The Drum Awards Festival - Official Deadline

-d -h -min -sec


How to sell programmatic in a jargon-filled world


By Madelyn O'Neil, Key Account Manager

May 17, 2016 | 5 min read

Buzzwords are a habitual norm in the fast-paced marketing and advertising world, almost mind numbing. Programmatic is one of those words which has found a way to transcend trends to become the newly adopted standard in advertising. However, with its rapid succession to weapon of choice, a lot of us are still lost-in-translation between acronyms and newly formed platforms.

stock photo

Therefore, I googled “How to sell programmatic advertising” and this is what I got:

programmatic google search

None of which helped me as a salesperson to understand how to sell the concept of programmatic to a client. The OpenX whitepaper looked about right but it turned out to be focused on how a publisher can sell programmatically, rather than an individual salesperson selling the product to their client. The next few pages of listings gave me the definition of programmatic, solution providers and more whitepapers.

However, selling the concept of programmatic is already difficult when clients are battling to get their heads around it. And before I can pitch programmatic to clients, which would sound like a middle schooler explaining calculus to an elementary student, I asked Erik Requidan, vice president of sales and programmatic strategy at Intermarkets, to explain programmatic in laymen terms. His analogy was simple and to the point.

“Programmatic is like the travel industry. Previously, one would search endlessly to find the cheapest ticket possible," he said. "Now, by using sites such as Orbitz, Expedia or Kayak, the buyer can find the cheapest ticket and also pick premiums - extra leg room, seat, class, meals, airline, direct or stops – to design their most perfect vacation. With programmatic buyers can design a very targeted campaign.”

Erik also gave me a bit of advice, “Buyers, today, have many resources available to find details about your [publisher] audience and scale. So, take time to bring insights and data about your publication they may not know. For example, not only unique visitors and page views, but include information on how often their target audience or category of client (auto, health, etc.) engage with your content.”

This was an important takeaway for me because as an old school direct seller, it was all about visitors and page views. With programmatic, we can help clients refine their campaign with the knowledge of our audience.

So, why is it important for marketing and advertising sales teams to learn how to sell programmatic advertising? Because according to that very OpenX whitepaper I mentioned, “Forrester Research reports that, today in the United States, exchange-traded advertising spending accounts for 21% of all display dollars for total of $3.1 billion.” That’s billion with a “B!” They continue, “By 2018, Forrester forecasts that exchange-traded advertising will grow to $8.3 billion and account for 30% of total display spending.”

That’s why I’m on a mission to learn from the best in the industry on how to sell programmatic advertising. First, I’m hosting a Meetup with the best-advice-giver, Erik Requidan on Wednesday, May 18th at our NYC office. Click here for the details.

Second, I’m interviewing a few sales professionals in the programmatic space, including a very good friend of mine, Emma Wiedner. She is senior account executive of client engagement at Xaxis and will discuss her experience selling programmatic to major retailers. I'll also be interviewing Vinny Rinaldi, director of programmatic from the newly awarded “Most Effective Media Agency” at the Digital Trading Awards at iProspect as well as a lovely sales person from Spotify and director of publisher services at AOL Melissa Helm. This article will be hosted on The Drum's site in the upcoming weeks.

Third, The Drum is hosting a business breakfast with leading brands, agencies, publishers, and ad tech companies on July 10, which coincides with The Drum’s inaugural Digital Trading Awards USA. I look forward to picking the brains of these programmatic evangelists. A recap to follow.

If you’re a salesperson looking to learn more on how to sell programmatic, creative advertising, native advertising, branded content, etc. please LinkedIn with me, follow me on Twitter @madelynsminkey, and visit The Drum's website. If you’re in the New York City area, feel free to join our Meetup group – we meet the 3rd Wednesday of the month to discuss “How to sell… in the Advertising and Marketing Industry.”

Hope to see you there.

Madelyn Sminkey is a key account manager at The Drum


More from Programmatic

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +