Programmatic or Non Programmatic Buying: The Ideal Media Mix Strategy

There is significant buzz around the ‘programmatic’ way in which media is traded. With more inventory sources being lopped up, by SSPs’ & ADX, programmatic is truly a force to reckon with. But is it the only way forward and is it how the world is shaping-up to buy media? I think not.


I am not undermining the value of programmatic buying; it is a great way to optimize media as it provides great control at the very heart of optimization i.e at cookie level. Add to it, the fact that there is a great deal of intelligence and data that goes into buying every impression here; you have an awesome and supremely powerful tool/platform to buy inventory. While this is a definite positive over the ‘blind CPM buy’, there is something that is missing here, something that cannot be overlooked – the human element.

Human element is what differentiates us from being robotic. While, data and technology continue to break new ground every day, there is still something very pungently tantalizing and charmingly different about the way we behave. And while data might get you right 80 per cent of the times, there is still great value that can be unlocked, with that 20 per cent, where the human relations or conventional ways of buying and selling matter.

I personally feel that for a perfect media-mix strategy, an ideal blend of programmatic and non-programmatic inventory is a must. The sheer value that one can unlock owing to an exclusive hold over a source of inventory, that is not available on any of the aggregated platforms, is truly amazing. I, for one, am a big fan!

Such exclusivity or preferred buying is possible, only if one shares a great rapport with the original inventory source; this is where the human element comes to play. It is no surprise, that some of the biggest performance drivers have succeeded, owing to having access to such exclusive sources of inventory and that big programmatic platforms, such as – ADX, Rubicon and Pubmatic, have come-up with their own versions of PMP (Private Market Place), to support such conversations between buyers and sellers. These companies know that there still is a strong underlying value that can be unlocked, when you put a buyer and a seller in front of each other.

Coming-up with a prefect media-mix strategy, involving programmatic and non- programmatic sources, is every marketer’s/performance marketing partner’s dream. If you get the combination right, you will not just be able to deliver great RoI and volumes to the advertiser, but enhance your media margins as well. Also, with such a strategy, one is not overtly dependent on a particular source of inventory and this brings in great leverage while one deals with a wide diversity forces that impact businesses and the changing requirements that come in from a wide diaspora of clients spread across the globe.

But there is no set recipe for this mix; everyone needs to figure out their own perfect mix of things. It’s perhaps is more like baking a “cookie” and every mother/grandmother has her own recipe that has been perfected over time. Noteworthy is the fact that, the core ingredients don’t change.

Since we are talking of ‘cookies’, let me sign off taking a cue from one of my favorite movies – Bruce Almighty – A perfect media strategy is like baking that perfect cookie; just the dough and butter won’t do, neither will an increased proportion of yeast or raisins or eggs or choc-chips. You throw in the right proportion of everything and then bind it with love and you have your perfect cookie; it will take time in getting it right, but, there is great satisfaction when you do get it right.

“And, that’s the way the cookie crumbles.”

Originally posted on Digital Market Asia.

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