Programmatic Advertising Challenges—and Their Technology-Based Solutions

A little more than two decades after it first launched, programmatic advertising has solidified its place in the advertising ecosystem. Projected to account for $81 billion worth of digital display ad dollars by 2021, it’s no longer a question of if programmatic advertising will dominate digital advertising. Owning 85% of the display ad market share, the numbers speak for themselves. 

As advertisers are beginning to invest more heavily in programmatic advertising, we understand that there are some challenges you may face. We’ve outlined 3 of the biggest programmatic advertising challenges advertisers experience and technology-based solutions to combat them. 

What is programmatic marketing?

Programmatic advertising is the automated buying and selling of online advertising between brands and/or agencies and suppliers. The brands or agencies use a demand-side platform, or DSP, to essentially decide which impressions to buy and how much they should pay for each impression. The suppliers use a supply-side platform, or SSP, which is where they sell these impressions to brands and agencies.  

What are the biggest programmatic advertising challenges – and their solutions?

1. Viewability & Impression Fraud

Ad fraud has been a concern amongst advertisers from the very start of display advertising. Not exclusive to programmatic advertising, ad fraud still remains the top concern throughout the digital advertising industry. As the success of digital ads is measured based on impressions and views (or other similar KPIs), advertisers need to be certain that these views, clicks, etc. are coming from humans, and not alternative malicious forms to drive performance. 

Ad fraud can come in a variety of forms such as bots, ad stacking, and ghost sites (you can learn more about the different types of ad fraud here). These tactics work to drive performance numbers but offer no real human interaction with ads. These ad “impressions” are still paid for with the campaign budget, which in turn wastes campaign dollars and drives performance down.

This problem is not lost on digital advertising industry leaders. In an effort to stay one step ahead of these ad fraudsters, companies are investing in smarter, more advanced technology to give advertisers peace of mind that their ad is being seen by a human. Many companies offer solutions to combat ad fraud that include using machine learning or AI to detect patterns that seem to mirror ad fraud. Humans then review this activity and analyze data and patterns to better understand how ad fraud enters the advertising eco-system. This information, both from machine learning and humans is implemented into technologies to prevent new non-human traffic from entering platforms in the first place. Google is one of the industry leaders carving a path toward a fraud-free world, using a system just like the one mentioned above. 

The Solution(s)? 

At Digilant, we have a very strict vetting process to ensure our programmatic partners – DSPs, PMPs, etc. have advanced ad-fraud fighting measures in place. However, in addition to this, we also have a suspicious traffic filter. Digilant’s built-in suspicious traffic filter is a safety precaution that detects and eliminates fraudulent traffic. Even if the traffic cannot be confirmed as fraudulent, but exhibits similar attributes, it is classified as suspicious. Our four different levels of sensitivity – light, moderate, strong, and maximum – allows each brand to choose how heavily they want traffic to be filtered. 

2. Inventory Quality

Programmatic inventory refers to the ad inventory that a publisher makes available to programmatically purchase on the open market. This inventory is then bid on, in real-time, which in turn, places the ad in front of the viewer. Think about when you are browsing online and you open a webpage, most likely display ads load alongside the content you’re viewing. This is going on across everyone’s browser all over the US and world. The amount of inventory up for grabs is not a problem – there is no shortage.

However, the reason advertisers are so keen on programmatic advertising is not for the quantity, it’s the quality. Programmatic advertising allows brands to place their ads in front of relevant, interested consumers – increasing the chances that they interact with the ad. When thinking about programmatic advertising challenges, it’s not a matter of inventory quantity, advertisers are consumed with how to get the best quality. 

The Solution(s)?

The solution to ensure high-quality inventory works similar to the ad fraud solutions mentioned in the section above. However, at Digilant we have additional tactics that advertisers can use to combat inventory woes. 

Digilant Premium

Privileged Access to 1,000+ publishers that are all 100% Ads.txt verified with the ability to layer custom audience targeting.

What is Ads.txt? 

