Programmatic ad buying has gone from being an advertising technology used only by the largest of businesses, to a key marketing tactic for any brand that wants to be seen and heard in today’s constantly expanding digital ecosystem. Despite its widespread prevalence, programmatic ad buying is an advertising practice that requires sophisticated training and knowledge to properly implement and get the most out of your ad dollars. If you want to plan and execute a programmatic ad campaign like a pro, you need to know what strategies to adopt, what trends and data to pay attention to and which metrics to follow to monitor performance?
Although programmatic ad buying campaigns can vary greatly in their tactics, with some aiming to amplify brand awareness, and others more focused on generating leads, a marketer that can develop a programmatic ad buying strategy that effectively reaches desired ROI while maintaining transparency is considered successful. Transparency refers to providing buyers with a clear view of the price of inventory purchased, the data leveraged to place their ads, and the environments in which those ads will ultimately end up, and being able to identify attribution.
How does programmatic advertising fit into an overall digital marketing strategy?
Whether you’re using digital media for direct acquisition or for brand awareness, if you’re still buying it traditionally, you’re letting go of opportunities to optimize your ad spend and maximize your total addressable market. In order to compete in today’s digital marketplace, integrating programmatic ad buying into your digital marketing strategy is a must.
In the broadest sense, programmatic is the automation of marketing activities, from the smallest programming of a post to implementing a highly layered real time omnichannel campaign. If you haven’t already dove into programmatic ad buying and are debating whether or not to get your toes wet, considering the following:
- Would programmatic buying more efficient than how my brand is currently buying media?
- Would programmatic buying be more transparent?
- Would programmatic buying be more profitable?
How does the process of programmatic ad buying work?
The development of algorithms using data science driven technology that analyze the behavior of an individual user, is the driving force of programmatic ad buying, optimizing bidding in real time and reaching audiences composed of the users that are most likely to convert.
Businesses that bid for inventory through programmatic ad buying can compile an enormous amount of data that can become audience segments. The sooner you launch a campaign and the more time it has to gather this data, the sooner your programmatic ad buying platform’s data intelligence can strengthen your overall digital marketing strategy through more efficient targeting.
Learning about how programmatic ad buying can drive your digital marketing campaign is great, but it’s equally as important to know what’s underneath the hood. Purchasing programmatic ads involves the following systems:
1.) DSPs (Demand Side Platforms) facilitate the purchase of ad inventory and allow marketers to reach their target audience when integrated with a data management platform. In Today’s marketplace there’s a wide variety of DSPs available to brands looking to buy ads programmatically, and programmatic agencies such as Digilant who can manage your campaigns.
2.) DMPs (Data Management Platforms) compile and analyze massive quantities of cookie and mobile data that provide insights that help advertisers make better and more informed decisions. Generally the data sets with which DMPs work with are:
- 1st party data: Data compiled directly from the advertiser; their website, social media platforms, email marketing and display campaigns, or their own CRM.
- 3rd party data: Data compiled from external sources. The user data points generally consist of age, gender, social and professional interests, geographic location, and other interests or needs of the user inferred from their online behavior.
3.) For content publishers, SSPs (Sell Side Platforms) are essential in providing a source of revenue. This platform is where various types of online media manage their unsold ad inventory. Bidders using DSPs are provided with information on the value of the available inventory from the SSP with data on page visits, visitor demographics, number of pages viewed, and length of site visit.
Step by Step Process
It’s essential to know how to work with the data insights that you acquire through your DSP. Once you feel that you have a strong handle on the aforementioned elements involved in the programmatic ad buying process, you’ll want to launch your campaign on a programmatic buying platform.
Whether your campaign is managed or you opt for a platform with self-service, it’s crucial that you partner with a provider that has a great support team to help you through any challenges that you come across throughout your campaign’s operation.
As seen in the above infographic, the programmatic ad buying process can be divided into 5 steps:
- Picking: The starting point of any programmatic ad buying process, picking refers to the period during which brands define the inventory criteria that they’d like to set before moving forward with bidding. Regardless of the DSP that you opt to use, you’ll be asked for information surrounding your budget, target audience, and the KPIs you want to achieve.
