Programmatic Needs A Human Touch

Merris_260To the uninformed masses, programmatic advertising is nothing but a cold world of automated machines and algorithms, leaving little room for human involvement. In reality, a successful programmatic advertising campaign is anything but robotic.

A large community of marketers, agencies, data management platforms and the like use their skill and insight to make the programmatic “machine” function. Programmatic is merely a tool for delivering advertisements efficiently to targeted audiences. The process relies heavily on manual configuration to succeed.

This is not to say that technology does not play an important role. Good data, sophisticated algorithms, and the right exchange partners are essential to running a successful campaign. However, the programmatic tool is only as powerful as the human thought that wields it.

This is a good thing. Could anything be more trustworthy for understanding, strategizing, initiating and managing a relationship with people than actual people? Whether B2B or B2C, consumers purchase via connection, gravitating towards the brands that walk, talk and act like them.

Yet companies are still trying to sell programmatic based on how it works rather than why it works.

Advertisers need to abandon the idea that intricate details and technology functionality are the most important components to programmatic buying. Programmatic campaigns only work when they have honest, skilled and intuitive human oversight. These are non-negotiable factors for driving success.  Here are a few factors that only come from a human touch.


As of late, agency-trading desks have come under scrutiny for their lack of transparency, causing many marketers to take programmatic buying in-house. The programmatic advertising industry tries to hide sales inflation with viewability and click fraud. Honesty is essential for a successful campaign.

Programmatic companies need to stop leaving clients in the dark and articulate that reality of these issues openly and plainly. It’s imperative to both educate and offer safeguards to protect ad deliveries. There will always be hiccups with new technology. Skilled oversight helps clients weather the storm.


A good programmatic campaign works when agencies divert, or as called for, guide clients through the proverbial eye of the hurricane, offering support every step of the way. Programmatic relies on agency skill, wisdom and knowledge to maneuver through any issues. These experts pull and release the necessary levers in the programmatic machine to make the most of a client’s campaign.

Let’s liken programmatic to investment management. What good would any mutual fund be without the insight of a fund manager? Why treat the time, money and resources involved in programmatic any differently?


The intuitive oversight we’ve walked through above highlights the importance of offering comprehensive service and bringing clients directly to market. Even though programmatic companies are the knowledge experts in the advertising industry, alarmingly, few offer end-to-end service to their clients.

Programmatic management companies should leverage their expertise to help plan campaigns through a variety of functions from identifying data sets to completing competitor and website analysis. Providing either full creative service or creative consulting, such as indicating best practices for X, Y, and Z types of campaigns, can have a big impact on client success.

Programmatic will remain a cold, mechanical product in the eyes of marketers as long as the industry continues to sell it as a technology rather than a campaign

John Merris is Vice President, Programmatic, for MultiView, a targeted B2B digital marketing company. He holds an MBA from the University of Texas, Austin and a BA from Brigham Young University.