Does the term programmatic marketing leave you scratching your head as you think "What is that again?" You are not the only one. Many marketers seem to be in the dark with regards to Programmatic Marketing, which led us to gather a group of experts and ask them not only what it is, but also, should we be doing it?

The Question

"What is programmatic marketing and why should marketers use it?"

The Responses

Mukund Ramachandran - DataXU

 Mukund oversees the Brand platform at DataXu, leading the company's efforts in aligning advertising solutions and developing go-to market strategies to address the fast-growing online brand advertising area. DataXu uses a data driven approach to delivering advertising solutions and measuring the impact of cross-channel media including display, social, mobile & video in delivering brand marketing objectives. Prior to DataXu, Mukund was Sr. Director, Product Marketing at Tremor Video where he lead the company's product marketing, vertical go-to market, and sales enablement efforts. Mukund cut his teeth in digital media at Yahoo!, where he was a Director of Product Marketing at the Yahoo! Media Group, responsible for delivering high-impact advertising programs for the top 200 brands using consumer promotions & integrated media. Mr. Ramachandran holds an MBA from the Thunderbird School of International Management, and a Master's in Management Studies from BITS, Pilani, India.

Programmatic Marketing is the marketing practice which rewires marketing via the application of anonymized consumer data and marketer specific business rules (via algorithms) to make a marketing campaign smarter & more effective. The implementation of programmatic marketing is transformative as it has changed marketing which was stuck in a channel centric or an audience-segment centric view towards a more robust and personal consumer-centric view.

The application of programmatic marketing provides marketers the ability to measure and tailor each and every ad interaction to consumers at the impression level based on the information available about the consumer and campaign’s desired goals. Programmatic marketing also enables marketers to learn what works and what doesn’t in real-time, allowing them to refine the campaign as necessary to deliver increasingly better results.

It’s a hot buzzword right now and marketers everywhere are paying attention to programmatic marketing because of its potential to dramatically improve return on investment. In particular, marketers are focused on three key benefits:


  • Elimination of wasteful media spend
  • Automation of manual work


  • Personalize the creative message
  • Identify and focus on highest value segments

Consumer Insights

  • Detailed behavioral data in real-time

As programmatic marketing continues to grow in popularity, providers must continue to evolve to keep up with the changing space.

Ben Plomion - Chango

Ben is VP of Marketing at Chango, where he heads up marketing and is also responsible for expanding the company’s data and media partnerships. Prior to joining Chango, Ben worked with GE Capital for four years to establish and lead the digital media practice. This led to the development of GE Capital’s digital value proposition and its execution worldwide. The new venture re-energized paid, owned and earned media across 70+ web sites. Ben graduated from GE’s Experienced Commercial Leadership program after completing his MBA at McGill University. Before GE, Ben held a variety of Marketing & Business Development roles in the e-payments industry, while working at Gemalto in London. Ben writes frequently for Digiday, and Search Engine Watch.

In a digital marketing context, programmatic marketing campaigns are automatically triggered by any type of event (say a keyword search or past browsing history) and deployed (in many forms such as display, email, FBX ad units and video) according to a set of rules applied by software and algorithms. Common forms of programmatic marketing are: programmatic buying via RTB and ad exchanges, site retargeting, search retargeting, shopping cart abandonment email retargeting, dynamic creative optimization and product recommendation but there are many more forms on the way, such as video and mobile.

Programmatic Marketing can sometimes be perceived as complex and a highly technical marketing activity, and in all honesty that's accurate. What most marketers don't know, however, is that the technology is incredibly advanced today and will take care of most of the complex, technical stuff for you. If that still isn't enough to solve your marketing needs, there are vendors out there, like Chango, who take a people-centric, friendly approach by walking you through an entire campaign.

We like to say that programatic marketing is the best of technology, people and data. Marketers are overwhelmed by the complexity of “digital marketing”, and concerned by the fast pace of change.

To answer the simple question of "why should marketers use it," programmatic marketing is the most effective way to prospect for new customers and then convert them with relevant messaging. Programmatic marketing allows you to find new in market customers and serve ads to only most relevant and "likely to buy" consumers, the ability to adjust your bid price on these ads saves you wasted time, impressions and most importantly, money.

Mathieu Hannouz - Adobe

Mathieu Hannouz acts as one of the trusted advisors for driving the launch of Adobe Campaign’s key product features across all geographies and including identifying target markets and opportunities, the creation and development of messaging, positioning, and launch materials.

