The world of display marketing has never been more complex. The sheer breadth of display options, through to the extent of social media opportunities has led marketers to feel overwhelmed. And it’s going to get worse as new technologies continue to flood the market.
Those marketers looking to adopt programmatic buying frequently find themselves battling with terms such as big data, RTB, ad exchanges, ad networks, PMPs and DSPs, all offering potential solutions to their brand’s display needs, yet none offering clarity.
While programmatic buying is now widely talked about within the industry, few marketers are truly adept at deploying it. This has a lot to do with the fact that marketers now need to consider a different approach to advertising and carefully consider the processes needed to support a programmatic approach.
There are two key issues at stake. The first is how this inventory and buying technology is used from a creative perspective. The second one centres around the buying channels and tools adopted to ensure your approach is agnostic and is not limiting your campaign’s potential.
How Programmatic Affects Content
To start with, let’s address why marketers need to produce different sets of content for programmatic buying. Programmatic is about targeting and specificity, which leads to efficiency and scale. At the very heart of the process is the campaign’s creative. Just as a car’s tyres are the only thing in contact with the road, creative is the only part of the programmatic machine your customers see. This makes creative a key component for successful campaigns. Simply, the more targeted your creative messaging can be, the better.
RTB solutions are adept at building profiles of your customers and then finding more of them, but the value can only be properly maximised if this additional level of contextual relevance is carried through into the creative. Ads now need to be customised to fit the parameters required by specific inventory and customers.
As a consequence, marketers need to take a different approach to advertising. They need to be prepared for a multitude of scenarios, which means flipping the model and the execution of content on their heads, serving what the customer wants rather than devising a creative strategy around a brand or specific commercial objective.
There are fairly common applications when it comes to retargeting potential customers who have visited but left the site. These include serving viewed products in banners dynamically or upselling higher premium products to customers who have initially been attracted by entry level products. Taking this further though there are opportunities to better personalise the brand messages to new prospects as well as to lapsed customers.
The Importance Of Segmentation And Content
Prospecting new customers is a fraught and potentially wasteful exercise if segmentation and creative content aren’t first carefully considered. However, it is possible to effectively devise customer segments and relevant creative messaging for bespoke targeting using existing customer data.
Customer data can be easily segmented according to a variety of variables such as purchase value, booking information, method of payment, frequency of purchase etc. This data can be used to group customers into bespoke segments from which look-a-like profiles can be built to find more customers that fit that profile, using RTB.
The likely purchasing habits of these customers enable marketers to develop precise prospecting creatives that will have an increased click and conversion propensity compared with serving a standard ad. This approach opens up a multitude of testing and evolutionary tactics that can allow marketers to steal a march on their competitors.
Thinking Beyond The First Interaction
The effectiveness of the first interaction is where display currently excels, however it frequently does not exploit it any further. This is why by trying to get programmatic to align with their traditional marketing objectives, marketers frequently miss key opportunities and potentially lose valuable new customers. Certainly there is an increasing need for planners to integrate the intricacies of running technology-centric campaigns into the overall planning, otherwise time can be wasted assessing which creative and technical components work best for a specific campaign.
This is where the technical side needs to work more closely with marketers to ensure a seamless process - something which is easily solved through an intelligent programmatic and RTB solution.
An Agnostic Approach To Technology
The other issue requires breadth of access. A truly impactful campaign will only occur when live insights into the strengths and weaknesses of all RTB platforms on the market have been assessed.
Aggregating inventory and audience data are complex processes. To deliver campaigns on a repeated basis, using these processes, requires technology, or at least focused, specialised operations.
However taking an agnostic approach to technology, one which plugs a brand in to all the main RTB engines, will deliver rapid access to multiple RTB algorithms and technologies at any one time.
To understand why this is important it’s vital to understand the RTB landscape. There are 10 to 15 serious RTB/DSP technologies in the market today. To a large extent they all access the same inventory--around 20bn daily impressions--but they all have their own way of targeting these customers.
Some advocate ‘hands-off, our RTB algorithm will do the work for you’ approach, while others lean towards more manual interventions to fine-tune the targeting. The consequence is that in practice they all find different customers. Cannibalisation and bidding against yourself are often put forward as counter to this, but with 20bn daily impressions seen by the RTB vendors the overlap is next to nothing.
Winning The Battle For Visibility
The other important point to counter this view is that whether marketers are prospecting or retargeting, they are still involved in an auction. Customers visiting dozens of websites a day, with nearly all fitted with their own retargeting pixels, show just how important it is to win the battle for visibility.
That’s not to say a multi-partner approach is the Holy Grail. It needs to be set up and managed well to limit cannibalisation and only used to add incremental value. This can be done through a number of techniques that control and provide equality, such as prioritisation with cookies, setting budgets or CPM caps for retargeting.
The key is to ask the right questions of the data produced by programmatic platforms in order to combine increased efficiency with effectiveness.
CMOs need to go back to the drawing board and spend time finding out how people actually make decisions. Ultimately display marketing is not just about technology; small subtle changes to messaging, calls to action and imagery can have big impacts on ad engagement and interaction, which is where the true value of refining the campaign as the market data is continually evaluated comes into play.