#IP2018 Recap: The Rise of Relevance and Death of Programmatic

Insights from Day One at Industry Preview, New York.

I got the chance to hear Lou Paskalis, SVP of Customer Engagement and Investments at Bank of America speak yesterday morning on the first day of the AdExchanger Industry Preview conference in NYC.

While I heard many speakers yesterday, the presentation Lou gave stood out to me. Lou honed in on a subject that's been hot with many of the brands that are struggling with reaching consumers today. . .


Relevance is an important and hot topic because consumers are more empowered than ever before. They have a world of choices in front of them, and with a click, can avoid brands and go with the one who’s more relevant. We know that when a brand aligns with the interests and emotions of consumers magic happens and a customer is created. But the problem is, it’s not easy to do, especially in the digital world. We’re just starting to see dollars being spent on strategies and technologies that help make relevance happen.

Keeping this in mind, here are a couple great takeaways from his presentation:

"...programmatic is the worst thing that ever happened to advertising.”

The context is that it was used to optimize transactions instead of harness and weaponize signal that could be used by marketers to publish more relevant content or experiences into a given context. It is a real-time connections platform that has been co-opted into a cost minimization role.

I'm sure you’re thinking this sounds a bit drastic, and that's because it is. Lou went on to say that programmatic IS, however, “the only salvation for marketing moving forward” and we should be using programmatic as a signal to optimize relationships, not just as a way to get low-cost impressions.

"We’ve lost sight of why we went into marketing. I don’t need scale. I need engagement. I need meaningful connections. I need to inspire."

Here is where relevance enters. When your brand, (whether through a TV ad, a Facebook ad, or an in-store interaction) makes a meaningful connection with a consumer, and aligns with that consumer's passions and interests, only then is the relationship made. Consumers choose with the heart, then rationalize with the head and advertising today is led the opposite way.

"We need an emotional signal to engineer relevance in every single interaction."

We can have all the demographic data, purchase data, or location data in the world, and probably reach loads of consumers with that data. However, without the ability to connect with a consumer's emotions, we lose the ability to make a meaningful connection and change behavior toward choosing our goods and services.

What marketers need to take away

The presentation Lou gave challenges much of what many marketers have made a career doing. That said, I think that’s what these kinds of conferences, like Industry Preview, should do.

We should all come away with an idea of what’s working, but more importantly what isn’t and how we can fix it collectively to make a better experience for who really matters – the consumer. In this case, if brand strategies shift toward making a meaningful connection with the passions and interests of a consumer, and we look beyond transactional reach metrics, we'll create the lasting brand-to-consumer relationships we all crave.