It’s Programmatic, Not Program Magic, Advertising

Something Eugene Lee, Executive Vice President, Managing Director at CMI, said earlier this month stuck in my head. CMI’s Eugene, SLACK Incorporated’s own Zach Gursky, and Moderator Scott Roulet, from B2B Media Exchange, were speaking about programmatic advertising to a packed house at this year’s Association of Medical Media Educational Session on September 13th.

It was a great discussion and the audience hung on every word. Including when Eugene said something along these lines:

“Our clients want to know that the money they spend on advertising moves their targets to action. With programmatic advertising we know exactly who a doctor is, exactly which ad they saw, and exactly what action resulted.”

Now, Eugene is a whip-smart guy who can teach me a thing or two about reach, frequency, and then some. I know he didn’t mean to imply that advertisers expect to buy one-and-only, and only that one-and-only, single ad impression that moves an individual, high-value target to meaningful, measurable action.

But in the frenzied and fast-paced evolution of digital media the danger isn’t what Eugene said, but what his audience heard. And I’m afraid that some heard, and believe, that a one-to-one, ad-to-action buy is the Holy Grail.

Gartner’s Martin Kihn is insightful on the subject (

“To assume that a few 300×250 pixel ads—no matter how well-targeted and -timed—could cause someone to change…is to mistake paranoia for the world. Advertising doesn’t work that way,” Kihn said.

He’s right, of course, and so is Eugene. We all want successful, measurable campaigns that move the needle. The folks paying for our ads are demanding it.

But in the rush to demonstrate digital advertising ROI let’s remember that advertising is, to update John E. Kelly, “Salesmanship in pixels.” Advertising works when qualified prospects are immersed through repeated exposure to a message that resonates and connects them with a brand.

That’s true whether the target is one million or one-in-a-million

  • John C. Carter

    John C. Carter is Chief Operating Officer, The Wyanoke Group, and member, AMM Board of Directors. The Wyanoke Group includes and SLACK Incorporated. By leveraging strong brands like Hem/Onc Today and Infectious Disease News, SLACK engages users with innovative digital and print custom solutions.


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