- Matching: Now that the DSP system knows what type of inventory you’re looking for, it will search ad networks and buy audience data from various digital environments and match your ads with the sites and platforms that will best align with your KPIs.
- Triggering: Once a match is found, the ad is placed and waits for a trigger. There are various types of triggers, but all refer to an interaction with the ad creative, whether it’s a click, a mouse-over, or simply a page view.
- Tracking: With the ad now visible and receiving engagement from users, data surrounding this engagement will be collected to provide advertisers with insights about how effectively the campaign is operating.
- Repeat: Programmatic ad buying is a cyclical process that repeats itself. Once you’ve launched your campaign and have had ample time to analyze its performance, the human aspect of programmatic must come into place. you will have to return to the starting point steadily. Being an automated process, the repetition becomes one more step, which the user assumes as natural and proper to the operation of this system of purchase.
Common Concerns of Marketers New to Programmatic Ad Buying
Programmatic ad buying was specifically designed to help marketers execute more scalable, efficient and precise digital campaigns, so why are some marketers hesitant to give it a shot?
There are several reasons why some brands don’t feel completely secure with implementing programmatic ad campaigns.
In today’s digital ecosystem, ad fraud is a huge concern for programmatic marketers. According to a Wall Street Journal report, it’s estimated that more than a third of online ad traffic is fraudulent, meaning a third of ads won’t be viewed by an actual user.
However, with advances in programmatic technology fraudulent traffic can now be detected by analyzing user behavior. The most common forms of fraud come from bots that generate irrelevant clicks and falsifying user characteristics, and ad fraud comes in many forms, including:
- Selling of inventory automatically generated by bots or background mobile-app services
- Serving ads on a site other than the one provided in a Real Time Bid – or RTB request
- Delivering pre-roll video placements in display banner slots
- Falsifying user characteristics like location and browser type
- Hiding ads behind or inside other page elements so that they can’t be viewed hindering a user’s opportunity to engage by frequently refreshing the ad unit or page
Fortunately, technology exists that combats ad fraud, tracking suspicious traffic and retargeting ads to user traffic with real potential customers that are most prone to convert.
As previously mentioned, a fraudulent ad will never be viewed by a real user, but beyond being seen by a human, what constitutes a viewable ad? The Media Rating Council deems a programmatic display ad viewable if at least 50% of the creative is visible to the user for at least one continuous second. This may sound like a non-issue, but viewability is crucial metric for any programmatic marketer. A study conducted last March found that 57% of ads served are not considered visible and that leads to wasted ad spend and diminishing ROI.
3.) Brand Safety
Companies like Integral Ad Science, that specialize in guaranteeing brand safety, have evolved to fully integrate their services to protect programmatic advertisers’ campaigns from operating in ways that can damage brand reputation. The main responsibility of these companies is to assure that ads across the digital ecosystem don’t appear in environments that could be compromising to a brand’s identity or mission.
It’s ultimately not worth the risk to invest in a programmatic ad buying platform if you aren’t able to guarantee that your ads will be displayed on secure media platforms, and more importantly, alongside relevant content with values congruent to those of your brand. Let this past March’s Google Ad Crisis be a reminder for all advertisers to prioritize brand safety.
Major Brands Relying 0n Programmatic Ad Buying for Results
Many brands today are decreasing their traditional ad spend or cutting it all together. In an interview with CNBC, Adidas’ CEO, Kasper Rorsted, stated, “All of our engagement with the consumer is through digital media and we believe in the next three years we can take our online business from approximately 1 billion euros to 4 billion euros and create a much more direct engagement with consumers.”
This decision marks an important paradigm shift for digital marketers. With the sheer quantity of online user behavior data available and a plethora of digital media channels on which to reach these users, today’s advertisers are positioned to create digital marketing campaigns with incredible scale. When combined with programmatic ad buying, this scale is effectively leveraged to target and uncover the most valuable users in real time.
Interested in unlocking data and uncovering your brand’s potential through programmatic ad buying? Learn more about Digilant’s solutions here.