The 7 Most Common Errors Programmatic Media Buyers Should Avoid

Many brands still don’t take advantage of all the possibilities offered by programmatic advertising, preventing them from increasing the profitability of their media buy and maximizing their ROI.

Instead, if brands leveraged the potential of programmatic advertising they could broaden their audience, reaching twice as many unique users, increasing conversions by more than 36%, and reducing CPA vs. traditional online media buying methods.

Analyzing Campaign Errors

Digilant analyzed nearly 500 programmatic advertising campaigns and identified the seven most common mistakes made by media buyers that hinder performance of their campaigns.

  1. Vague or overambitious campaign goals.

    Although digital marketing has become increasingly precise in its targeting, it’s still very common for advertisers to want to cover too many goals or KPIs at once with their programmatic investment. Advertisers should be clear in setting their KPIs to whether for example they are looking to increase brand awareness in a new market, drive online conversions or in-store traffic, or other goals.  That starting point is imperative, the advertiser’s target must be aligned with the most appropriate programmatic tactics, which will ultimately improve campaign performance and ROI.

  2. Failure to segment audience data using programmatic technology.

When provided with large volumes of user data, the possibilities of different types of audience segmentation are endless. There are about 200 individual data points associated with each online user, and by using dynamic programmatic reporting, marketers can create profiles that allow for real-time segmentation and thus increased performance.  To capitalize on this enhanced campaign performance, the audience must be segmented at several levels. With each layer, the objective is to filter and eliminate users that do not fit the target audience for that brand.

  1. Ranking users without considering their value.

By applying machine learning and using data from advertisers and third party data providers, it’s possible to determine the appropriate user profiles for the advertiser to target in real time that are most likely to convert. Skipping this step puts campaigns at risk for failure. After identifying users’ behaviors, predictive algorithms can be applied to determine the value of each profile and user in real time. Knowing the value of the user will allow the audience to be segmented efficiently and effectively, by focusing the campaign on the right users and increasing the investment on users who will be more prone to make a purchase.

After executing a campaign it’s important to reexamine consumer conversion data to optimize the effectiveness of future media buying actions, as brands can exponentially enhance the returns on their programmatic campaigns by knowing more about their user behaviors and attributes.

  1. Delivering the same creatives to customers and leads.

One of the great strengths of programmatic advertising is its predictive ability. It is possible to apply data science algorithms to find potential “new consumers”, not just recycle the same users gained through retargeting.

But it would not make sense to send the same message to the every user. It is necessary to personalize the messages directed to the different profiles that the campaign wants to impact, using technologies like Dynamic Creative Optimization (DCO) to optimize the ad investment. This level of customization is not done as often as it could be for programmatic campaigns, which can negatively impact performance.

  1. Low investment in attribution.

Insights gleaned from programmatic KPI metrics allow marketers to understand campaign performance at a level that is unmatched by other traditional channels such as print advertising or television. The added invested in attribution gives media buyers the opportunity to analyze the results beyond last click, which is a one dimensional view of online marketing and doesn’t allow for full funnel analysis.

Attribution allows you to understand how the media really affect results. For example, actions in the media may be linked to loyalty data or to credit card transactions; So by using attribution technology it is possible to measure the impact of a campaign or a channel on the final conversion of a new customer. In addition, advertisers can also analyze the impact of a campaign on the brand and the perception of users.

  1. Campaign reports are not optimized for future strategies.

Programmatic ad buying provides more metrics, information and data than any other advertising medium. Taking advantage of these real-time stats can help brands and agencies discover ideas that are not always intuitive to them and guide the strategy of their next campaign.

For example, a sportswear retailer may be focussed on targeting a totally male audience. However, a programmatic campaign using intelligence gained through data science could reveal that its highest performing audience is actually in the segment of women aged 25-34.

  1. Using the wrong marketing channels.

There are many ways to reach an audience programmatically — desktop, mobile, apps, video, native advertising, audio and traditional television, for example.

Each channel offers potential advantages and drawbacks that marketers need to carefully weigh when deciding where to allocate their ad spend. If the priority is to take a low-cost action with a quick return on advertising investment, it’s best to invest your budget in display. Video and audio justify the highest CPM if you pursue better brand recognition.

It is also important to keep cross-device segmentation in mind, as the average consumer connects to the Internet through five or more devices daily.

