Staines has nearly 20 years of experience in digital advertising. He’s fallen in love with the industry by witnessing the growth of its “sharing economy”.
“At the end of the day, innovation is led by humans. The day humans become less important in the process is the day I leave the industry.”
PA.O: What in the programmatic space is best left to humans versus delegated to a machine?
Rupert Staines: Automation exists solely for the purpose of executing the simple or more repetitive actions needed to use programmatic effectively. You need emotion in order to ensure that there is a logic applied to the world of media and marketing messaging. You are trying to match human behavior, and that requires a lot of human touch. I would argue that today a huge number of marketers are highly skilled in understanding data.
PA.O: Would you say that humans are necessary for learning how to quantify behaviors?
Rupert Staines: The human role is to understand human behavior in a way that can be translated into technical metrics for programs and machines to understand. I don’t see how you are going to be able to bring the quantitative piece to our marketing ecosystem simply by machine.
You have to teach the machine how to not think like a robot, but like a human, and that requires a whole lot.
Marketers need to focus on how elements from the human world can be recreated in a piece of data and vice versa.
The day machines fully understand human behavior is when marketing turns upside down. I hope it never happens in the industry.
The most important part of understanding marketing is understanding human behavior. Humans are best at understanding human behavior, not machines.
It’s clear that technology can be very clever, but keep in mind that humans built it.
PA.O: Often agencies and advertisers operate under the assumption that programmatic does not require attentive, hands-on guidance from humans. Do you believe programmatic is broken since it lacks human management?
Rupert Staines: No, I don’t think programmatic is broken. People just say programmatic is broken when they are misguided — believing that they can just flip a switch and easily operate these systems themselves.
Programmatic is not simple. That’s why it requires the human resource.
However, you can use it simply if all you want to do is throw a pixel on your website. But this is a very short-term solution. It is not going to drive campaigns anywhere near the expectations that clients have.
A purist self-serve system today does not exist and frankly, cannot exist because of the human element that we just discussed. We know of clients that will knock down a door to get to the technology. Behind the scenes, they quickly recognize they need a huge amount of human resources to use the technology intelligently.
We are moving to a hybrid model as an industry where programmatic and technology become smarter, enabling the human component of managing programmatic to become even more intelligent.
The technology doesn’t make programmatic smart, but the human decision-making — understanding the data that you have and what you need in order to fuel your particular goals — does.
PA.O: What is on the horizon for programmatic and sports on mobile devices?
Rupert Staines: The power of mobile is location – the ability to understand where human beings are, what they are doing and what state of emotion they are in at this point of time. What comes next is the ability to then apply intelligence to messaging and greet users in a way that is appropriate for them.
Imagine standing in the shopping area where these beautiful Rolex watches are on display and getting a voucher sent to your phone. That’s where it starts to get cool – the mission impossible moment.
Sports lends itself extremely well to real-time messaging. The stadium holds a captive audience. At home, serious fans are in front of the TV set. There are so many great moments to capture, infuse and excite users with well-targeted creative.
At the end of the day, innovation is led by humans. The day humans become less important in the process is the day I would have left the industry.