This is a simple, flexible method for publishers and distributors to clearly state which companies are authorized to use their digital inventory. Companies drop a text file on their website that lists the different companies authorized to sell inventory on their site. This will enable buyers to see which programmatic firms have authorization to sell ad space on specific websites, ensuring validity in their purchase. The upkeep for this process is also simple. Someone will have to monitor additions to an ads.txt list to stay up to date with authorized sellers.

Page Index

Our custom “allow-list” solution curates a customized network of sites and pages that both free of ad fraud threats and meaningful to your brand’s overall objectives and messaging. 

Private Marketplace

Digilant’s programmatic partner include strategic private marketplace (PMP) partners across industries such as travel, healthcare, and education. PMPs ensure advertisers know exactly which sites their ads will be shown on so they don’t have to worry about ghost sites or masking URLs. 

3. Brand Safety

Again, brand safety is not a challenge exclusive to programmatic advertising, but rather something advertisers are challenged with throughout display and digital advertising. Brands want to ensure their ad content is not shown next to negative, controversial, violent or otherwise potentially brand-damaging content. 

There have been a few very noteworthy examples of brands fighting against platforms who placed their ads next to questionable or harmful content, however most recently this came to light at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Brands wanted to ensure their messaging aligned next to factual, trustworthy articles and content  – they were apprehensive that their ads would be placed next to content that was spreading false information to consumers. And for some brands, they wanted to avoid their ads appearing next to COVID-19 related content in general. 

No matter the reasons for why your brand doesn’t want to appear next to certain genres of content, it’s important that those limitations are implemented across all campaigns.

The solution(s)?

The solutions mentioned above all will work in tandem to help fight ad fraud, eliminate inventory concerns and promote ease of mind for brand safety. But, there are a few different tactics our team can implement to ensure your brand image remains strong and ads only appear next to content you approve of. 


Digilan’t page index feature allows you to “allow” certain websites where you want your ads to run, however if you would like to take precautionary measures a step further, blocklisting is a good solution. Digilant continuously updates a universal list of blocklisted sites that we implement into every campaign, but we offer brands to add any custom blocklists to campaigns as well. 

Masked URLs

Although not all masked URLs are harmful to your brand, Digilant can run campaigns on transparent URLs to ensure we are not running on blocklisted sites. 

What is a masked URL?
A masked (or non-transparent) URL does not contain the URL in the bid request. A semi-transparent URL is a generic URLs that gives some indication of inventory source without disclosing the specific site.

4. Creative Forms for Programmatic (variety of sizes/formats)

Many advertisers find one of the biggest programmatic advertising challenges to be the different ad sizes necessary for the variety of ad formats available. Not including programmatic video and audio, there are still mobile, tablet, and desktop display units all in a variety of sizes that advertisers need to be cognizant of for their campaigns. It can be a rather cumbersome process to identify and create these different formats for ads. 

The solution(s)?

Not only do the advertisers have to think about the different sizes required to run a programmatic advertising campaign, but they also have to be visually enticing for consumers. The Digilant team has a variety of creative best practices we suggest for advertisers, learn more about our creative strategy and development tactics here

Social to display 

Many brands already have a strong social media presence which includes quality, engaging creative content. Using a social to display strategy allows advertisers to take these high quality social media images and use them as display ads across a variety of DSPs. This allows the content to be used across a variety of platforms, minimizing creative creation and maximizing consumer engagement.

Dynamic Creative Optimization

If advertisers don’t have the bandwidth to create multiple ad forms for varying products offers or occasions, dynamic creative optimization (DCO) is a great solution. DCO uses technology to place creatively relevant ads based on the viewer data, including where that specific consumer is in the buying cycle. An example of this is reaching cart abandoners with carousel ads showcasing the products they were looking at along with a message such as “Don’t wait, the items in your cart will expire in 30 minutes!” Using a DCO solution lessens creative lift with technology that creatives these ad forms, rather than manually creating all the different potential ad forms. 

Learn more about why you should pay extra-close attention to the importance of DCO during this holiday shopping season here.  

5. Knowledge

DSP, SSP, DMP, CTR, DOOH, CCPA, RTB – and the list goes on and on. Between the new acronyms, terminology, tactics and policies that are constantly evolving in the programmatic industry, many advertisers feel as though they are falling behind is what is most up to date. But, you’re not alone; Bannerflow reports that 50% of people using programmatic advertising, don’t fully understand it. 

