No matter how long you’ve been doing this, it can happen: your Paid Media can get stagnant. It’s happened to me. The Search campaigns are humming along but not necessarily growing. You’ve found every relevant search query under the sun, and your negative keyword list is tight enough to keep most bad searches out. You’re tweaking your audiences, demographics, and ad scheduling to make sure performance maintains despite additional competition and Google’s ever rising Cost Per Click (oh so that’s how their stock price keeps going up). You’re dipping a toe into Google Display Network, but between surges of bad traffic and another 10k impressions on Candy Crush you can’t be sure it’s working for you. Your campaigns need a new advantage.


Enter Programmatic Advertising

I was a skeptic at first – why should we pay data fees just to reach the same inventory I’m already buying through the Google Display Network? Our partners at Centro taught me that I was looking at this completely the wrong way—data is the difference in effective display advertising and ‘spray and pray’ display advertising. The data is the difference in getting marketing campaign ads in front of the right people and is vital in measuring advanced KPIs. In addition, the amount and scale of data available through programmatic advertising (versus standard paid media advertising) vastly exceeds what we could do independently.


Expanded Inventory

Sure, the Google Display Network is a huge network. Assuming that gets you a full reach, however, is incorrect, especially with regards to premium inventory. Many publishers are also selling their inventory programmatically, so they’re working with multiple networks to sell their impressions to the right people. The old way of setting a static CPC or CPM and negotiating directly with premium inventory just isn’t going to get you there. Buying in to partnering with a programmatic platform increases your reach farther than you’d be able to efficiently negotiate on your own.


Want to learn more about Programmatic Advertising versus PPC Advertising? Check out the slides from our recent Beer + Learn here.


Programmatic platforms also have built-in brand safety and ad fraud measures that you’re not going to get on your own. Buying placements directly just isn’t a large enough scale to incentivize partners to protect their traffic. Programmatic buys will use the same data algorithms and machine learning utilized to find the right consumers to know if clicks are coming from bots or if the content of a placement isn’t brand safe.


Smarter Ad Targeting

Google Display Network targeting options have come a long way from when I began doing this. I’ll typically target based on Audience features rather than Placements & Topics – delivery to the right person is more important than what it is they’re reading. As a strategy, this is pretty good. But pretty good isn’t what this blog is about.


For my strategies, Programmatic ad buys bring Contextual targeting back into play. The reason for this is we can get much more specific with what types of content we want to target compared to the pre-selected Topics provided by Google.


Programmatic also brings Geofencing into the picture. Geofencing is a type of ad targeting where people within a digital boundary (or a fence, if you will) can be reached with digital advertising. This digital boundary will typically be places of purchase—retailers, your location, or your competitor’s location. And rather than a halo around the location (1km at the most specific), you can draw polygons aligning with the border of your selected location. Programmatic advertising can also set up conversion actions based on geofences—so if someone saw your ad and walked into your store, that can be measured as a KPI.


Finally, there’s Audience Targeting. Most strategies will include Retargeting, which you can do on other networks but not reach as many placements as you can on Programmatic. Programmatic will also analyze your current visitors and customers to create similar audiences based on real time behavior to scale your campaigns. In addition, your Programmatic partner will be tapped into other data providers to effectively predict future purchase behavior. The key here is to know your audience could be looking for your product before they start looking for it to gain their consideration.



And the biggest thing that led to the evolution of my Display Advertising strategy was the results. From a direct response perspective, I had always been of the mindset that Remarketing will get you some results, and anything placed broader than that is simply a high funnel play. My experience so far with Programmatic buys has shown that you can and should expect tangible results from your Display Advertising.


One of our recent campaigns was using Programmatic as well as Search to target very niche B2B segments for lead generation. What we found was Programmatic had more scale—we were able to define the audience better for a product they didn’t know enough about to search for. As a result, we achieved 5x as many results as we did for Search. While Programmatic achieving better results than a Search campaign is not going to be a typical outcome, it’s proof of concept that it’s possible to achieve winning results.


Moving Forward

So I bet you’re wondering “If you handed all the ad trafficking over to machines, what exactly are you doing all day?” Totally valid! And the answer is that by automating your targeting and trafficking, it allows you time to focus on content, strategy, and optimizations. Yes, optimizations—the machines aren’t totally in control, you still have to optimize. This includes making budget decisions to push traffic to the best performing channels, segment the data to create new targets, and make sure you’re bidding to win traffic on the best placements. You are now free to update your ad creative & landing pages more often to make sure you’re pushing a winning message.


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