09/25/2013 10:04 am ET Updated Nov 25, 2013

Kick-Start Planning for Programmatic Buying

Age and Sex. For decades, these two criteria have been the core of Media Planning. A target-based approach to communications. "W25-64? M18-34? We have the right media plan for you." All good.

Until now.

The industry is shifting rapidly as audience buying strategies have emerged and grown. We now have the capability with programmatic buying to reach the exact audiences we want in the digital space. The right person with the right message at the right time and place -- all at scale.

Want to reach The Goldbergs? Sure, you could tune in Tuesdays at 9 p.m. Or you could use third and first party data to identify consumers online who like to wear 1980s-style sweaters AND have recently purchased video cameras. Booyah for Boolean logic!

According to eMarketer (Nov., 2012), real-time audience bidding will reach 28 percent of digital mix by 2016 and will continue to grow -- signaling a sea change in digital across multiple channels.

So what does this mean for planning? We need to get out ahead of this fast moving technology. We need to change upstream and incorporate so we can better prepare for what happens downstream at the trading desks.

A focus on audience vs. target should begin to be incorporated into comms planning. In a perfect world, which specific audiences would we want to reach? What story would we tell them? How should the story unfold? What channels across video, display, search, mobile and social do we want to impact? Dynamic creative lets us tell the story in the order that we think would be the most impactful with consumers.

So let's say you want to sell more widgets to widget owners. From insight work during Planning, you uncover that pregnant women are more inclined to purchase widgets. You could develop audience profiles around pregnant women in the category and conduct deep dives into their shopping and media habits. These insights could then be shared with the Buying team to inform their Programmatic Buying decisions with data providers - and reach your audience in a real-time bidding marketplace.

The benefit is reduced waste, given the laser focus on the audience you want.

To move forward, our planning and buying tools need to adapt and evolve as well. Programmatic Buying upfronts are starting to emerge in the digital space. The trend will eventually impact the broadcast buying model as well. Committing to over 75 percent of broadcast media upfront may seem quaint five to 10 years from now.

So fast forward ten years to 2023, the 20th Anniversary of Advertising Week. How much will Comms Planning have changed to address audiences instead of targets? What new tools will be using? Just how much will the balance of power shift to audiences themselves?

Let's plan ahead. Share this post with other audience members from Advertising Week.