There is a lot of information waiting to get “chewed up” and swallowed in the programmatic space.
Mark Glauberson, a thought leader in the industry who works as the vice president of media for Direct Agents in New York City, took a moment recently to weigh in on his opinions on programmatic, consumer culture and the future of advertising.
Mark Glauberson: I really like the content you guys have on the site.
PA.O: Thanks so much! We are really working hard to develop this as a great resource.
There is a lot of noise in this space. There are a lot of people weighing in with a lot of information that is waiting to be chewed up and digested properly. This information is being swallowed whole and unfortunately, people don’t know how to process it.
We want to create a place where people can just come together and learn. We are not a brand affinity; we are not trying to sell you anything.
We want to create an environment where people can become educated and listen to thought leaders who weigh in with their opinions.
Mark Glauberson: I think that’s a great thing. I definitely agree that there is noise. It just seems like programmatic in general is just growing so fast and is just so big that you have a lot of people jumping in. A lot of noise is the best way to put it. I’m happy to be contributing and on the other side of things too, benefiting from what you are putting out there.
PA.O: Can you tell us a bit more about yourself?
Mark Glauberson: I am the vice presdient of media for Direct Agents, which is a performance marketing and customer acquisition agency. We are in New York City and have about 50 employees at this point. We are a little bit unique in the programmatic space in the sense that we are focused on customer and acquisition and performance. We are running campaigns where we are looking to grow our clients’ businesses, and they are looking to use us to drive results and ROI. In my day to day, I wear a lot of hats. I manage all of our non-biddable media and programmatic – so essentially everything except search.
Our primary services are lead generation, email marketing, SEM, SEO and programmatic, of course.
My involvement includes focusing on strategy, the direction the team should be taken, strategic relationships, etc., outside of more of the financial stuff like P&L management.
PA.O: So, what do you do for fun?
Mark Glauberson: In the summertime, it’s tennis; in the winter, it’s skiing. I’m really nutty about skiing.
PA.O: Talk to me about your programmatic perspective. I’m really interested in knowing more about the growth of marketing automation, data mining, and programmatic. From your angle, how is programmatic advertising completely changing the world of advertising?
Mark Glauberson: We are seeing a big shift towards marketing personalization and consumer brand experiences. I think through automation and the use of data we are able to be a lot more targeted, and marketers can custom tailor the interaction for each individual.
With graphics, content and browsing behavior on our clients’ sites we are essentially putting together custom experiences from the creative, the messaging itself, all the way down to the experience. [This involves] what portions of the website we drive them to and the content we expose them to. I think personalization is the big thing.
PA.O: So, let’s talk about disruption in the space, not only with advertising, but specifically with digital advertising. Programmatic has come in on the scene with real-time bidding and ad buying. Talk about that disruption for a minute and how it plays into your business.
Mark Glauberson: I often wonder if the way that we think about brand consistency in marketing will change. In school we are taught that brands need to have a consistent presence across the board. It is possible that there is going to be a shift there.
Again, going back to individual customization.
Let’s say 10-15 years from now – is your experience with Nike going to be completely different from mine? At the top level we have this consistency, but on an individual level, it is like we are dealing with two completely different brands.
I think also our purchasing habits are changing, but this is nothing new. Not too long ago (we are talking about maybe the last 15-20 years) I might have been jumping in my car and going from store to store to find some rare product that I needed. Now, that thought wouldn’t even cross my mind. My first thought is “check Amazon.”
PA.O: Our age group is a bit more like let’s manage the time here with technology and knock this task out. Talk about growth areas!
We just talked about all of these advancement in just one generation. What are other growth areas for advertising – in your children’s generation? What are they going to be laughing at you about?
Mark Glauberson: That’s an interesting way to phrase it.
The two growth areas I am seeing right now are in programmatic TV. [Programmatic] will not only give the large brands a way to buy TV smarter, but opens the door for companies with smaller TV budgets to get into the mix. I think that’s going to make a big impact.
If we go into more customized content, I think ad production will follow, just like digital. Again, if we are going back to the personalization of everything, I am getting a different commercial than you are. Tailored messaging will become the norm. Now, are there small, miniscule changes that are happening from person to person? If so, now how do we automate that?
Of course, with content development we are [already] seeing consumers demanding more or expecting more content from brands. Content development will see significant growth. Consumers are expecting brands to provide entertaining and useful content. You want a brand to make you laugh. A brand to add to your day. Brands don’t just want [consumers] to like their product, but to like the content they are putting out there.
PA.O: Being in the programmatic space, you are going to be a bit more tuned into well-placed ad campaigns and those that catch your attention. What do you like out there? What bothers you, and why do they catch your attention?
Mark Glauberson: Sure. So, I’ll start on a negative note, I guess.
What I am seeing in the programmatic space is a lot of overcomplicating, which is understandable from the options that we have available from a targeting perspective to all of the toys that we have access to. We often forget what the real mission is – which is to help clients grow with acquisitions and retention. The campaigns that Direct Agents runs are focused on acquisition, and we often find that simple and straightforward is most effective. All of these tools we have right now, targeting creative and data, are more robust than ever, and I think we need them to work in order to achieve the results for our clients.
In terms of some of the good things that I am seeing, I can talk about an interesting campaign we are doing for a large nonprofit.
