However, far less attention has been paid to the innovative element of this automated buying and selling of digital media – the creative.

And herein lies the seed to the merging of programmatic and creative; which is the next wave of disruption and innovation to impact the digital ad industry – programmatic creative.

So, what is programmatic creative?

The software powered, automated, algorithmic approach to media buying, enabling pinpoint accuracy of people-based targeting with advanced optimisation is half the story.

Programmatic creative is the enabling of intelligent creative, where each person is exposed to a brand’s message that adapts, changes and is personalised to them, regardless of the device or site they’re on.

Programmatic creative enables the content of an ad to be programmatically manipulated so it’s more relevant and personal to the person it’s being served to, with a continuous feedback loop for optimisation.

The same application of machine learning algorithms to decide who to target, when and on what site, will be applied to the creative messaging as well.

How will Programmatic Advertising impact the role of marketing professionals?

Programmatic creative optimisation enables the ad elements to adapt from various data points – such as the user’s previous surfing behaviour, their location, the time of day etc. – to change the message, font or colour in an ad.

Programmatic creative also (and more interestingly) utilises user-specific data to enhance the messages themselves for that very individual.

For example, showing the exact product they may like, and changing the price and offer based on who they are.

In short, programmatic creative enables the intelligent manipulation of the creative based on what you know about that cookie ID, and the automated use of live data inside the creative so it’s increasingly personalised for the individual.

It’s important not to confuse programmatic creative with serving dynamic ads via programmatic channels or dynamic creative optimisation.

Programmatic creative goes beyond serving dynamic ads programmatically, it has the potential to adapt messages to individuals in real time on an on-going basis for true one-on-one communication, compared to delivering dynamic creative that is served to user segments that are predefined by the marketer.

The critical benefit of programmatic creative is that it’ll be the only way to truly ‘talk’ to millions of people individually, and reach that previously mythical land for advertisers of “mass personalisation.”

The ramifications

Software that can automatically build ads, optimise and personalise them, will have significant ramifications on the entire advertising value chain. It means traditional owners of marketing communications need to be prepared.

Has Programmatic Advertising killed creativity in marketing? 

It’s not going to be easy. It’s a pretty well-known fact that creatives – the people designing the ad – don’t talk with the programmatic delivery teams and, therefore, don’t know if their work was effective or not.

Some of the blame for this lies with marketers who could do more to teach creatives how their work is impacted by programmatic media plans, and the potential benefits ad tech provides without impinging on the creative process.

Much of the focus of start-ups and innovation with digital advertising has been focused in the infrastructure, the plumbing hidden beneath that no one sees. However, with the increasing need to thwart the threat of ad blocking, 2016 will see much more focus on how technology can impact what we actually see, that which is delivered to consumers.

Relevance and usefulness, without overstepping the delicate privacy line, is the key to a viable and successful online ad model.

The impact on our industry will be huge and creative agencies should be the first to be prepared.

Tickets are currently on sale for Econsultancy and Marketing Week’s Get With The Programmatic conference.

The event takes place in London on September 21st.