An Introduction to Programmatic

So what is Programmatic Advertising?

Programmatic, the buzzword that is probably flying around most marketing departments if not most businesses. But what is it? What does it all mean? Should you be using it? Well these are the questions that everyone tends to ask, and so they should because programmatic is essential to get right. With this blog, we hope to answer questions and settle uncertainties. This piece will be the first is a series of three articles on the subject. The aim is to give you a brief introduction.
 

How does programmatic work?

It is a type of advertising that has many misconceptions. We are here to put the story straight and back the programmatic corner, if you will.

When ad space is not directly purchased on a website it is placed into an auction. Programmatic is essentially the selling of this online ad space using automated technologies. Transactions in the auction style format allow advertisers to try and win ad space by bidding in real time (real time bidding).

The initial growth boom of programmatic seems to have slowed somewhat over the last couple of years, however it certainly isn’t going anywhere and has grown substantially in the past 5 years due to more and more people recognising its value. By 2019 65% of all digital media ad spend will be traded programmatically.
 

How does programmatic work?

This isn’t something that you necessarily need to know in detail, however it will help give you a rounded knowledge of the process and the value it brings. Programmatic relies heavily on 1st and 3rd party data. This data will be coming from a vast range of sources; it is the way in which programmatic makes use of this data that makes it so effective.

Programmatic has a wide reach, in the sense that your advert can appear on pretty much any website. Alongside this, the wide set of data points create a huge set of targeting categories. Additionally, algorithms take the data that is used and ‘learns’ from its performance. This in turn allows targeting to become more effective; it adapts to what has worked or not worked well before. Here it’s of note to say that targeting with this offering is a little different to say that of social media channels. The data that is used is assumed as opposed to being definite or stated by the user. It’s important to mention here that the flip side of this is that Facebook data can be out of date i.e. I ‘liked’ things 10 years ago that I probably aren’t interested in now.
 

Is programmatic for you?

This isn’t as cut and dry as many advertising options. Programmatic can work well for anyone and any type of business when executed correctly. This is because this type of advertising can be done so, totally in line with your requirements. It can be implemented with big or little spends, with a performance focus or alternatively a brand focus.

Something to bear in mind is that this advertising tends to reach a rather passive audience as this is not search based. This means that programmatic advertising can quickly rack up spend with little in return if it is done poorly. Thankfully however, there are techniques available to prevent this from happening. Essentially a combination of contextual, behavioural targeting, along with audience modelling and retargeting by a programmatic specialist will reduce the chance of not reaching the uninterested audiences.

There are some preconceptions we really need to clear up. Many are uncertain about programmatic due to the perceived lack of control when it comes to where your ads are placed. This is easily corrected by saying that there are numerous measures that can be used to ensure that your ads appear where you want them to or perhaps more importantly, not appearing where you do not want them to. You can purchase from certain private or premium networks. These will be networks that have several sites; you could appear on any of the sites, however they will all be relevant to your business, and more importantly will only be served to the right users. There are numerous other targeting options that will be covered in detail in our upcoming programmatic targeting blog. You can also simply whitelist sites, this means only appear on these sites. Conversely you also have the option to blacklist, meaning do not appear on these sites.

There are also concerns by many about ad fraud as it regularly gets attention in the news. What is not discussed so much is the numerous brand safety partners that have varying specialities. Additionally, Demand Site Platforms are increasingly having their own built in brand safety, viewability and verification. This helps to defend against bot clicks and bot impressions, track viewability and whether ads have been seen whether they are above or below the fold. Or put simply, making sure your ad appeared on a screen in front of a human.

We are obviously real advocates for programmatic. The ability to target using such vast amounts of data is a huge bonus for marketers and advertisers. In addition to this the ability to advertise on any site is an amazing opportunity for any business. The way that this advertising is growing screams volumes and shows exactly what the industry thinks of the platform. It is important to mention here that we can only see this option growing. There was a real concern by professionals that GDPR would really affect the data pools that this marketing relies on, however this simply didn’t happen. The accept option that you see when you enter websites is the button that was expected to damage the platform. However in reality, many people simply click accept to avoid the maze of hoops that you have to jump through to edit your ad preferences on each site. For more information keep an eye on our blog for future programmatic discussion.
 

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