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Programmatic Marketing: What You Need to Know Before 2016

By Jessy SmulskiNov 6, 2015

programmatic-marketing-2According to a Forrester survey, 40 percent of marketers in 2014 had no clue what programmatic marketing was. Since then, the term “programmatic” has exploded on the marketing scene, and marketer buy-in has meant an estimated $5 billion growth from 2014 to 2015. Programmatic marketing is here to stay, and it’s changing everything about how we see and do marketing.

The frontrunners already know the power of programmatic marketing, hence its recent and dramatic gain in popularity (and their status in the race). By 2016, 70 percent of the total U.S. digital display spend will be programmatic. And according to eMarketer, 83 percent of all ad buys will be programmatic by 2017.

Here’s what you need to know to step up your programmatic marketing game.

What is Programmatic Marketing?

Insight + Automation = Programmatic Marketing

Programmatic marketing is the use of automated technologies and big data to optimize the buying and selling of digital media across the Internet in real time.

How does it work?

Programmatic technology uses audience insights to deliver specific content to an individual based on where they are in the buyer's journey. In other words, it takes into account all the data collected from your social marketing campaigns, your CRM and any other persona cues you provide. As your target audience traverses the Internet, programmatic software is triggered by that real-time behavior, and the right message is automatically aligned with the right person, at the right time, in the right place, for the right price—within microseconds. It’s a superfecta!

Painting the picture…

Take The New York Times, for example. In the past, the ads you saw on its home page were predetermined. Today, the majority of those ads are being placed as your browser is loading the page. Companies like AdRoll or MediaMath can bid on ads using information like where you exist geographically, what type of computer you’re using, and your browsing history to serve you an ad that you’ll want to click on.

For advertisers, it’s about having the ability to target at scale. The vast majority of people window-shopping online aren’t going to make a purchase on their first visit. Programmatic marketing allows marketers to continue serving the shopper with ads, even after they stop directly engaging, and the algorithms and predictive logic that makes programmatic marketing possible helps marketers decide the best price to bid.

Why Do Marketers Need Programmatic Marketing?

Most marketers will be adopting this technology (if they haven't already) over the next couple of years, leaving those who don’t falling behind. And there’s much more to it than that.

Manual media buying has become impossible to do effectively—there is simply too much data to collect from too many channels to convert it all into precisely the right marketing action in real time. Manual media buying leaves you constantly chasing leads instead of getting out in front of them. And all that running around leaves little time or motivation for creativity.

Programmatic removes the chaos, takes out the middle man, and simplifies the process for marketers so less time is spent on getting campaigns up and running, and more time is spent on creating and assessing truly ingenious media pieces. Here’s a short list of reasons why you should start implementing programmatic marketing:

  1. PM Enables You to Hyper Target
    You already know which companies make the best customers. But what do you know about the core group of individuals within these companies who make all the decisions? Using programmatics, you can input persona information and tailor your messaging for specific individuals. 
  2. PM Allows You to Reach Businesses in Unexpected Places 
    You probably already know which professional websites your target personas visit, but what about their other interests? Instead of flooding the places every other marketer is already washing out, programmatic marketing empowers you to pop up in unexpected places.
  3. PM Gives You Variety
    Display ads are effective. But what about mobile, video and native ads? These inventories are available for use through programmatic marketing and are becoming more affordable (although they are still more expensive).
  4. PM is Cost-Efficient 
    Programmatics utilizes first- and third-party data to refine targeting and reach specific individuals. That means you won’t pay for impressions that don’t meet this target range and there’s less wasted spend. Programmatic marketing also gives you the ability to adjust bids for specific media placements depending on real-time data that illustrates media effectiveness.

What You Need to Know About Programmatics to See Success in 2016

Now that you get what programmatic marketing is and why it’s such a valuable addition to your marketing strategy, here’s what you need to know about current and future trends.

Changes Can Be Made Mid-Campaign

Programmatic marketing allows you to cast your ads across the Internet and, if you don’t like how a campaign is performing, change details mid-campaign. You can switch the target geography, time of day, audience segment, publisher, and more.

It’s Not Just for Direct-Response Campaigns

TV, radio and Web television inventory is becoming a part of the collateral, and that’s garnering major attention from brand marketers. For example, marketers can serve a commercial to a buyer via their TV at home, and follow it up with a display ad online that reaches them on their desktop at work or on their mobile device while traveling.

Marketers are Taking Programmatic Marketing In-House

Self-service programmatic solutions can be less expensive than managed services, and many marketers feel hosting software in-house is the best way to protect their data. Ultimately, it comes down to control. But right now, in-house programmatics isn’t feasible for all organizations. Larger brands have the budget and manpower while smaller brands still struggle with cost and resources.

Mobile Devices Are an Issue

New research shows that 80 percent of all adults own a smartphone, and 75 percent use them to search the Internet. The problem is programmatic marketing relies heavily on behavior-tracking cookies (small files placed on the buyer’s computer that store data about their online activity). These cookies trigger programmatic ad buying, but they don’t work well on mobile devices because individuals may use more than one mobile device (and multiple apps or browsers), making it difficult for programmatic software to identify individuals.

Social Networks Are Taking Control

Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn started absorbing programmatic ad-tech companies from the start. Their goal is to sell ads across the Web (not just within their own platforms). They make a unique contender in the programmatic ring because they collect volumes of login data, which allows them to connect user identities across devices (helping to solve the above challenge).

Security Concerns and Programmatic Marketing

One cybercrime to keep an eye on with programmatic marketing is URL masking (or domain masking), which is like having your mail sent to an unknown P.O. box. A publisher lists its website in the ad exchanges under a pseudonym, and the buyer has no way of knowing where their ads are actually running.

Do It for Your Buyers

Programmatic marketing allows you to be responsive to your buyers’ wants and needs as they are being expressed in real time. It takes into account everything you know about your target personas, and delivers the perfect message per individual. This creates a one-to-one connection that helps brands engage with buyers in a way never before imagined.

 Because it’s all automated, marketers can spend more time on the creative side of advertising. Most importantly, programmatic marketing is completely measurable so you can prove ROI and identify which ads perform best. By adding programmatic technology to their wish list this year, marketers can gear up for what’s sure to be an exciting New Year!

PIVOTING YOUR PLAN with Inbound Marketing

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Jessy Smulski
The Author

Jessy Smulski

Jessy is a professional creative writer with over 8 years of experience working with businesses, marketing agencies, news papers, and magazines. Intrinsically empathetic, her talent is transforming the experiences of others into meaningful recounts that connect brands with customers, readers with stories and words with purpose. She also specializes in brand development and content marketing. When she’s not creating content, you can find her snowboarding out west, backpacking or capturing life through the lens of her camera. She takes her coffee black, her wine red and her books non-digital. Catch Jess on LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter @Jsmuls.
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