The jargon and opaque terminology around programmatic advertising, such as DMPs and PIIs, obscures – as is often the case in digital marketing – what is actually happening. The moment the link between audience and content was broken and brands started to target people rather than pages, a market emerged for information about people and what they are interested in. Think attention data or personal signals. This market has been expanding very rapidly ever since and now can be thought of as being similar to global financial markets, although less vast and sophisticated. That said, there is a lot of advanced trading occuring in these markets among some very big, very well-capitalised players ranging from Oracle to Experian. The layering of so-called first, second and third party anonymised data into elaborate targeting packages means companies can profit from media and advertising budgets without ever going near a channel plan. Of course, there’s nothing new in the idea of companies participating in media by supplying market research and targeting information such as email lists and direct marketing databases. However, comparing such old-school techniques to today’s programmatic markets for attention data is like comparing the modern world of global financial instruments to the city of London when all that was required was a bowler hat and a cut glass accent. In the Digital Strategy Sessions I run we look at what these new programmatic markets mean for brands and what's required to participate.