In 2018, an estimated $46 billion was spent on programmatic advertising by all Internet marketers. It’s further projected that by 2020 up to 90 percent of all the display ads you see on your cellphone screen will be programmatic.
In short, this digital technology is revolutionizing the way ad business is conducted, and how you’ll run your next travel marketing campaign. So we should start by answering a basic question.
What is programmatic advertising?
You see the fruits of programmable ad strategy just about every time you go online. Conduct an Internet search to find a nearby coffeehouse in Schenectady and you’re suddenly assailed with display ads for Schenectady coffeehouses on seemingly every web page.
In the early days of Internet marketing, you had to place your display ads…somewhere. Maybe you put an ad for a Cancun weekend getaway on Travelocity and trusted that at least a few people going to that page on that site were looking into Mexican resort vacations.
Programmatic advertising doesn’t wait for interested Cancun travelers to land where your ad happens to be. Google algorithms track individuals who’ve used search terms and visited websites that identify them as having an interest in Cancun travel.
That’s critical because most people don’t even notice display ads…except those that match a current need. A Cancun weekend getaway ad will totally escape your attention unless you happen to be conducting Internet research regarding pricing and availability of Cancun travel packages.
It’s much different than the old “spray and pray” advertising approach of dropping ads everywhere your budget will allow where you think interested parties just might show up.
Writing campaign-effective KPIs
The thing is, your programmatic ads are only as good as your programming. Once you set your campaign in motion, it will do whatever you told it to do. But how do you know you’re telling your automated campaign to do smart and cost-effective things? That’s where your KPIs come in.
Your key performance indicators are your documentation of what you want your programmatic advertising campaign to accomplish – and then what it did. If you are working with a programmatic partner, they can advise you on the KPIs that are most relevant for your brand and other digital efforts and how your campaign may stack up against the competition.
Effective travel marketing KPIs
Now that you know the basics of running a programmatic campaign for travel advertising, let’s look at some indicators you might consider tracking to measure performance.
Number of unique website visitors — There’s a lot that this number won’t tell you, but it’s a good place to start. If you know your average monthly unique visitor count, you can easily get a quick snapshot of performance by checking out your new numbers after campaign launch.
Conversion rate — What are people doing once you land them on your landing page? What do you want them to do? Watch a destination video? Download a brochure? Sign up for your email newsletter? How many are doing it? This is where A/B testing is a useful strategy. Use it to compare the effectiveness of varying offers and creative approaches.
Audience Engagement and Sales — You want engagement and sales, especially among your most valuable audience members. How many qualified prospects do you expect to reach through this campaign? How many leads do you need to convert to paying customers to justify the media spend?
Return on investment — ROI is always your bottom-line marketing metric, isn’t it? For many ad managers, it’s the difference between that next promotion or budget increase.
Maintain constant focus
No programmatic advertising campaign is static. While your ad placement is automated, your job doesn’t end after hitting a few buttons. You must constantly analyze the metrics, see what meets your KPIs and what doesn’t, and adjust your messaging and placement strategy for ever-better results.
As long as you do this, you’ll find your mistakes early and be able to reconfigure quickly and cost-effectively.
May the metrics be with you!