Now that programmatic digital advertising has arrived on the scene, it's garnering more attention and attracting more media dollars. When you have mainstream financial services companies like American Express contemplating the shift of their entire online ad budget to programmatic media, you know you're on to something.1
Of course, the skyrocketing growth of programmatic advertising is not exactly a big surprise, since this platform's capabilities promise marketers a glimpse of the Holy Grail of marketing:
Getting the right message to the right person at precisely the right time.
What's Not to Like About That?
The basic appeal of this approach is its efficiency. Programmatic advertising helps reduce wasted ad dollars by allowing for the ongoing measurement of each ad's effectiveness, telling you which ads are attracting the most attention and driving the most activity. Better still, you can learn more about who's responding and then customize your online presence—in real time—by the variable of your choice.
For example, because your ad messages can be versioned by geography, demographics or online behavior, you can deliver thousands of potential messaging combinations, all generated automatically. Ultimately, as you monitor who's responding best to which ads by tracking when and where the ads run, you are able to deliver targeted versions of your message accordingly.
Of course, nothing in this world is perfect. So, like everything else, programmatic advertising comes with a caveat or 10. Chief among them is the need to closely track placements to ensure that you get what you paid for. For example, there is the risk that your ad placements ended up on pages that were contextually inappropriate for your brand—or that they did not run at all. Anecdotes of brand-damaging placements or "phantom" placements that never actually occurred are among the uncertainties that have tainted the programmatic space.
Consider This Scenario
Think of the advantages you gain by serving up your brand message and product offer to investors at precisely the right time—when they're actively researching their next investment move.
Let's say you offer an investment product that seeks to provide downside protection during falling markets, and you know there are investors out there who have a preference for this type of product. Clearly, there's no better time to talk to them about your product than when they sense that the value of their investments is at risk.
Seizing the opportunity, you deploy programmatic advertising to optimize the placement and positioning of your online advertising to target these investors and reach them at a time when they are highly responsive to messages that make references to greater portfolio stability—for example, when they visit a website for advice on how to weather periods of falling markets. To put it another way:
If you sell umbrellas, your programmatic media buys can be targeted to push out weather-specific advertising to targeted ZIP codes during a thunderstorm. So, if you sell investments, why not target your digital ad buys according to stock market activity...or bond yields...or commodities prices...or interest rate movements?
In essence, programmatic media lets you create microtargeted ads for each audience segment to increase ROI and maximize your results. To simplify matters, it's an approach that's fully automated and transparent, so it is imminently measurable—from click to engagement to conversion.
In fact, entire campaigns can be optimized over time as you test and learn from each programmatic ad placement. For example, you may find that there are subsets within an audience that are more valuable to target than others or that certain placements or serving criteria are more effective than others. These learnings can then be used to adjust the algorithms that are used to execute the campaign.
Linking Placement to Proclivity
With this in mind, you can structure your programmatic advertising to put your message in front of your target audience when they are most receptive to what you have to say. Your placement and timing will vary, but consider these questions to help you put a plan in place:
By paying attention to relevant factors, you can zero in on the target audiences you seek, guided by their actual online activity, response patterns and demographic/geographic traits. Best of all, programmatic advertising makes the process essentially automatic and highly efficient. That's why the use of this tool is expanding quickly and why it's ripe with possibility.
Blue Flame Thinking is ready to help you explore the advantages of programmatic advertising and how it can be used to connect with highly promising prospects when they're ready to take action. Contact Steve Schmieder at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 312-327-5120 to learn more.
 “The Programmatic Revolution: How Technology Is Transforming Marketing,” Google and Doubleclick, September 2014, page 10.