be relevant to the overall agency offering of its past, present, and future. This is because successful tech lives and breathes within the existing products and services of an agency, and as such are developed to interconnect with these existing tools and processes to make something of significant value, an evolutionary journey known as incremental augmentation.

True change takes time simply because when something new is launched the boring bit begins, and that is the long road of testing and refinement. No technology can or will in isolation transform an agency’s offering, so instead pay more attention to those who make the understated claim. They are the ones who talk 10% innovation and not grandiose claims borne out of cult-like beliefs or behavioural monomania.

Nick Keenan
Managing director
Maxus Melbourne

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