VIEQUES, PR — Programmatic ad buying is less a media revolution than an evolution, one in which GroupM eschews the term “trading desk” in favor of an “upgrade to the toolset” available to agencies, according to the company’s President of Programmatic Buying, Joe Kowan.

Interviewed at the 2016 Beet Retreat by Matt Spiegel, MediaLink’s SVP/GM of Data & Technology Solutions, Kowan described Programmatic 1.0 as predicated on the need for effiency in the digital buying space.

“The unfortunate party of that was the requisite tradeoff of efficiency for sacrificing efficacy,” Kowan says. “And the overreliance on a sole publisher or technology provider to perform these tasks within their own ecosystem.”

Programmatic 2.0 will be characterized by more premium ad inventory and the adoption of more accountability tactics. This phase, however, won’t happen without some changes to the status quo.

“We won’t see it truly scale until some of the issues that are plaguing the real- time bidding ad exchanges like non-viewable and non-human traffic…are cleared up. I don’t think you’re going to see marketers and agencies go completely all in,” Kowan says.

Amid much discussion of semantics and definitions surrounding programmatic, Kowan steered clear of embracing the term trading desk when asked by Spiegel: “So you don’t obviously consider yourself running a trading desk?” Kowan’s response: “We’re enabling the agencies to use the programmatic toolset to optimize media.”

In any case, even as more marketers talk about bringing operations like programmatic buying in-house, Kowan believes clients need agencies now more than ever.

“They need someone working on their behalf in this complex ever-changing ecosystem to optimize toward their objectives, as opposed to a publisher optimizing for their own objectives.”

This video was produced at the Beet.TV executive retreat presented by Videology. You can find more videos from the session here.