An Introduction to Programmatic

Every business works hard to get their messages out to potential customers. Most of them do it on their own because they also act as their own marketing departments.

Even those who see the ability of online marketing to reach new customers may not know what tools are available or how to get started.

We’ve helped grow digital strategies for our clients by building the foundation – particularly in organic search – while setting review and email strategies. As these three core tactics take root, a process that takes time and content, we step next to into online advertising to speed the process and reach a wider audience.

There are 3 basic forms of online advertising used by most businesses today, and the first two are dominated by the giants of the internet:

  • Search Engine Marketing (mostly Adwords)
  • Social Media Advertising (mostly Facebook Ads)
  • Programmatic Advertising (everything else)

Essentially, Google and Facebook are so big, online advertisers are required to go direct. Google web sites (including YouTube) are the most visited sites on the planet, while Facebook commands the lion’s share of time spent by consumers online.

They continue to venture into each other’s established territory. Google takes steps to keep consumers on Google, serving answers and content instead of sending searchers to other websites. Facebook increasingly is refining its own internal search engine. Their ad-serving tools are available to everyone, but with their increasing complexity, it’s good to have help to manage them.

For the rest of the world there is programmatic, essentially data-driven online ad exchanges that buy remnant display advertising space on almost every website and app out there in online auctions that last milliseconds. Ever noticed local ads on national websites or ads that followed you around the internet? That’s programmatic.

Google’s Doubleclick platform is one of the largest programmatic players, but not the only one. One of the most prominent ad exchanges, OpenX, was developed by an Omaha native. Nearly every website or app serving ads is part of at least one, if not many of these exchanges.

The publishers behind any website or app will try to sell their best inventory direct, normally at a higher price than what the exchanges will pay. The rest of their inventory goes to programmatic, sold in real time bidding (RTB) to programmatic advertisers. According to industry experts like Digiday, eMarketer and ZenithMedia, programmatic will be the fastest growing market in advertising for the foreseeable future, beating both Adwords and Facebook ads.

There are a few things to understand about programmatic advertising.

Programmatic advertising delivers online display ads to a target market on any device, anywhere at any time. These ads generally will appear in three places: on any web page, within any app or at the start of any video.

Whether your potential customers use computers, smart phones or tablet, you can reach them when they will be most willing to accept your message. The online tools you use will depend on the products and services offered by your business.

Your potential customers can be targeted for messages based upon their IP addresses, location and many other variables. Programmatic advertising can display messages to potential customers who are more likely to respond based on prior online behavior, such as searches and purchases.

Here are some examples:

  • A small business sells golf clubs. They want to reach potential customers who search online for golf supply stores.
  • A car dealership wants its ads to show up on mobile devices when potential customers are near competing dealerships.
  • A new coffee shop wants to target potential customers anytime they visit nearby competitors.

As a small business owner, you can decide when and how your messages reach potential customers:

  • Frequency targeting: Control the number of times your message can be viewed.
  • Content targeting: Target only those potential customers interested in your particular product or service.
  • Day targeting: Control what time of day your messages can be displayed.
  • Behavioral targeting: Target those who already demonstrated interest in your products or services with their online behavior.
  • Demographic targeting: Target a specific age/income/gender of your potential customers.
  • Geographic targeting: Choose a location or radius for your potential customers to receive the message.

Such programmatic approaches result in better responses to your advertising campaigns and increased revenue for you and your small business. Reaching the right people means less of your marketing time and advertising dollars get wasted.

These creative, targeted marketing methods take the guesswork out of reaching prospective customers who already desire your products and services. Behind all of the technology, however, are real people and real relationships. Not all exchanges are equal. We’ve won customers like the University of Nebraska-Kearny with our side-by-side comparisons.

In fact, we can tell within minutes of looking at your website whether we have a programmatic provider that can deliver better results. More in our next installment on how to track the programmatic players.