“Programmatic” is ANA’s Marketing Word of the Year

ana programmatic splash

The Association of National Advertisers (ANA), a leadership group that represents 640 companies carrying 10,000 brands and spending 250-billion marketing dollars, declared “Programmatic” its 2014 Word of the Year. The ANA surveyed 349 participating members to choose that term. (“Content” was a runner-up.)

The survey did not especially pertain to audio advertising. But some of the member quotes, disclosed from the survey, reveal the scope of thinking in the media-buying universe.

“It is everywhere and will eventually be the only way media gets bought until the next big advance.”

The adoption of programmatic buying in the audio and streaming audio worlds is generally understood to trail adoption in web display and video. However, some of the ANA survey remarks indicated a get-up-to-speed urgency that might not be exclusive to audio media buying:

“It is the least understood but most used word in marketing. Nobody can define it, but everyone wants it.”

“This was the word that has been thrown around the most and has everyone scrambling to understand what it means and how it would impact their business.”

In a recent webinar hosted by Gordon Borrell, he predicted that programmatic buying will take over in audio by 2024 to such an extent that most sales rep jobs will disappear. At the end of the webinar, in a Q&A period, the first question was this: “Can you explain what programmatic is?” The prediction and query combined into a moment that crystallized both the urgency and still-lagging awareness of programmatic.

Programmatic advertising refers to software-based buying of “smart impressions.” Smart impressions (in audio) refer to ads placed in the ears of listeners who have been qualified by data analysis as favorable recipients of the marketing message. In other words, they are in a targeted audience segment. A programmatic campaign is “programmed” to match the advertiser’s audience-targeting need with the publisher’s data-infused audience segments.

Location, age, and gender are the most common qualifiers, and can be harvested from registration information provided by the user in streaming audio platforms. Paul Cramer recently told RAIN News, “We want to get ZAG: Zip, Age, and Gender. That opens up a whole new world of targetability and additional revenue.”

If audio is behind other media categories in adopting programmatic, it’s possible that it will be pulled long in the undertow faster than the pioneers developed programmatic buying solutions. That’s the line of think AdsWizz CEO Alexis van der Wyer gave us recently: “[Programmatic buying] audio is probably five years behind display, and two years behind video. But it might grow faster. The catch-up will be pretty quick.”

In the meantime … it’s the Word of the Year for 2014.


Brad Hill