With a wide variety of platforms and buying options, it can be difficult to navigate which option is best for your campaign, or brand in general. And as you try to navigate which channel is best to run your ads on, you also have to keep up with the evolving and growing consumer privacy laws. 

The solution(s)? 

Find a programmatic partner that alleviates knowledge-overload stress, along with all of the programmatic advertising challenges mentioned above.

Digilant combines internal programmatic expertise with strategic industry partnerships to ensure that you’re able to reach niche audiences across multiple platforms, all while remaining fraud free and brand safe. Our data-driven, actionable, and effective strategies have remained successful because we continually innovate to help our clients with purpose-built solutions tailored to their needs. Our team of data experts is armed with leading industry knowledge and a passion for data-driven results to ensure your campaigns are optimized for top-quality inventory success. 

We know the challenges that brands and agencies face. More pressure than ever to quantify business impact, greater trouble keeping pace with emerging channels, and an increasing need for digital media platform experts. With Digilant’s managed service offering, we make biddable media buying simple and challenge-free. Interested in learning more about how Digilant’s technology based solutions can solve for all your programmatic marketing challenges? Let’s talk!

5 Ways to Approach Omnichannel Marketing Challenges

Omnichannel marketing has proven itself to be more than just a buzzword of 2020. As brands are faced with more diverse buying patterns and higher expectations from consumers, siloed media plans are no longer a viable option. Advertisers are quickly realizing both the importance and necessity of implementing an omnichannel marketing strategy.

Today, 90% of brands either have or plan to invest in an omnichannel marketing solution. That number is up from 2017 when only 25% of brands reported that they provided a “seamless and consistent customer experience across all sales channels” and only 22% were implementing “marketing strategies geared toward customers converting on any channel.” In less than three years advertisers have had to improve and adapt their digital media plans drastically to stay on track with consumers and competitors who have already made the shift to omnichannel marketing solutions. As with any quick shift in strategy, there’s bound to be a few hiccups along the way. 

Below, we’ve outlined five omnichannel marketing challenges that advertisers face and solutions and tips on how best to approach them. 

But first, what is omnichannel marketing?

Omnichannel marketing is an approach to marketing that addresses the customer experience on each channel – desktop browser, mobile, retail, social media, podcast, and any others you might use – and how customers transition between each channel as they make purchases.

What are some omnichannel marketing challenges?

1. Channel Consolidation 

Consumers generally experience at least 6 touchpoints before making a purchase with a brand. As you can see in the graphic above, these touchpoints range from OTT/CTV to social media to search to email. The purpose of an omnichannel marketing strategy is to create a unified, uninterrupted, and seamless consumer experience across all of these channels. Understandably, this can be rather intimidating and frankly, difficult for brands to achieve. 

The solution? There are a variety of data-driven tools brands can use in order to better track and identify consumers across different channels. 

a. Identity solutions like MediaMath’s ConnectedID and EnrichedID, and Google’s Advertising ID.

Without solutions like these in place, advertisers will only be able to bid on impressions where the targeted action occurred on a specific consumer’s device. Utilizing a solution such as MediaMath’s ConnectedID uses cross-device recognition to bid on any of the targeted user’s devices.

How does it work? A cross-device solution uses deterministic data (such as a cookie or Mobile advertising ID) or individual (such as a customer ID) to link users across browsers and devices and build out a proprietary cross-device graph. Advertisers pass back a deterministic identifier so that associations can be built out for the advertiser’s customer base. A probabilistic model, where 3rd party cookies are not supported, is also used to pull in variables to assign cookieless IDs and identify users in those environments as well.

Not only do these solutions solve for channel segmentation challenges, but they also expand brands’ visibility and improve retargeting strategies, message amplification, and frequency management. 

b. Measurement and attribution solutions like Adverity and Datorama.

