Keeping up-to-date on digital ad buying best practices is essential for any marketer to successfully navigate today’s digital ecosystem. Given the sustained high-level growth of programmatic media buying in recent years, the way in which we leverage new technologies to bring together the main players of digital ad buying and selling is constantly evolving.
To understand this evolution, you have to familiarize yourself with the foundations of programmatic buying, an impressions-based buying system that relies on algorithms generated from DSPs (Demand Side Platforms).
What for? It’s simple. DSPs need to access global ad inventory with millions of advertising impressions in real time, with the ability to adjust to what every advertiser wants or needs.
The main draw of programmatic buying lies in its ability to automate the ad buying process in Ad Exchanges and on websites from a unified dashboard.
Differentiating between Programmatic and Direct Ad Buying
Before reviewing best practices for digital ad buying, it’s important to understand the difference between programmatic and direct ad buying.
- Direct buying occurs when a marketer buys impressions in bulk, normally in a specific context on specified sites and from a specific publisher. This involves hours of researching which publishers’ impressions will be best to optimize campaign performance and then negotiating the purchase before launching the impressions.
- Programmatic buying occurs when a DSP automatically and instantaneously places ads on publishers’ sites after evaluating the quality of individual impressions from the best bidder.
Both buying methods have pros and cons and undergo different processes with online publishers. For example, though real-time buying allows an advertiser to reach wider audiences, it doesn’t offer a guarantee on return.
Best Practices for Digital Ad Buying
Real Time Bidding (RTB) marketing alludes to a type of digital advertising in which a variety of ad spaces are auctioned off in real time. The system identifies the visitor’s user information and then each is shown ads that correlate to their tastes and interests determined by data tracked from their online behaviors.
For this process to work correctly, it’s vital to make use of technology and big data. RTB wouldn’t be possible without generating and evaluating millions of data points. This data contributes intelligence to the entire programmatic buying process.
Additionally, advertisers can attract users more effectively thanks to being able to use data for the personalization of ad delivery. This is very evident if one’s to compare the effectiveness of traditional display campaigns.
Today, the majority of marketing departments are employing real-time programmatic buying for retargeting purposes, for example. However, programmatic ad buying allows marketers to also fulfill many other different strategies, analyze the relationships between all media channels, both online and offline, and consider segmentation possibilities.
10 Digital Ad Buying Tips
1.) Start with a general focus
Programmatic technology uses audience data to target specific consumers across vast amounts of ad inventory by using audience data to target individuals dynamically, on a one-on-one basis — in real-time. It’s particularly useful for advertisers who are seeking the reach of a large bulk buy without sacrificing the accuracy of targeting users.
Rather than pay for large inventory, advertisers hoping to reach consumers’ interest can bid for the right audience and the right time. Programmatic not only makes ads more relevant to consumers it also helps publishers to sell inventory in a more valuable way for advertisers.
Additionally, Demand Side Platforms, or DSPs are able to buy ad inventory across all sources with the use of computer programs called algorithms. An algorithm is a computer application that performs sophisticated calculations based on specific rules. For DSPs, these algorithms determine which impressions a specific customer should buy.
2.) Identify your target
As with any advertising strategy, digital or otherwise, marketers need to establish clear objectives and a well-defined target audience.
If you have a specific product or service to promote, or if you’re simply trying to amplify brand awareness on social media, you need to make sure that you’re reaching the audiences that are most apt to listen to your message. Otherwise, you’re wasting your time.
Start by determining demographic data, such as the gender, age, and location of your audience. After gathering that information, you can begin planning how and where to allocate your ad spend.
3.) Prioritize transparency
According to Smart AdServer, a third of digital media buyers don’t bid on blind inventories. For that reason, it’s important to segment your audience and provide buyers with as much data as possible.
4.) Think Mobile
The behavioral capabilities of programmatic buying technologies are strongly linked to cookies. Which is a problem when it comes to mobile, since there are no cookies on mobile devices.
In the past, mobile marketing was used to view products before completing a purchase in a physical store or from your desktop. However, according to eMarketer, 75.7% of U.S. buyers are willing to make purchases directly from their phones and over the coming years that figure is expected to grow significantly.
Additionally, 9 out of 10 smartphone users have used their phone at some point in the buying process, according to the IAB. This is why it’s important to adapt all creatives to mobile devices before starting your next digital ad campaign.
5.) Monitor minimum bids and block lists
Another digital media buying best practice is the consistent monitoring of your minimum bids. If you’re aware of where your ads will get the most value for their traffic and track minimum bids once or twice a week, you can multiply your return in the short term.
6.) Identify what ad formats are growing
Consider the following data from ComScore: After viewing an online video ad, 64% of users are more predisposed to the purchasing a product online. According to Unruly, online video ads increase purchase intent by 97% and brand recognition by 139%. Still wondering what format to use?
Video generates double the engagement that traditional banner ads generate. Even interstitial ads (advertisements that temporarily take up an entire device’s screen) have average bidding prices that are 60% higher than those of banner ads.
In addition to their creative capabilities, new and more captivating ad formats like dynamic creatives, can be programmatically delivered to the user in real time.
7.) Find Similar Users – Lookalike Modeling
Leveraging the data collected from your cookies, DSPs can find new and undiscovered users that look like your customers to whom you can target your ads and optimize conversion rates as your campaigns progress. Lookalike modeling involves defining the attributes and behaviors of your most valuable customers and then using these profiles to target matching prospects. Since these new audience segments are similar to your current customers, you’ll enjoy a higher likelihood of conversions.
8.) Implement Dynamic Creative Optimization
If you combine the power of a DSP with the audience management from a Data Management Platform (DMP), your campaign’s performance will improve significantly.
This lift is attributed to the sorting and classifying of customers based on diverse criteria makes it easier to deliver more personalized ads in which creatives are launched based on where in the sales funnel a user is located.
9.) Brands go for in-house management
With the emergence of new programmatic software platforms, companies are increasingly willing to control the advertising spend by keeping programmatic buying internal, facilitated by brand marketers. This is the area of programmatic spending that has grown most in recent years.
CMOs that directly manage their digital ad buying build internal competencies in the execution, measurement and optimization of programmatic campaigns
10.) Use attribution models to properly measure campaign performance
The efficiency of programmatic campaigns is calculated by tracking post view and post click conversions. Therefore, client acquisition strategies should be data oriented, steadily measuring and predicting the media channels that willyield optimal results based on the brand’s campaign goals.
Finally, the ultimate best practice for programmatic ad buying is to constantly improve upon the above practices and strategies. At Digilant, we don’t simply follow best practices for programmatic ad buying, we create them as the needs of our buyers and the technology to serve them evolve. Programmatic ad buying doesn’t just help reach new clients; it uncovers new and more valuable audiences.
Interested in unlocking data and uncovering your brand’s full potential? Learn more about Digilant’s solutions here.