In today's post, we explore the concept of programmatic advertising. This powerful new advertising methodology allows you to target customers much more efficiently. As you'll see in the next section, programmatic advertising really is the future. Put off learning about this innovative marketing methodology at your own risk.
In this post, you will learn:
• What programming programmatic advertising is
• How to optimize your programmatic ads and why you should
Learning about programmatic advertising will save you time and money both short and long-term. Ready to get started? Read on.
What is Programmatic Advertising?
Programmatic advertising is the use of software and other automatic means to purchase digital ads. This is opposed to the traditional process, which involves the use of RFPs, manual insertion and human intermediaries. So, at the most basic level, programmatic advertising uses more advanced technology to automate much of the digital advertising process.
Why is programmatic advertising important?
The short answer is efficiency. Before programmatic advertising, digital ad sales were processed by human ad buyers, salespeople, and bulky online platforms. It was expensive and unreliable. Programmatic advertising streamlines all of this. As you know, greater efficiency means lower costs.
In other words, this emerging technology delivers enhanced efficiency by removing humans from the equation as much as possible. Overall, humans are the most inefficient component of any system. Humans get sick, they need sleep, and they often make excuses.
The machine learning algorithms that power pragmatic advertising replace humans—at least when it comes to doing menial tasks. For instance, humans used to have to send insertion orders to publishers. They also had to deal with things like add tags. This is no longer the case.
While programmatic advertising ushers in a new era of efficiency, humans are still required. For the time being, for instance, a human being will still be the one to optimize your campaigns—even if that human being is you. Humans still need to sift through all the optimization data and make decisions. In time, however, this may change.
In the meantime, programmatic advertising provides a way to lessen the burden on human campaign managers.
Overall, programmatic advertising allows marketers to spend more of their time optimizing their campaigns. The result? You will see slicker campaigns from competitors in the future.
Consequently, if your competitors are using programmatic advertising you are not, you run the risk of being left behind.
The simplest form of programmatic advertising is a real-time bidding system. Real-time bidding allows advertisers to purchase ad space in real-time auctions. A still more sophisticated type of programmatic advertising uses software that allows advertisers to purchase guaranteed ad impressions. In this model, these guaranteed ad impressions are purchased in advance from specific publisher sites.
However, it's impossible to predict what portion of advertising will be traded programmatically going forward. Even today, it's difficult to tell how much of current advertising is traded this way. What we know for sure is that this type of ad is on the rise.
Many advertising agencies, when polled, state that they are eager to embrace the practice. Reasons for this vary, but the most common is the aforementioned rise in efficiency. When talented advertising professionals spend less time on drudgery, they spend more time planning their campaigns.
So far, some brands have created dedicated programmatic channels. Others have gone a step further, building in-house teams that handle programmatic ads exclusively. As you might expect, programmatic advertising is most common in the online digital marketing space. Increasingly, however, media companies are exploring ways to sell traditional media within a programmatic framework. Again, this can make the process much more efficient and therefore less expensive. This is definitely something to keep an eye out for.
The Art of Optimization
When starting out with programmatic ads, it's a good idea to focus on optimization from the very beginning. Think of this as a hack that can help you skip the line. Starting with optimization provides a stellar framework from which you can quickly and easily build profitable campaigns.
To that end, in this section, we’ll cover four optimization tips. These tactics are chronically overlooked.
#1 Rely on Optimization Data
Programmatic optimization is the process of improving a programmatic ad campaign in real time. To do this, you use optimization data, of which there are two types:
• Data from previous campaigns
• Data from your live campaigns
When you use optimization data from previous campaigns, this is known as pre-optimization. This is a great way to start because you won't be relying exclusively on data from your current campaigns.
Remember: even if your previous campaigns failed, they are chock-full of information that you can use to ensure future success.
When you use optimization data from your current campaign, this is known as real-time optimization. When you launch a new campaign, ask yourself: what is my campaign goal? This goal is a beacon that will guide you towards profits, even through choppy waters. Focusing on this goal is extremely important if you want to optimize your campaigns.
So your first step is identifying the KPI that correlates strongly with your main goal.