Programmatic ad buying relies on advanced data science solutions to provide marketers with a comprehensive understanding of their respective marketplace and at the same time gives them the tools they need to set out more precise guidelines for optimize advertising campaigns and increasing their ROI. However, many companies still treat their target audience as one large segment, often employing obsolete tactics without analyzing the consumer’s behaviors, interests and attitudes, to find the right segments within that large audience to target.

Advanced segmentation, especially adaptive segmentation allows you to identify the most essential existing audiences for a brand and uncover new key segments. It is as important to spend time with your media buyer to find the right tactics and channels for a programmatic campaign, as it is to learn from the results. The flexibility provided by programmatic advertising allows a continuous optimization during and after a campaign. The analysis and strategy prior, during and after the campaign will ensure that future media buys will have better results for the investment made


  • Too many campaigns are executed without having properly analyzed the value of each user, which is essential to effectively segment the audience, thus improving performance: investment should be increased in clients more prone to conversion.
  • The second most costly error: do not apply algorithms or look alike models to find potential “new consumers” by recycling users gained through retargeting. The messages are not targeted to the different profiles that the campaign wants to impact, and the investment is therefore not optimized.
  • Unclear objectives, mistaken marketing channels, inability to identify adequate data layers, poor measurement of objectives and not optimizing the information obtained are other frequent mistakes.
  • Properly using the potential of programmatic advertising allows advertisers to broaden their audience, reaching twice as many unique users, increasing conversions by more than 36%, and reducing CPA versus traditional online methods.

Your Cookies Are Stale, So What’s Next For Digital Marketers?

By Mike Addonizio, Director, Platform Solutions at Digilant

The digital advertising industry loves cookies – the dominant data currency of today. Much of programmatic media buying technology and the way we deliver billions of digital ads, depends on this magical string of characters that helps identify consumers online. But what exactly is a cookie and how is it used to target ads? It’s not as straightforward as you’d think and the answer should help you understand why the ad industry will eventually replace the cookie and move to “People-based Advertising.”

What Is A Cookie?

cookiesIn the advertising industry, many would say that a cookie is a digital identifier for a consumer that an advertiser can target. While this is true, it can be misleading. A cookie is an identifier for a browser on a device. Each device has multiple browsers and each consumer has multiple devices. So, while a cookie is an identifier for a consumer, it is one of many cookies that represent each consumer. When advertisers target a cookie, they target one browser, on one device, for one consumer.

How Many Cookies Does A Consumer Have?

It varies by country, but the global average is approaching four devices per consumer (source). Therefore, at a minimum, the average person has at least four cookies. However, each device can have multiple browsers, and therefore multiple cookies. Even your iPhone, which has a default browser (Safari) that
most of us use, contains multiple browsers. For example, when you open a website in your Facebook app or Reddit app, that behavior is likely attributed to a different cookie than the default browser on your phone.

Today, cookies are increasingly short-lived. When someone clears their cookies, they are essentially changing their digital advertising identifier for that browser and all previously collected behavior is lost. When someone uses private browsing (like “Incognito” mode on Chrome), they create a new cookie each time they reopen the browser.

So if a programmatic advertiser wants to target a specific cookie, it’s possible that they will never see that cookie again because the consumer has cleared their cookies.Programmatic Marketing Cookies

How Is A Cookie Used To Target Ads?

In the early days of digital advertising, it was quickly recognized that profiles could be built around cookies by tracking what users do across multiple websites. For example, if you browse between a travel blog, TripAdvisor, and Expedia, it can be inferred that you are in market for a vacation. In order to monetize their audiences, websites started sharing data with third-party resellers, like BlueKai. These resellers wrapped that behavior up into segments, and sold bundles of similar cookies to multiple advertisers.

It has been quite successful to date, but with the explosion of devices, the surge of ad blockers, and learned habit of “clearing cookies,” the age of cookies for digital marketers  is coming to an end.

The Future: People-based Advertising

The goal of digital advertising has always been about using consumer behavior to communicate the right message to the right person at the right time. The more data an advertiser has about users, the more this goal can be realized.

It should be obvious by now that in today’s world a cookie represents a small portion of consumer behavior. In the days when most consumers had one desktop device and no ad blockers, a cookie represented the lion’s share of that person’s online behavior. However, we have hit a tipping point in the advertising industry where the value of a cookie is diminishing.

