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How Don Draper Would Pitch Native Programmatic

April 9, 2015 — by Michael Goldberg

This guest post is authored by Michael Goldberg, Director of Marketing at TripleLift. TripleLift is a MediaMath OPEN partner that enables advertiser to purchase native ads programmatically.

“It’s the end of an era,” to quote AMC touting the return of its critically acclaimed drama, Mad Men.  After an eight-year run, the series will come to an end, which begs the question; how would its charismatic protagonist, Don Draper, fare in today’s digital advertising landscape?  Chances are he’d need a lot more whiskey.

During its almost decade-long run, the show captured the advertising industry during a pivotal period of transformation, set in the tumultuous 1960s. It was an era marked by the dominance of the creative executive, embodied by its central character Don Draper; the merger and formation of multi-media corporations; the struggle for equality in the workplace for women and minorities; and the advent of innovative technologies, like the introduction of the IBM supercomputer that necessitated being housed in its own 500 square foot office and drove Mad Men, well, mad.

While the 60s represented a rapidly evolving advertising landscape, it’s nothing compared to the transformation we’re seeing in digital advertising today.  In just the past few years, our industry has experienced a massive sea change in the way advertising is bought and sold, most notably stemming from the introduction of programmatic media buying.  At its core, programmatic seems to strip away the sexiness and creativity that is so prevalent in Don Draper’s world.  No longer do elaborate creative ideas represent the foundation of an advertising campaign.  Today, it’s about efficiency – finding the most likely customer and not paying a penny more than they are worth in order to reach them. This may imply that creative takes a back seat. This is not the case, especially with the introduction of native programmatic, which offers marketers a grander creative canvas to deliver more compelling brand messages, all while leveraging data and insights to reach the right audience.

So, how would Don Draper sell a native programmatic campaign to a group of demanding brand marketers?

Don Draper is an emotional seller.  He seeks to connect with his audience on a personal level, often injecting his own intimate narrative into his sales pitch.

Draper uses his ability to create a bond with his customer to establish trust.  This allows him to seize the initiative and proactively tell the customer why his idea is the best idea.  In pitching a native programmatic campaign, Draper may relate his own experiences being bombarded with advertising messages that fail to resonate with him.  He might then describe the feeling their customer would get upon seeing a beautiful message that is not interruptive; instead it’s complementary to the consumer’s user experience.  It looks and feels like the surrounding content, but it’s delicately labeled an ad.  And it’s not trying to sell.  It’s trying to inform, help, inspire, guide.  It’s a message that blends into its surroundings so perfectly that it goes beyond being an ad; it becomes part of the story.

At this point in the meeting, with cigarette smoke filling the conference room, the brand marketers would express hesitation at being able to pull this off. They would wonder, do they have enough assets? How hard would it be to execute an advertising message that seamlessly matches hundreds of different websites? Draper would simply offer a sly smile, sit back in his chair and explain how effortless it is to execute – just 3 steps in a few minutes.

The beauty of native programmatic, he’d explain, is the ability to overlay existing 1st-party or DMP data with no additional legwork to reach the most receptive user.  This is where Draper would sell the clients on the benefits of being able to find their perfect customer, all while only paying to reach those they want and not wasting their budget on the wrong eyes.  He’d emphasize the cost-efficiencies involved and be sure to make them look like heroes that wisely saved the company money.

Finally, what Don Draper does to perfection is prepare for all situations that may arise, even if the clients have not thought of it themselves.  His ideas must be bulletproof, because he expects repeat business.  For this scenario, he may relate a story about an outside factor that may reflect poorly on the advertising message, or shine the brand in a bad light.  “Not to worry,” Draper would calmly say.  “The brand has complete control of the messaging and can change it on the fly as needed to respond to any situation.”

After sharing these benefits, Draper would stand and hold out his hand, ready to complete the deal. Of course he’d tell them not to bother signing any contract, but instead invite them to a UI where they can manage the campaign themselves.

It certainly is a different world for marketers than it was in the 60s. Sometimes I think we need the whiskey flowing just as much, if not more than the Mad Men. Or, at least more Don Drapers.