Super Bowl

Oreo and Ritz Mark First Super Bowl Ads to Be Purchased Programmatically

Regional Mondelez spots are game changers

The 15-second commercials will air in Erie, Pa.

Oreo is back to its old savvy marketing self with a plan for the Super Bowl that's sure to excite ad geeks. Its parent company, Mondelez, is the first to buy Super Bowl ads with programmatic technology, although they will only show regionally. 

Its ad tech team is calling this a milestone for the future of programmatic buying of TV commercials, which is among the last mediums to resist the automation of selling, inserting and reporting on ads.

The Oreo spot will show regionally, where broadcast affiliates appear to be more eager to embrace a new way of ad buying that cuts out some manpower and a lot of paperwork, according to TubeMogul, the software platform employed by Mondelez for all its programmatic video buying.

"This is the very first Super Bowl ad bought through software," said Brett Wilson, CEO of TubeMogul.

Mondelez is running 15-second spots during the halftime show for Oreo and Ritz, and the commercials will only show in Erie, Pa., to about 100,000 people. (Scroll down to watch the animation-driven commercials.)

Mondelez only bought the airtime this week, and said that shows some of the promise of programmatic advertising to streamline the ordering process.

"This is just a glimpse of the future of automated TV buying," said Laura Henderson, associate director of media and communications at Mondelez. "This is more about showing what's possible and showing where all this is going."

Oreo is no stranger to Super Bowl marketing. Two years ago, it sent the most popular tweet after an unexpected blackout during the game in New Orleans. Its quick thinking represented a seismic shift for brands, which are increasingly trying to generate social media attention at live events.

There is some fear in the industry about the programmatic future, because the technology is seen as a threat to the ad world's glamour and creativity. Also, ad space sold programmatically is often viewed as being lower quality.

This ad buy chips away at that argument. "Accessing local broadcast programmatically was not possible prior to recent months," said Eric Mathewson, CEO of WideOrbit, the software platform employed by broadcasters for managing ads. "And this is the first Super Bowl spot, which of course is preeminent TV."

The company would not say how much it cost to run the ads compared to others. The ads are not bought through a real-time auction, which is another form of buying that many associate with programmatic buying.

Also, TubeMogul and WideOrbit said they are still in the early stages of realizing the benefits of programmatic TV. Eventually, it is meant to make serving digital commercials seamless on any screen, so a campaign could just run ads and pick up targeted views from TV to tablets to laptops.

The benefits of programmatic TV is that the advertiser gets analysis of those views within 24 hours. "So if you're running spots across 150 designated marketing areas in the U.S., you know the next business day exactly what ran," Mathewson said. "Otherwise, you won't know until the invoice is received by your ad agency 30 to 45 days later."

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