We've all spent money on things that were sold as "the next best thing," only to be disappointed when those promises aren't delivered or don't result in a return on our investment.

Now imagine spending millions of dollars on something that not only turns out to be fraudulent but also benefits your agency "partners" at your expense. That's the painful situation many chief marketing officers have been facing with programmatic display advertising.

It's a multibillion-dollar problem that's shaking the confidence of thousands of marketing decision-makers. But what is it, exactly, and why is it leaving CMOs fed up and frustrated?

The Broken Promises of Programmatic

"Programmatic" is a term used to describe the buying and placement of advertising using software and algorithms—bots, if you will.

The promise made to CMOs is that programmatic makes it possible to pay only for highly effective ads that are delivered to the right people at the right time: No longer does an ad buyer have to agree to run a specific number of ads with a publisher, or to be locked in to a contract.

Then, there's programmatic media buying, which is often done on exchanges where ads are bought and sold in real-time, like stocks. During that process, software is used to automate the buying and placement of media inventory via a bidding system. It's entirely automated.

Again, the promise is that this method for buying ads offers "precision" and "personalization of messaging and media," resulting in "more efficiently targeted campaigns."

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image of Robert Glazer

Robert Glazer is the founder and managing partner of Acceleration Partners, founder & chairman of BrandCycle, and author of Performance Partnerships: The Checkered Past, Changing Present and Exciting Future of Affiliate Marketing.

LinkedIn: Robert Glazer

Twitter: @robert_glazer