5 Steps To Jump-Starting Your Programmatic Strategy


How do you unleash the benefits of programmatic advertising? Columnist Melody Gambino offers some key steps to get you started.

By Melody Gambino


Let’s assume that brand marketers have now presumably woken up to the necessity of aprogrammatic media strategy.

All those stragglers have now booked their tickets on the programmatic express but are understandably trepidatious because of the complex technology and the bewildering terminology used to explain it.

Here are five key considerations that will get you on the right path.

1. Choosing Your DSP

For most advertisers, the path to programmatic begins with the choice of your demand-side-platform (DSP).

A DSP is the minimum technology you need for effective programmatic buying. The major DSPs all have fairly comparable feature sets.

Having a clear view on your programmatic marketing objectives will help you see past the marketing positioning to select the right one for you. A good DSP must be transparent in their capabilities and data sources. Here are the key questions to ask:

  • Ad Serving: Frequency capping, dayparting and targeting capabilities are all minimum requirements. A good ad server should also offer brand-safe filters, keyword targeting, impression audits, page level verifications and hyper-segment targeting based on content and behaviors.
  • Intelligent Bidding: Do they offer detailed graphing of bid-price-to-win ratios and tools to adjust bidding?
  • Managed Services: Actual human support of the software is vital, as many brand teams are still novices and need assistance for campaign set-up and maintenance. Are there minimum spends to receive that service?
  • Automated Optimization – Avoid black box opacity in your DSP. You should understand how and when optimizations happen. Can the DSP handle thousands of targeting and data facets, outcomes and performance scenarios?
  • Inventory: Every DSP should plug into all major inventory exchanges and supply-side platforms (SSPs). A great DSP will have access to mobile in-app, pre-roll video, and a select few have access to FBX. This gives your campaigns the biggest potential and widens your inventory pool to achieve scale and broad reach while using the most niche targeting parameters.

2. Choosing Data Partners

Data-driven marketing is all the rage in programmatic media, but beware that not all data partners are equal, especially as it relates to the varying accuracy of third-party data sets. How do they collect data? Do they go beyond cookie-based tracking, which doesn’t work on mobile? Do they track offline activity including sales?

How many times does a user have to take a specific action to be identified as a segment? How often is the data refreshed? Can their cookie pools be synched to your DSP? A data partner should be able to clearly articulate the value of their data and how it will assist you in targeting your campaign to achieve your KPIs.

3. Metrics That Matter

Upon setting the KPIs for any individual campaign, you should then work backwards from your goals to see which measurements align. With direct response campaigns, that connection is obviously a lot easier to draw. The goals usually relate to online actions, and those are directly measurable most of the time.

Branding can be trickier, but it’s always measurable. Say your campaign is trying to elevate the visibility of your cosmetics brand. You create beautiful ads, which are displayed on media bought through the best DSP, and you targeted the campaign by selecting a data partner that will make your ads welcome. How do you know if it was a success when you can’t track offline behavior?

Forget CTR. Try measuring brand recall through a qualitative study; any lift in branded search results; increased site traffic; a spike in page views/duration on site; keyword reporting; and greater social media chatter.

If you are running rich media creative, you can track and optimize to a host of other metrics, including time spent watching a video, playing a game, or sharing elements of the ad on social channels.

4. Creativity

I’ve already preached why creativity has a strong place in programmatic, so I won’t repeat myself. Suffice to say that programmatic is all about delivering the right message to the right audience at the right time.

Programmatic will give your creative team the data they need to improve branding messages and make them more personally relevant. Using audience, contextual and environmental signals, you can create highly impactful dynamic creative that performs to each audience segment.

5. Post-Buy Analysis

The programmatic opportunity can only be fully exploited if there is a strong post-campaign reporting and analytics system. The feedback loop is faster, and adjustments can be made in real-time. If your campaign is driving in-store traffic with a coupon download, you can monitor that progress and make immediate adjustments to targeting and segmentation parameters to maximize your media spend.

Your predictive modeling engine and analytics suite will align all your data to your campaign’s success and make better decisions in the future — future meaning tomorrow, not in the next quarter. Expect robust consumer and creative insights, comparative performance by line items (daypart, weather), contextual and audience segment performance, and channel insights.

Though the technology is complex, if you understand what you are trying to achieve, you can rise above these complexities and reap the benefits of programmatic advertising.