The downside of programmatic advertising

screenshot_86KEY TAKEAWAY:“ Programmatic” ad buying typically refers to the use of software to purchase digital advertising, as opposed to the traditional process that involves RFPs, human negotiations and manual insertion orders. It’s using machines to buy ads, basically but it can lead to mistakes for pharma.

According to Digiday “before programmatic ad buying, digital ads were bought and sold by human ad buyers and salespeople, who can be expensive and unreliable. Programmatic advertising technology promises to make the ad buying system more efficient, and therefore cheaper, by removing humans from the process wherever possible. Humans get sick, need to sleep and come to work hungover. Machines do not”.

The problem, for pharma, is that we need, in most cases the human touch to ensure ads wind up in the right place.  The Viagra ad, below, did not.  It wound up on a NY Post page about a former Playboy model taking a nude picture of another woman at the gym.


In the past, I have seen cholesterol ads on pages featuring fattening foods as well as drugs for depression on news story pages usually about a person who committed a serious crime because of a mental illness.

Pharma managers need to ensure that their online media agencies do not place ads on pages that would be considered “bad taste” or poor choices.  Safeguards have to be put into place and that means having a digital agency who thinks before placing ads.