These tools use integrated settings and connectors to access all data points, including those stored in walled gardens. After the data is collected, relevant data is presented to advertisers across dashboards that are both easily accessible and digestible. You no longer have to spend hours trying to gather and analyze data. With this data all in one place, advertisers are then able to analyze performance across all campaigns and channels. This helps advertisers: 

  • Analyze cross channel attribution which in turn mitigates channel siloes
  • Identify negative trends before they greatly impact your business
  • Better optimize toward your specific campaign or business KPIs

If you’re interested in learning more about measurement and attribution solutions, schedule a live demo with one of our analytics experts here

c. CRM and marketing automation platforms like Salesforce, Marketo, and HubSpot.  

CRM platforms are extremely resourceful tools for organizations and sales teams to integrate into their workflow. With tools such as Salesforce, HubSpot, and Marketo advertisers are able to see how a lead entered the sales funnel – what ad they clicked on or social media post they saw. CRMs track valuable information about where consumers are in the sales funnel, what products or offers they are most likely to interact with, and conversions/interactions they have with your brand. Using this information allows you to implement tailored outreach campaigns, strategically moving the leads down the funnel. 

However, you can take this CRM data a step further and integrate it into your advertising campaigns to use across different platforms and channels. With Digilant’s Data and Onboarding solutions, our team will utilize your CRM data to create a more tailored, streamlined, and cross-channel ad experience for your consumers. Because this data signifies a user’s intent, creative ads will be more timely and personal to the consumers. This data can also be used to find new consumers whose online behavior mirrors your current consumers with look-alike targeting.

2. Lacking a Data-Driven Mindset

Some companies face a challenge when adapting to an omnichannel solution because the organization is not data-driven. Maybe your company has worked in terminal operations for years (or decades) and there isn’t a strong push to change this. At the end of the day, the idea of an omnichannel marketing strategy is only about 10 years old. So, it’s not surprising that some companies are still working to or having a hard time shifting the mindset to this data-driven marketing world we live in today.

The solution? First and foremost, a data-driven mindset has to come from the top of the organization. It’s difficult to change the mindset of the company when key stakeholders are not on board. Assuming that is not a hurdle you have to overcome at your company, now it’s a matter of making sure everything you do and processes you put in place all work to the overall goal of being a more data-centric company. Below are some steps you can take as an organization to kick-start this data-driven mentality 

Understand that you need data and why you need data 

Data can help to identify best practices within your advertising campaigns while also identifying new opportunities and audiences. Simultaneously, adopting a data-driven mindset will help quickly showcase and eliminate potential problems within your campaigns. Overall, data-driven omnichannel marketing campaigns are more efficient, scalable, and allow for better growth and efficiency. 

Identify a Data Advocate

Whether this is identifying someone within your organization or looking externally to hire a new candidate, designate a person (or team) at your company that will push the data-driven mindset forward. Encourage them to ask questions, dive into research, and bring new and innovative ways to keep the data-driven mindset at the forefront of your company’s operations. 

If you are short on resources internally, look to outsource insights and initiative towards a data-driven mindset. At Digilant, we have an entire team of data analysts that helps brand and advertisers to comprehend large data sets, drive performance through informed decision, and understand consumer behavior.

Find a data solution that works for you

This leads us to our next omnichannel marketing challenge and a solution to help solve it. Keep reading #3.

3. Data Management (and Integration)

The average marketer is now keeping track of customer information from an average of 15 different data sources. With each click, swipe, like, and comment, we are gathering more and more data about consumers. And, when it comes time to implement these data points into campaigns, matching the different formats can lead to more troubles and sometimes, data loss. 

The solution? Although it might require a bit of work upfront, establishing a unified data management workflow will put you ahead of the game in terms of data management and implementation. Rather than waiting until it’s time to implement the data into a campaign – which might require backtracking to gather, audit, and organize data – having a workflow in place from the getgo will set you up for success. To establish a data management workflow for your organization, think about all potential use-cases of data, and establish steps to make the most efficient and effective data management workflow. Taking the time to put a process together now will help mitigate challenges down the line. 