In order to replicate the success of the past, behavior across browsers and devices must somehow be tied back to the consumer. This is referred to by some as “People-based” advertising – where targeting occurs at the level of the consumer, not their cookies.

In order for People-based advertising to work, a shift from cookies to an identifier needs to happen. Many have looked at an email address as the alternative option. If an email address is tied to cookies, it is possible to tie behavior across multiple devices and browsers back to an individual. Furthermore, an email address translates to other channels – such as social, search, and email (of course!).

However, the reality is that many consumers have multiple email addresses – a personal email, a work email, and an email used for junk mail – and email addresses don’t last forever. While email is a great first start, it won’t create the defragmented consumer profile required for optimal ad targeting.

Could A Mobile Phone Number Enable People-based Advertising?

mobile advertisingMost consumers have one mobile phone number. Since mobile providers allow for a phone number to be transferred from one provider to another, consumers don’t often change their number. The mobile number is a non-fleeting, unique identifier that represents a consumer. If all digital behavior could be tied to a mobile phone number, advertisers would have a full profile of their consumers.

It’s no surprise that ecosystems, like Facebook and Google, are requiring a mobile phone number to verify a consumer’s identity. If you want to sign up for an account, you need to provide your phone number. As this practice becomes commonplace for smaller apps, publishers, and websites, mobile phone number could become the identifier of the future.

For programmatic advertising, a consumer’s unique ten-digit identifier could one day act as a replacement of the cookie – assuming this happens in a privacy compliant way. It would span ecosystems, devices, browsers and help advertisers achieve their goal of delivering the right message to the right person at the right time.

Digilant Awarded Best Use of Big Data for Their Consumer Persona Product at The 2017 MITX Awards

Celebrating Data Science, Marketing and Programmatic Innovation with a win at the 21st Annual MITX Awards

BOSTON, May 30, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Digilant has been selected as a winner in the category of Best Use of Big Data at the 2017 MITX Awards for their Consumer Persona Product.

The MITX Awards show is the largest and most prestigious annual awards competition in the country for technology and digital innovation. The categories in this year’s program showcase the disruptive marketing, creative, and emerging technologies happening in New England. Winners were announced in 24 categories at a sold-out event held on May 25th at Royale Boston.

MITX Award 2017 - Company Announcement EmailDigilant’s Consumer Persona is unique in the programmatic advertising industry in that it curates online data of consumers that are actually engaging and converting, uncovering REAL customers and creating unique data segments, based upon each advertiser’s individual data signals.

“At Digilant we’ve listened to our clients and appreciate that it is not enough to just develop complex programmatic algorithms,” said Adam Cahill, President of Digilant US. “In the digital advertising ecosystem, a large chunk of the value of the data being produced is lost because it is not translated into a format that clients can experience and use. We came up with a satisfying visual output that was a real representation of the intricate nature of our client’s data.  This output is focused on three of our advertisers’ main business objectives: Performance Lift, Reach (new customers), and the Discovery of New Audiences.  We are honored to have Consumer Persona recognized by the New England digital technology and marketing community.”

“This year’s entries exemplified the curious intellect that drives innovation in Boston,” said Amy Quigley, President of MITX.  “It was an exciting evening marking 21 years of creativity and industry leading ideas in technology. I was overwhelmed by the energy.”

For the complete list of winners and other information please visit the MITX Awards Website.

About Digilant
Unlock Data. Uncover Customers.
Digilant offers programmatic buying solutions and services designed for independent agencies and brands that are increasing their programmatic spending. Using data science to unlock ‘new’ automated buying strategies, Digilant enables brands to uncover proprietary and complex audience data that gives them the actionable intelligence they need to compete across every important media channel.
Digilant is an ispDigital Group Company. For more information, visit us at or follow us on Twitter @Digilant_US.

About MITX
Inspire. Connect. Provoke.
For the restless companies that comprise the Massachusetts technology and innovation eco-system, MITX is the ultimate resource: inspiring members with progressive thinking, meaningful connections and provocative conversation. Celebrating 21 years of connecting tech and innovation professionals in New England, MITX is a dynamic community of more than 7,500 thought leaders and collaborators in search of insight, education and opportunity. MITX is headquartered in Boston, MA. For more information, visit
CONTACT: Karen Moked, 844-344-4526 x754,

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