What is Programmatic Advertising

Have you ever been surfing the waves of the world-wide web and were served an advertisement that made you say, “Wow, that’s really applicable to me and my everyday life!”? That’s Programmatic Advertising. But that may be an oversimplification. Let’s dive deeper. 


Programmatic Advertising is a method of buying and selling advertising inventory in an automated and data-driven way with the help of software and algorithms. It allows you the ability to laser-target your audience by things like their gender, their interests, demographics, behaviors and even based on where a consumer lives or where they’ve recently (or not so recently) been. 


One of the biggest advantages of programmatic advertising is that you can reach the right audience at the right time, which can increase your chance at achieving the holy grail–conversions.  Sounds easy, right? Hold on, there’s more that goes into the programmatic stew to make it tasty. To be effective at programmatic advertising, there are a few things that you need to do first to prepare your marketing campaign (and your sanity) success. 


The is honestly the first step in any marketing effort, but if you haven’t already done so, you’ll need to define your target audience. This means really understanding who your customers are, what they’re interested in, and where they spend their time online. While you may have to make some educated guesses, always look towards any data that you have in your reach to help guide these answers from the outside in, rather than guessing what you think is correct. 


Programmatic advertising is marketing, and marketing is expensive. While programmatic advertising can be a more cost-effective method to disseminate your message to the targeted masses, it’s important that you identify a comfortable budget you’re willing to let disappear in the ether while your campaign gets up and running and you have enough performance data to optimize. One of the benefits to programmatic advertising is that you can set your bid price based on your budget, and the system will automatically adjust your bids to ensure you get the best value for your money. 


Programmatic advertising is EVERYWHERE, and it’s important to choose the right platform for your business. Look for platforms that offer the features and targeting options you need, as well as one that’s easy to use and integrates with your existing advertising tools.


One of the great things programmatic advertising affords to marketers is that you can monitor the performance of the campaign in real-time. This means that you can adjust your bids and targeting options as needed to ensure you’re getting the best possible results. Make sure you monitor your campaign regularly to ensure its hitting the goals you’ve set for the campaign. But don’t fall into the trap of over-optimizing. Allow the campaign enough time to generate sound performance data before turning the campaign over on its head.


Programmatic advertising offers a wealth of data and metrics that can help you better understand how your campaign is performing for you. It’s important to understand what these metrics mean and how they relate to your business goals. Some important metrics include clickthrough rates, conversion rates, and cost-per-acquisition. All of these metrics are ROAS-facing and should serve you well in helping guide your decision making. 


I was proposing a holistic marketing strategy to a prospective client, and I brought up the word, “experiment”. His eyes got big, face became red, and a frumpy gasp rang out of his mouth in disgust at the idea that we would need to spend budget to experiment. But the truth is that even the savviest of marketers will need to experiment to see what targeting and platform mix for your campaign will work best for you. Programmatic advertising (and most marketing as a whole) is custom, and seeing what works, what doesn’t, and making decisions on how to optimize the campaign to increase performance will require experimenting. You can test different targeting options, ad formats, ad creatives and bidding strategies to see what recipe works best for you.


Programmatic advertising can be a powerful tool to complement mid and bottom-funnel marketing efforts, but it’s not a silver bullet that will put a line out the door and around the corner. Digital marketing is a swampy space, and you’ll need to know how to navigate bot-attacks, low propensity consumers, and a doctrine of rules and guidelines in order to effectively market your campaign. To do it right so your budget works for you will take time, patience and lots of practice and testing. And bonus points if you consult with a Digital Marketing professional to get some initial guidance. You’ll thank me later.