Imagine you’re opening an e-commerce store. In this example, your main KPI may be cost per acquisition. Therefore, all of your optimization points should be focused on your CPA. Various platforms refer to optimization points differently. For instance, Google refers to them as dimensions. Most other platforms call them gains.
Whatever the case, examples of optimization points relevant to the above example include:
• The operating system
• The website
• The user’s browser
• The device your customer is using
• Your audience
• The creative elements in your ad
• Your context categories
When you gather data from a live campaign, you should see a pattern emerge. Patterns inform you of the automation optimizations you should make. Think if your primary KPA as a guidance mechanism. All data coming in from your campaign should be looked at as optimization data. Are you moving closer to or further away from your target KPI? A failure is only a failure if you fail to learn from it.
For instance, you may find that some e-commerce sites generate higher conversion rates on desktop than on mobile. If your data shows this, you should adjust your campaign. However, keep in mind that variance in sample size matter. As you receive more data, revisit your original hypothesis. Does the new data reflect the hypothesis that the desktop will outperform mobile? If so, keep going. If not, experiment with more mobile impressions.
Always be prepared to swerve back when you make big changes based on a small sample size. Especially if your experiment indicates that your hypothesis was invalid.
#2 Use Effective Hooks
The next step in mastering programmatic ads is to optimize your ad copy. The creative elements of your ad grab and hold the user's attention. These are known as hooks. It's crucial that your hooks be engaging. You have only moments to grab your prospect’s attention.
The problem? Most consumers have a condition known as ad blindness. Ad blindness occurs when the brain automatically filters ads from the user’s perception. The brain does this so that it can conserve energy—it likes to filter repetitive, non-threatening stimuli.
This goes all the way back to when we were living in caves, avoiding threats like snakes on the ground. Today, consumers are bombarded all day by advertisements. This stimuli is nonthreatening, but it is also monotonous and mundane. The brain filters it out. How, then, are you able to overcome this?
The answer is to use effective hooks. Your ads must consistently stand out from the rest of the page. This means creating eye-catching visuals, delivering well-written, crisp copy, and providing clear value propositions.
Your ad must have a clear call-to-action. Never be afraid to tell the consumer what you want them to do. In fact, this step is imperative. The consumer is aware that they’re reading an advertisement. They know, therefore, that you want them to do something. Don't be cute about this. Don't be coy. Tell the user emphatically what you want them to do with a clear, concise call-to-action.
Many novice marketers become nervous when it comes time to ask the customer to take action. This is a critical error. When you have a campaign that isn't doing well, always appraise your call-to-action first. If you find that your CTAs are lackluster, don’t lose heart. Consider it optimization data. How can you improve the efficacy of your CTAs? Think of it this way: you now know what doesn’t work.
#3 Don’t Overlook Hyper-Local Targeting
One of the biggest optimization opportunities is adding hyper-local targeting to the mix. If your brand is multi-location, programmatic ads on Google and Facebook will provide hyper-local targeting. This, in turn, helps you inform local customers of the locations that are most relevant to them. Hyper local targeting allows you to target specific areas, such as neighborhoods or even street addresses. In other words, you can, and should, customize the content of your ads to reflect the user's location. This is extremely powerful as it allows you to create a bond with the prospect quickly.
Hyper-local targeting helps you instill a sense of trust with the prospect. If you have an established brand, you can use this technique to create a more powerful connection with prospects. If the prospect recognizes your branding and realizes that you have a store near them, they'll be more likely to visit you.
#4 Use Behavioral Targeting
Our final optimization technique is behavioral targeting. With behavioral targeting, you serve ads to users based on their:
• Browsing habits
• Search history
• Purchase behaviors
By serving ads based on behavior, you can precisely target your ideal audience. This can drastically increase your efficiency and will thereby save you money. Platforms like Google and Facebook make this relatively easy to do, but many novice marketers overlook this step.
Like any tool, programmatic ads rely heavily on operator competency. Now that you’re armed with these techniques, you’ll be able to outperform your competitors on a consistent basis.
We hope this brief guide has given you clarity on how to take your programmatic ads to the next level.