A mash-up of a Jimmy Kimmel joke and an Ad Age article delivered the most insightful commentary on programmatic marketing.
“ ‘Programmatic buying is the gluten of advertising,’ Kimmel quipped during ABC’s network roast. Like gluten, ‘programmatic’ has become a buzzword that many people use but few really understand. They just know it’s important. For some reason.”
They nailed it—at least, based on the mountains of content written to explain today’s hottest buzzword (present company included).
All joking aside, programmatic marketing is in an unusual growth stage. It’s the least understood marketing strategy, yet it’s the fastest growing. According to Forrester and the Association of National Advertisers, 67 percent of companies are unaware of it, don’t understand it or need to learn more before using it.
And yet Magna Global has projected that worldwide programmatic ad spending will reach $32.6 billion by 2017, with the United States accounting for 50 percent of that.
What’s more, programmatic marketing is not just growing, but also delivering results for the intrepid early adopters. Here are examples:
While some marketers are posting enviable results using programmatics, others are still asking: What is it? In Kimmel’s roast of the network ad execs, he went on to say: “Programmatic sales will do the same job you do without wasting seven hours on Facebook.” Ouch! Sometimes the truth hurts.
But the truth also cuts to the chase. And Kimmel got to the heart of programmatics: Programmatic marketing was born out of the necessity for efficiency and scale in transacting online advertising.
According to Duncan Chapple of Lighthouse: “Traditional advertising, especially when placed through ad networks, put marketing managers on uncertain ground. Who saw the ads, why, and at what cost were largely concealed from managers as well as from their customers. Programmatic overturns most of those obstacles.”
So why is programmatic working so well for early adopters? HubSpot says because “being bombarded with irrelevant ads online is extremely irritating for busy consumers. Using programmatics, buyers are served ads based on their wants, needs, preferences and more. This means that as leads traverse the buyers’ journey, the ads they see are more relevant and more valuable at each touchpoint.”
However, for all its hype and genuine opportunities, programmatic presents marketers with many challenges—starting with learning new skills. It “represents a major shift in the skill set for both end-clients and marketing agencies. That produces challenges for the development and recruitment of advertising professionals, and opens up opportunities for the gaps to be filled by consultancies with more quantitative skills,” said Chapple.
The best way to answer that question is to go to the source: In other words, go to today’s emerging experts in programmatic marketing who have clear ideas on exactly what companies need to do to successfully ride the programmatic popularity wave like pros. Here are five of those insights.
Programmatic marketing requires a shift in perspective, says Rocket Fuel, a programmatic marketing platform provider. “A ‘change’ mind-set requires a change agent. Precisely because programmatic buying is a dramatic change from segment-based buying, whether in digital or traditional media, many marketing organizations discover significant internal resistance to embracing programmatic buying.
“In practice, this means that they need a change agent in the organization to teach marketers why programmatic buying matters. This person needs to generate the buy-in that motivates the company to build or buy the new skill sets and run successful pilot programs to inspire organizational confidence.”
Before you even start planning, “Decide on your KPIs [key performance indicators], in other words, what will you look at to evaluate your campaign's performance,” advises SourceKnowledge, a programmatic advertising solution company.
KPIs could include variables impacting brand lift, audience reach and engagement. “You’ll want to sort your KPIs in an order that makes sense for your brand, by how often you’ll measure them and which goals you absolutely need to hit. Set goals for each KPI you have selected and set the number or range you need to hit. These goals will then be the benchmark for you as you go forward.”
When it comes down to programmatic ad execution, Google says what works in other marketing avenues is also important in programmatic—including designing compelling creative.
“Bringing a brand to life in digital means bridging the power of technology with the impact of creative,” says Google. “At the heart of brand advertising is a great story told with compelling creative. Audience insights fuel creative development, and technology ensures it works across screens. By harnessing the power of technology to develop relevant, engaging experiences, brands elevate their appeal and, ultimately, get rewarded with brand love.”
Marketers should onboard CRM data in digital programmatic advertising channels for a specific campaign, says ProgrammaticAdvertising.org, a community of marketers using programmatic marketing. Data onboarding is “all about matching online and offline metrics to better understand customers and their needs.”
“Integrating the CRM data to advertise across programmatic advertising channels is critical for marketers who want to reach their target audience consistently over time. Customers give the onboarding company their customer data tied to postal addresses and emails. The onboarding company is typically in partnership with several hundred websites where users log on. The CRM data is tied to the user’s browser. Whenever a customer from the CRM file is recognized, a match occurs, and a relevant ad is displayed.”
Some marketers have developed fears about programmatic marketing that are related to paid search issues, namely, is paying for branded words worth the cost. Testing is the key to making a decision.
“Many search marketers respond with fears of competitors controlling their brand keywords,” stated MediaPost, a publishing company. “But seasoned veterans run tests, pausing branded terms for a period of time to see if organic listings pick up the slack. Most of the time, these tests show the inherent value of branded terms—though sometimes they don’t. As with branded keywords, the true value of programmatic media can only be found by testing and proving it works.”
Amid all of the expert advice, many marketers are still left wondering when and if they should dive into programmatic marketing. Like any paradigm shift, programmatic marketing makes the best inroads when the cost of change for marketers is perceived to be lower than the cost of not changing. That time is clearly now for many organizations—and potentially more in the near future, if growth predictions play out as forecasted.