Programmatic Pioneering

Jun 6, 2023

Last month our COO Joanne Lacey attended the Programmatic Pioneers Summit in London. Here, she shares some of her takeaways on the key themes and opportunities in programmatic advertising ecosystem according to the analyst and brands at the show.


The ever-enigmatic Sir Martin Sorrell kicked off the event talking about how advertisers need to adapt their media strategies to respond to new user-behaviour patterns and tap into new channels such as CTV and mobile game tech developments.

After potentially offending half the audience by asking ‘would you trust a 25-year old media planner vs. an algorithm’ he encouraged the audience to embrace the ‘fundamental and foundational shift’ AI and indeed AGI will make on the programmatic ecosystem.

AI wasn’t just a future tech buzzword. Brands had real use cases.

Sorrell’s own S4 is encouraging teams to use chatbots to speed up ad copywriting and aggregate data making it easier to hyper-personalize and target ads. Meanwhile, Miguel Martin, Head of Digital, at Joe and The Juice reported a 30% uplift with an AI based campaign during A/B testing and argued that the loss of data signals, post-cookie, can be made up from AI.


Programmatic brand campaigns on the rise

The focus on emerging channels at the show (and not just CTV) heralded clear a shift away from programmatic being a DR-only channel. Nick Welch from IAS asked the speakers in his session: ‘should we be thinking more about full funnel activations and see programmatic as just a way of buying media?’

Answer: ‘it depends on the category’.

CPG is enjoying growth in brand campaigns and unlocking programmatic’s full funnel capabilities, for example how [brands] can use their own first party data to leverage emerging formats.

Hedwig Vollers, Senior Director of Global Media at Mars sees programmatic as ‘a logical brand tool with real-time data and proxy KPIs giving a lot of confidence of what’s working for both the media and creative which wasn’t available with traditional media’.

Contextual is back

At the show contextual targeting was very much seen an essential way to target in a post-cookie world, but also recognition, this is nothing new.

Luke Blackburn, Senior Digital & Total Connections Planning Manager for Walkers UK, PepsiCo talked about the need to understand the context of consumers, i.e. their their interests and levers, in order to leverage a contextual channel rather than target individuals.

Cornelia Villa, CMO at agreed, challenging that ‘due to less targeting precision and user insights, marketers need to be more active to understand interests and behaviours.’


Attention everybody!

There was a big thumbs up on the stage at least when it came to measuring attention. 

Transparency and viewability are seen as table stakes now, whereas quality metrics such as attention can help advertisers make more informed decisions, better investment and understand the efficacy of media buying.

Ulrich Gilot from Betsson Group shared the results of an in-game campaign focused on building brand loyalty. An attention study by Lumen Research on an in-game campaign for Betsafe generated higher levels of attention than standard desktop advertising formats (76% vs. 47%) and the immersive ads held attention for longer and increased engagement with 26% still viewing after 2 seconds.

And finally the big question, will Google Cookies go away?

Richard Kramer from Arete Research and programmatic economist Tom Triscari debated robustly, but the sense in the room is that the conversation as moved on.The official poll was Yes 76% and No 24%, but with AI, contextual and in-game who cares about cookies anyway?

Joanne Lacey



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