What is Programmatic Marketing?

A Workable Definition of Programmatic Marketing

While it’s true that programmatic marketing can be an extremely effective and scalable method of connecting with a wider and more targeted audience, it is also arguably one of the most difficult forms of marketing to navigate.

Even media buyers themselves sometimes struggle to give a succinct explanation of programmatic marketing when they are asked about how it works.

The simplest definition one could give of programmatic marketing is automated ad-buying that is targeted to a specific audience.

Seems fairly black and white, right? Not quite! Programmatic marketing and the environment/market within which it operates and functions involves numerous variables. These variables can sometimes make it difficult to navigate supply, choose the best partners, and build out a bidding strategy that is infallible. Whether you’re a novice programmatic marketer, just starting to demystify the world of programmatic advertising or a skillful veteran media buyer, this article will give you an idea of some of the core principles that are key to understanding programmatic marketing.

Focus your budget and keep testing

Programmatic Marketing is no easy slog. It requires patience, creativity and the ability to analyze and understand large amounts of data. It’s crucial that you figure out what your goals will be for your campaign and use these as a reference for any strategic shifts or tactical adjustments you make throughout your campaign.

Some programmatic marketing experts might argue that a broader audience is the way to go at the beginning of any campaign since you don’t necessarily know which audience segment will respond best to your ads, and this is true in some cases. That said, if budget is limited, try testing on a smaller scale and then progressively increasing your spend, as you work out which audience segments are showing the strongest results in terms of click-through rates, conversions, engagement, and so on.

Programmatic marketing can be difficult to navigate at times, particularly when there are so many adjustable parameters for retargeting your audience. That said, you should find that after reinvesting your programmatic budget into the strongest audience segments, the data will eventually speak for itself.

Choosing the right Partners

This is hugely important. After setting your goals, you will need to look at demand and supply platforms. If you don’t know which demand-side platform to go with, here are some points to remember:

  • To maximise the performance of your campaign and get the best possible results, choose ad units that have high performance, and are served on premium publishing sites.
  • The DSP that you go with needs to be able to verify the traffic it receives. Otherwise, it should be able to use a third party vendor to certify websites.
  • It’s also crucial that your ads are served to users on sites that feature high-value content. While the old adage: you get what you pay for, doesn’t always ring true in programmatic marketing, in terms of the performance of various metrics throughout the campaign, the premium-priced DSPs can usually justify this added cost with a promise of brand security and higher CTRs/CVRs. Nevertheless, this is a generalisation and should not be applied as a rule of thumb. The takeaway here is to be cynical and critical over rates that are outlandishly low, as the inventory might be rubbish!
  • Next, it’s important to go with a supply-side platform that scrutinises publishers on their viewability rates. Google recently released a report that stated nearly 60% of all ads served on the Google Display Network are not actually viewed by anyone! You might be thinking, what’s the point if nobody actually views your ad, but in reality, it’s very possible to achieve near 100% viewability – it’s just a matter of finding the right partners to execute your programmatic marketing plan.

Create a bidding strategy

Now that you have made the decision about which platforms you will use for your programmatic marketing campaign, it’s important not to spend all your money at once. Shop around for the best deals before you go spending your limited finances.

The same can be said when creating a bidding strategy, as there are many different approaches a programmatic marketer can take:

  • Are you looking to enter at a fixed rate or a market rate?
  • Do you prefer to bid in real-time auction or do you want preference over certain inventory?
  • Is audience segmentation part of your strategy, or are you targeting based on the context of your ads?

You should try to answer these questions before launching your programmatic marketing strategy.