PIE (Programmatic is Everything) Theory in the 20’s

Cherry Pie

Writing exclusively for ExchangeWire in response to Ciaran O’Kane’s twenty predictions for 2020, Robert Webster (pictured below), founder of Canton Marketing Solutions, delves further into the Programmatic is Everything (PIE) theory, which is poised to dominate marketing over the coming decade.

My favourite of Ciaran’s 2020 predictions was the statement that programmatic is everything. This is partly because I think it was over a pint with him that the phrase finally took hold. Not that I am trying to claim ownership, it’s been a concept the industry has been talking about with various names for some time, I had tried and (and largely failed) to label it omnichannel programmatic. PIE theory or PIE marketing is catchier.

Programmatic for too long has been tied to real-time bidding based display. The universe that accounts for only around 20% of digital marketing spend (depending on how you define it). This is a mistake because programmatic technology, techniques and skills already are prevalent across 90% plus of digital marketing and are poised to conquer the entirety of marketing in the coming years.

Rob Webster

Robert Webster, founder, Canton Marketing Solutions

Consider that paid search and paid social, often not counted as programmatic channels, all have the same concepts of (programming) setting spend caps, algorithms for optimisation, targeting criteria, and creative selection. To me, it has always seemed crazy how long it has taken for paid search, paid social, and RTB display skills, to merge. Some are already ahead of the game on this but it is amazing how few practitioners could, on the one hand, discuss the finer points of search match type strategy, alongside a sensible optimisation setup for display (or Facebook). The future belongs to these people.

That’s not to say there is no need for channel specialists to raise the ceiling from time to time, just that there will be more call for the all-round programmatic practitioner because programmatic is everything and we must move away from channel silos. For myself, I was lucky enough to spend half of my formative years in digital marketing in display and the other half in search, and was then in position for the launch of paid social (as well as dabbling in affiliate and email). Such an upbringing will be the new normal in the 20’s.

One of the tasks I set myself in 2019, and will continue in 2020, is to learn the emerging channels of digital out-of-home (DOOH) and connected TV (CTV). I am lucky to have friends with years of experience in out-of-home and TV to leverage. Its at times like these that a great contact network truly is a super power. What an opportunity this gives the programmatic marketer. Many have honed their skills on poor sites that go largely unseen. The programmatic marketer in the 20’s will instead have access to TV and online video audiences, prominent digital out-of-home spots, radio, a new breed of in-app and web spots, and emerging channels like voice and VR/AR. Such responsibility will not only empower the next generation of programmatic buyer, but also planning and strategy. For the 20’s this will be human-led but with machine learning and, yes, AI tools to assist.

As programmatic comes of age it can now look forward to its most exciting time. Here’s to the next roaring 20’s, where programmatic is everything.