It seems that everyone wants a piece of the programmatic pie, and it’s not just the big name tech and publishing giants that see the value of automated ad buying and placement. Hulu has made it known that it intends to start utilizing programmatic video technology and iHeartRadio is bringing programmatic to broadcast radio to increase ad revenue. It seems like the technology is spreading to every content form and channel. You can even see the programmatic philosophy in the way that Netflix comes up with some of its programming. They saw what their specific viewers wanted and built the show House of Cards to meet that demand.
So who will be the next big name to try to push the industry standard by bringing in programmatic? Well, we might not know yet, but pondering the “what-ifs” can be interesting and entertaining as well:
NASCAR: The joke that professional racing cars are basically fast-moving billboards has been around almost since the sport itself was invented. Sponsorships bring in big money for racing that few would pass up, and the huge audience the sport attracts provides amazing opportunities for brand awareness. The 2015 Sprint Cup season opener netted in 5.6 million viewers. Imagine if, instead of painted logos, race cars were draped in green screens that allowed for ads to be displayed based on audience segments, providing a more personalized race watching experience. Additionally, this could help create bidding wars if a driver heats up at any point in the season, generating more ad dollars and driving up the driver’s demand. It could also make it easier to for sponsors to pull their deals if a driver or team member lands in the PR doghouse, which is much more difficult to do when you have annual lock-ins.
Political Ads: Let’s face it, the 2016 election season has already started, and what better way to get swept up in the political process than enjoying ads that actually speak to your specific concerns? Imagine only seeing political propaganda that addresses the issues you care about, or provides information about candidates you are most likely to vote for, instead of getting bombarded with irrelevant ads for candidates that you literally can’t vote for. Candidates are already using programmatic technology to gather intent data on potential voters, adding the level of personalization that possible now with programmatic advertising would probably make campaign seasons much more pleasant. Well, maybe it wouldn’t make campaign seasons more pleasant, but it could at least help make the ads a little less ridiculous, since they wouldn’t be casting such an incredibly wide net. Perhaps then voters won’t fatigue by the end of election season and would be more likely to be continuously enthusiastic about voting. Those ads can wear people down!
Modern Art: Art is extremely interpretive and many argue that the beauty and value doesn’t come from what is actually in front of you, but the reaction it has elicits in the person experiencing it. Imagine, then, if artists used programmatic algorithms that gathered search and social data to put together a piece of personalized art that was specifically designed to evoke a reaction from you, the viewer. Every single piece would be completely unique and could even tell a person things about themselves that they didn’t actively know. Have you been looking for certain types of diaper brand? Maybe you would respond to art featuring babies. Have you been posting to your local Occupy facebook page? Perhaps you would find beauty in a picture of Guy Fawkes getting hit with a comically oversized hammer by 17th century British Parliament. This kind of technology could also be great for companies like Artsy that recommend art to buy, or Lofty, which provides a similar service, but from the seller’s side.
Restaurants: Sometimes, a restaurant’s menu can be a bit overwhelming, especially at your more upper-crust places. There are all kinds of options and combinations and half of them are in a language you don’t speak. If you’re going to spend a considerable amount of money on a dish, you want to know that it’s something you will enjoy. Here, restaurants could use programmatic technology to create digitized menus in order to create customer profiles and highlight specific menu items that your eating and purchasing habits indicate you would be most likely to enjoy. They could even tweak it to similarly present a dish that you’ve never had before, recommending it on the basis that you could try something different. This could increase ordering efficiency, customer satisfaction, and positive Yelp reviews. Look no further than this season of Netflix’s original program A Chef’s Table to see chef Niki Nakayama doing exactly this – though manually – at her LA-restaurant n/naka. Each day she evaluates every diner’s profile based on the past menus they’ve consumed to come up with something truly special for everyone from an 8-year old child to a long time patron. While that shows her commitment to the value of personalization, imagine if that effort was scalable through programmatic technology and could be deployed by any chef.
These examples serve to illustrate the point that programmatic technology has a vast amount of potential to grow and whole new worlds that it could be applied to. In truth, the technology wasn’t even originally designed for advertising, but for analyzing large amounts of stored data, often scientific in nature. Even within the boundaries of the advertising and marketing industries, we are seeing programmatic being applied in fresh and innovative ways every month. The possibilities for the platform are growing, and it will be exciting to see where it goes next and what companies and individuals will take it in a completely new direction.