[Our] objective is to drive charitable donations for this company. Our effective-cost-per-acquisition for clients is about 20 percent of their acceptable rates. We are 80 percent below goal – which speaks volumes for an acquisition within programmatic and then, obviously, for our team. We are doing this through – again – data analytics and taking a simple approach. We aren’t overcomplicating it. Our approach to data is turning our data into smart data. We’re able to achieve this by optimizing at every stage of the conversion funnel. Creative plays a big role as well since we’re doing a lot of audience and message segmentation.
Collecting tons of data is one thing, but what is relevant? What is actionable? That has been the big issue for marketers that we are trying to solve, and we’re seeing great results so far.
PA.O: Turning big data into smart data. I like that a lot.
What individuals and companies do you see or do you find out there that impress you? Who is really on the bleeding edge of this development that you admire?
Mark Glauberson: You may not like my answer too much here, as it’s a little general (Musk, Bezos, Page, Brin).
I think innovation is going to continue to come from garage-based companies like unknowns coming up with great ideas. There are a lot of companies within our space. There are a lot of people trying to catch in on the programmatic thing, and I think it is important to be wary of them. What I am seeing is a lot of taking the things that are already out there and dressing them up differently.
PA.O: I want to talk about wearables. With everything from Google Glass to the Fitbit, Nike Fuel Band, the iWatch and then the clothes that display your mood, how does this technology with wearables play into the programmatic space? Do you have any favorites that you are looking out for, and do you think that its role in programmatic is good or bad?
Mark Glauberson: Let me answer your question in parts then. I haven’t seen anything in wearable technology that I have gotten into yet. Anything wearable is competing with fashion and self-image, and I haven’t come across anything disruptive enough to take that on. I have seen a lot of different things, but I haven’t seen anything [interesting] yet. Glasses are going to compete with sunglasses. It’s a tough hill to climb, and I am not just on it yet. I just don’t think we have solved that problem.
As far as programmatic goes, wearable technology means that you are always connected. It means that you are potentially always available for an ad to be served or something along those lines. I think that there is a lot of room for programmatic in wearables. We just have to figure out what people are going to be willing to wear. Again, it is going to [have to] be fashionable and interchangeable. I think Apple has made a good attempt with the iWatch, where they have the interchangeable band. They have a couple of interesting phases for the watch. Good attempt, but you are probably not going to buy three or four of those things to match your outfits.
PA.O: So, this prompts my next question. We have all of this GPS tech combined with targeting, and it reminds me of this movie that I’ve seen that I love: “Minority Report.” It stars Tom Cruise. Have you seen it?
Mark Glauberson: Yeah I have. I saw it in the theaters, and I think I recall the scene when he is walking through the mall and ads get pulled up all of the time.
PA.O: Yeah, and then he has to change his eyeballs because he needs an iris transplant so he can stay off of the radar. It’s crazy to me because it makes me think, at what point in time does it just get too invasive? I find conversations like this amusing.
Mark Glauberson: It’s very interesting, so I am kind of with you on that.
I don’t know what the future holds, but research is showing that consumers actually prefer relevant marketing. Brands that kind of fall short of that are ones where maybe they are presenting a relevant product [at the wrong time.] My personal pet peeve is when I bought something online yesterday, and I am getting an ad for it today. Those kinds of things today create negative perception for the brand.
Consumers expect a certain level of sophistication from brands and are turned off by ads that don’t apply to them. Brands that fall behind are being (or will be) perceived negatively. Our team is constantly thinking about how to minimize that.
PA.O: So, let’s fast forward and have a look into the future. What are you excited about? What areas are in need of continual innovation and improvement? What excites you about the next 20 years of advertising?
Mark Glauberson: Right now, I’m excited about the idea of programmatic everything – tracking and attribution across all marketing channels with a unifying user id.
In terms of improvement with programmatic specifically, no surprise, the industry overall has to get serious about fraud.
It seems that there is a slow kind of shift toward [seriousness], whether it is fraud or viewability. At Direct Agents, we’ve actually gotten a really good handle on it, but there are still a lot of big players that, frankly speaking, make a lot of money on those fraudulent impressions. I think that it hurts the industry overall. As direct agents, we have been able to neutralize the issue and create maximum effectiveness, but it is still hurting the legitimacy of the programmatic space in general.
Every time you see it mentioned in mainstream media, programmatic always has this downside of fraud. Fifty percent of the impressions are not being viewed. We need to get serious about that.
As far as what I am looking forward to, that is a really hard question to answer due to how much progress we are making. Everything that comes to mind will probably be accomplished within 5 to 10 years at the current rate of innovation. Twenty years from now it is hard to even venture a guess. I think a general answer is that personalization is going to be a big thing, alongside content. One thing is clear – automation will continue to spread into our everyday lives. For something a bit more shorter term, I can envision destination-based ads in self-driving cars.
The “Minority Report” experience that we are talking about – I don’t think it is that unrealistic 20 to 30 years from now. Maybe [we won’t have] that exact experience, but something like it. That’s where I see it going.
PA.O: Every generation has its game changers – those people like the Steve Jobs of the world. What would you like to tell our next generation of innovators?
Mark Glauberson: Take chances. Some things will work and some will fail. The key is to learn from them and grow. The fear of failure is the most common theme I see among people who don’t reach their potential.