We hear programmatic marketing is the new thing. We've been told that it lies at the intersection of data and technology, where data is leveraged across channels and platforms to optimize a digital experience via dynamic decisioning. Although it is yet another new buzzword on the market, programmatic marketing -- which many view as sending a triggered/event-based message to highlight important customer events such a browse abandonment, a birthday, or marking an milestone in a loyalty program -- describes an already well-established business challenge: how to make sure all customer touch points are connected and delivering a consistent and personalized customer experience that matches each individual’s unique situation.

To solve this problem, we must first understand it. Today, there’s a clear disconnect between what consumers and marketers perceive as the brand. While consumers only see one consistent brand, marketers see it as much more than that. Marketers view it as the following:

  • Four screens through TV, computer, tablet, and mobile device
  • Six channels through Web, social, email, search, display, and apps
  • Three sources of trust through paid, earned, and owned

So in fact, no two customer’s journeys are the same and this fragmented marketer way of looking at things, unless data is collected, shared and used, can’t solve the consistent customer experience challenge.

With access to data nearly everywhere, consumers have become more engaged and empowered than ever before. Therefore, outbound marketing campaigns are obviously not enough for any brand or organization that wishes to engage with consumers. This is what we call marketing in a digital word. The top three most critical steps to go through for any brand to implement a programmatic marketing strategy are:

  1. Collect, understand, share and act upon data
  2. Orchestrate and execute a cross-channel multi-step customer experience with offer decisioning  -- again one that is unique to each consumer
  3. Implement customer event-based marketing strategies with real-time/dynamic offer decisioning

I would also extend this story to offline media/touchpoints. Even though marketers are heavily investing in digital marketing, consumers are still engaging with brands through offline channels and marketers should merge their online strategy with offline.

David Karel - Bizo

David Karel leads Bizo’s marketing efforts where he has grown Marketing’s contribution to new business from zero to almost 50% in key market segments since joining the company 3.5 years ago. David has almost 20 years of B2B marketing, business development and sales experience. Prior to Bizo, David served as VP of Product Marketing at SuccessFactors, and held positions at Instill, Siebel Systems, Thomson Japan and MBAVision which he founded. Originally a New Yorker, David and his family have been in the Bay area for 15 years.

When marketers hear the word “programmatic,” they tend to immediately think of programmatic buying or real-time bidding. RTB is usually associated with the automated, machine-to-machine buying of online display advertising. Marketers bid to reach targeted audiences, and when they win the bid in auctions decided in microseconds, their banner ad is served to a specific (but anonymous) person who fits the pre-specified demographics.

But programmatic marketing is more than programmatic ad buying. Programmatic marketing is the ability to systematically execute highly targeted and relevant messages to prospective buyers across channels, including display advertising, email, and retargeting.

With the increasing use of marketing automation, many companies are using programmatic marketing to automate their email programs, often referred to as trigger-based email marketing. For instance, marketers can trigger welcome emails to go to new customers, or systematically nurture prospects by automatically sending them emails pointing them to specific whitepaper or other content offerings based on what stage of the buying process they might be in. Website retargeting is another form of programmatic marketing. Using website retargeting, marketers can serve, for instance, online display ads to prospects who visited specific areas of a corporate website but did not convert the first time around, essentially providing a second chance at a conversion.

The latest big step forward in programmatic marketing is the addition of display advertising to marketing automation. B2B marketers have relied on marketing automation platforms to help generate and nurture leads until they’re ready to buy. After leads are captured, email marketing is used to drive these prospects toward an eventual purchase. But this approach is inherently constrained, as the majority of a company’s website visitors remain “anonymous” (i.e. not associated with an email address) to the marketing automation system, and for those who do have known email addresses, getting them to open the message can be a significant challenge.

Combining marketing automation with display and social ad retargeting promises to change the world of nurturing forever. Why? Using display advertising in conjunction with marketing automation ushers in a new era of nurturing: marketers can use website retargeting to convert more anonymous prospects, and by synchronizing display and social advertising with email nurture programs, engage known prospects far more often than possible with email alone.

What all of these programmatic marketing efforts have in common is that they are “always on” – they are automated and run 24/7. For many sophisticated marketers, always on programmatic marketing represents the next frontier of how they communicate with their prospective buyers and eventually turn them into new customers.