People are underestimating the complexity of programmatic: Oscar Garza, Essence

Oscar Garza, Global Head of Media Activation, Essence, says one of the key misconceptions people have about programmatic is that it makes things simpler

e4m by Ruhail Amin
Updated: Oct 29, 2018 8:26 AM

The use of artificial intelligence, big data and programmatic might be common terms in today’s super targeted media buying space, but there are nuances within these terms that have largely been overlooked. Oscar Garza, Global Head of Media Activation, Essence, unravels the complex side of these terms and explains why programmatic has become a widely used misunderstood term.


How would you sum up Essence’s approach to media activation?

At Essence, activations involve a broad spectrum of consumer interactions. Our approach is to first understand the consumer through research and data, and see how they are responding to media interactions. All this helps to bring alive the brand experience and connect with consumers and also gives consumers deeper insights into the product.

Talking about media activation, how do you effectively target consumers in a culturally and linguistically diverse market like India?

The Indian market is a microcosm of what we see globally. India is actually many smaller nation states put together. So when you have a number of different cultures, histories and languages, it is going to be difficult to provide the right experience to consumers unless you know who that consumer is. In such a diverse market like India, we are using research techniques and machine learning to know the effectiveness of messages and ensure that for a given combination of language and culture, we are providing correct messaging.

How is Essence leveraging machine learning and artificial intelligence?

When you have a treasure trove of data, you can use machine learning to derive insights from data.  We do it for customer understanding and predictive assessments of how media plans work and what kind of goals should we have for a given set of consumers. We use artificial intelligence to pre-populate campaigns.  So we are spending less time pushing the same buttons while running campaigns day to day with the help of AI.

Do you think programmatic has become one of the most misunderstood terms in the market today?

Programmatic is a term which almost fails itself. It is quite broad and encompasses a lot of nuances. Programmatic, in some cases, should be along the lines of media pitted on real time, media that is automated and media that is injected with data etc. One of the key misconceptions people have about programmatic is that it makes things simpler. We are applying a new set of software to a very complex ecosystem of media transaction and most people don't care to understand it at the level that programmatic follows.  Given this scenario, people are underestimating the complexity of programmatic.

What is your view about use of traditional media platforms, do you still find them relevant and effective?

If we look at India, one of the fascinating things about the Indian market is the popularity of traditional media platforms like television etc. It is still a highly effective tool to create business results and reach. And with the kind of pricing it offers, it is difficult to make any argument for complex applications like programmatic. So traditional media will continue to stay super relevant when it comes to media consumption behavior of people in the country and it is here to stay.

What are some of the biggest challenges in the ad activation space today?

I think first is correctly evaluating the impressions that you are buying. Second is the issue of ad fraud and the complexity of supply chain. The third challenge is the availability of right talent. 

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