During any data management discussions within your organization or with outside partners, it’s important to remember the importance of consumer privacy and your role in protecting it. Here are a few resources to help you prepare for the changes in consumer privacy.: 

Apple iOS 14: What It Means for Marketers and First-Party Data

A 5-step path to cookieless digital marketing

4. Silos between the Sales & Marketing team

A tale as old as time: the chicken or the egg? Sales or Marketing? Silos amongst different departments are a pain point for many companies – 39% of employees believe teams in their company don’t collaborate enough. However, these team divisions don’t usually stem from a negative place. The sales team members have different areas of expertise and focus than the marketing team. People with these strengths are strategically chosen and hired help to move business along in both a sales and marketing capacity. However, now that consumers are practicing a more omnichannel experience, that means they are entering the sales funnel from a variety – and possibly multiple – channels, but expecting a linear path of communication from the brand. Segmented messaging from the sales and marketing team not only creates a bleak and non-preferential experience for the consumer, but it is also inefficient for the organization. 

The solution? Having a sales and marketing team aligned with a unified, clear strategy is now more essential than ever for a successful omnichannel marketing solution. The first step toward combating company silos is clear communication throughout the entire organization. Although, that’s usually much easier said than done. 

There’s no strategy that will work across the board for how best to engrain the importance of communication and a unified goal among your team. You have to find what works best for your employees and the leadership team. It could be weekly meetings, email newsletters, or employee dashboards. Whatever strategy your organization lands on, repetition and consistency are key. 

Once this communication strategy is put into place, here a few ways to continue to engrain the importance of interdepartmental collaboration to reach the company’s goals: 

  • Visually showcase how each of their roles fits into the overall puzzle, highlighting cross-functional departments and areas for opportunity.
  • Identify cross-departmental liaisons (or whatever term works best for your organization). These people should use an unbiased point of view to work as mediators as any problems or concerns arise. 
  • Conduct cross-functional training amongst your team. Learning a new skill set will help employees understand how different roles fit into the overall picture. 
  • Accept and encourage feedback. Hearing from all levels of the organization will help shape perspective on where siloes may be forming. 

5. Lack of Resources

As brands are starting to implement omnichannel marketing strategies, there are investments they have to consider ahead of time. There are costs related to training, and recruiting the right talent. Even once you have the team built, the investments continue to ensure your team is up to date on new regulations, channels, and consumer trends.

The solution? Look to outside resources and partners, like Digilant,  who can take all or some of the responsibility of managing, executing, and optimizing omnichannel campaigns off your plate. An outside partner will not only serve as an extension of your in-house team but will provide additional knowledge and expertise you may not have access to otherwise. 

Finding an omnichannel marketing partner to complement your team will help alleviate some of the biggest omnichannel marketing challenges advertisers face. At Digilant, we provide three different engagement levels to best meet the needs of advertisers:

  • Full Service: Our full-service solutions are purpose-built to position Digilant as the best possible partner to advertisers. We start with consumer research to define the target audience, which leads to the development of an integrated media strategy and sets the stage for campaign analysis and measurable performance. As a full-service media partner, we can create digital media strategies that span across all media channels.
  • Managed Service: Digilant offers a complete managed service digital advertising solution to agencies and brands. With channels supported across programmatic, search, and social, Digilant makes media buying simple. But, the real power of Digilant comes from our unmatched biddable media knowledge base and bespoke reporting and insights.
  • Self-Service: We recognize that self-service programmatic success requires much more than a login and basic platform training. The most effective way to get your team up and running with direct platform access is to provide personalized training sessions and comprehensive onboarding materials. Digilant is a one-stop-shop for all things related to programmatic in-housing. This includes dedicated client support and onboarding teams, full access to MediaMath’s programmatic media buying platform, and in-depth guidance on how to get the most out of your programmatic media investments.

Ready to combat take on these omnichannel marketing solutions?

As you begin to ramp up your omnichannel marketing solutions and investment, you may run into a variety of challenges. Establishing a data management workflow early on in your omnichannel marketing journey can help diminish challenges down the line. An outside partner like Digilant can make data management all the way through to data activation across channels simple. Wherever you are along your omnichannel marketing journey, Digilant can help.  Are you looking for a partner who can help you develop and execute your omnichannel marketing strategy? Let’s talk!

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