Don Draper, meet big data

Don Draper, meet big data

If you’re anything like me, when you first heard the term “programmatic advertising,” you couldn’t decide if it had something to do with the TV Guide on grandma’s coffee table, those rotating billboards that annoy you while you’re stuck in traffic or robots sitting behind computers on some distant island compound programming futuristic pop-ups.

Thankfully, programmatic advertising isn’t any of the weird things I thought it might be. Programmatic advertising is the intersection of data and creativity, and it’s quickly become a prominent tool in everyone’s hip-to-the-groove tool belt for a good reason: It’s the advertising equivalent of marrying Don Draper and the only thing Harry Crane ever loved more than himself – Sterling Cooper’s computer.

Remember all the conversations at the SC&P office about ad placement? Would ratings go up during this episode? Would this magazine issue sell well? That same idea has been our best bet at reaching the right group throughout all of advertising’s evolutions: Create a commercial with your audience in mind, and air it during the hour you think they’ll be watching TV. Purchase a full-page ad in GQ to draw attention to your limited batch tonic, buy out all the ad space on the Knot’s website for your doggy ring bearer outfits (so cute!) and get your company’s Don Draper to knock the ads out of the park.

At some point everyone accepted that your ad, your space and your money would be wasted on some viewers. Sometimes a teetotaler buys an issue of GQ; what can you do? And that’s when Harry Crane’s computer bursts onto the scene and beep-boops his way into our hearts because he’s got a solution, and we’ve got the Internet.

Take all of that data that the Hansels and Gretels of the Internet are dropping like breadcrumbs, and turn it into money. Use your audience’s online behavior to gauge their interest and follow them where they’re already headed. It’s beautiful, really — we’ve always known that each individual is complex and unique, and you can’t fit all Belle Jolie buyers into one lipstick tube.

So let all of those individuals be individual, and once you find them, introduce yourself. You’re the answer to the question they didn’t even realize they needed to ask, and I think Don Draper would like that because programmatic advertising takes the best parts of advertisers — creativity, insight and moxie — and equips them with the modern-day treasure trove of data that online behavior provides.



callie wCallie Wheeler is a storyteller who loves using more than just words to get an idea across. In addition to working in the world of programmatic advertising, she owns Cake Events and is a freelance writer. She loves baking, watching TV and Flannery O’Connor, and on the weekends you can usually find her outside or cooking food with friends. You can also follow Callie on Twitter.

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