I spent some time on Wednesday talking with John Ramey over a couple of the delicious finger sandwiches we were serving after our latest AppNexus Summit. During that conversation, he and I agreed that we hated the term “Programmatic Premium” to describe the process of using technology to enable media buyers to buy, in an efficient way, specific packages of media from specific sellers that guarantee delivery.
He and I are not exactly spectators in this arena, so I think this convergence is worth noting.
Unfortunately, the label “Programmatic Premium” is gaining traction as the broader online ad industry’s attention turns to the simply huge opportunity presented by [whatever we call it]. I think it’s important we get the terminology right before we’re stuck with the current kludge by default.
Here’s the problem: nobody agrees on what half of this unfortunate handle – “premium” – even means.
A recent Digiday article is typical of the debate. Group of informed grown-ups, simple word, complete lack of convergence on definition. If we can’t agree on what this term means, we’re not going to make the progress we need to in this area. As I mentioned in a post a few years back, I think a big part of the problem is that folks are conflating the “quality” dimension and the “reservation” dimension. These dimensions are correlated, but distinct. The very fact that we are still having this confusion/discussion 3 years later pretty much proves that this term is a problem.
I believe when folks talk today about “Programmatic Premium”, they are essentially talking about automating the planning and guaranteed allocation process that today most often occurs through a direct sales interaction (reservation dimension). Indeed, this process often deals in higher quality inventory at higher prices (quality dimension), but that is secondary and using the “premium” term invites unnecessary confusion precisely because of its subjectivity.
This is too important to keep getting confused about. 85% of the money in the display ad ecosystem is still transacted, inefficiently, “the old fashioned way”. If we use a different term, we can avoid muddying the the water by grafting the irrelevant “what is ‘premium’?” debate onto a critical, urgent conversation about how technology can be used to streamline the process between buy side and sell side for media that cannot, should not or simply will not be traded via RTB.
Can we please all just say “Programmatic Reserve” instead? “Reserve” focuses on the notion of a delivery guarantee or reservation, while retaining the positive associations with quality and supply-side control (think “reserve wine”). And it gets us away from the all-too-squishy “premium”. At least give me “Programmatic Guaranteed”.
Anyone care to second?