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How to do programmatic advertising

How to do programmatic advertising

Programmatic advertising automates media buying, allowing advertisers to show relevant ads to target audiences across websites, apps, and more. Instead of manual ad reservations, programmatic uses data and algorithms to optimize ad bids and placements at remarkable scale. Over 80% of digital display ads are now programmatically placed.

This revolutionized approach demonstrates significantly higher ROI versus conventional channels when executed competently. Entry barriers once existed regarding specialized skills needed operating ad exchanges present complexity. However, various self-service programmatic platforms greatly simplified running sophisticated data-driven campaigns yourself now. 

In this comprehensive beginner’s guide, we’ll demystify core programmatic concepts covering:

– Programmatic Advertising Basics 

– Major Programmatic Platforms

– Effective Campaign Practices

– Measuring Success and Optimizing

Grasping these foundational elements empowers advertisers tapping into powerful automation maximizing budget efficiency at daunting scale pragmatically. Let’s launch winning programmatic without needing an analytics degree!

Programmatic Advertising Explained

At its core, programmatic advertising leverages software automation to buy and sell digital ad inventory via real-time auctions. Instead of manually sourcing and reserving set ad slots with individual publishers, programmatic relies on complex algorithms crunching data variables to calculate and place optimal ads instantly across the open web.

Supply Side Platforms (SSPs) aggregate ad space inventory from publishers wishing to monetize website traffic. Data Exchange Platforms (DSPs) consolidate advertiser demand bidding to showcase ads in front of target users based on browsing data. Ad exchanges connect the supply inventory with advertiser demand enabling auctions determining winning bids and ad placements delivering desired actions.

Beyond immense scale, the personalized automation allows tweaking variables like audience segments, budgets, tracking pixels, frequency capping, and more across countless exchanges constantly optimizing performance. Testing ad variations on the fly identifies winning messages and creative empirically. Over time, machine learning continually refines targeting and bids hitting KPIs like cost per lead or purchase.

Getting over the initial learning curve, programmatic efficiency trounces conventional digital ads hands down. Now various self-serve platforms lower barriers implementing for small businesses lacking bigger analytical marketing expertise growing spend wisely.

Major Self-Serve Programmatic Platforms

Numerous recognizable advertising platforms incorporated programmatic capabilities for simplified access fulfilling digital advertising needs singularly now. Here are major channels where beginners can launch effective data-driven campaigns rather seamlessly. 

  1. Google Ads 

The advertising juggernaut provides automated programmatic media buying within existing Google Ads interface. Advertisers access Display & Video 360 demand-side platform directly showing ads on 2 million+ Google publisher sites. Smart campaigns utilize machine learning optimizing creative and landing pages proving higher conversions.

  1. Facebook 

Programmatic advertising on Facebook, Instagram and Audience Network zaps middlemen costs when directly sourcing inventory via its inner workings. Automate media buys targeting engaged audiences or traffic seeking audiences visiting sites related to your clients. Powerful analytics provide rich campaign insights.  

  1. Amazon DSP 

Amazon’s demand-side platform now rivals Google offering sophisticated but simplified programmatic solutions for brands seeking greater marketplace visibility. The self-service platform makes display, video and audio ads accessible to advertisers of all sizes managing high-performance omni-channel campaigns.

  1. The Trade Desk

Top independent DSP provides extensive publisher inventory access and robust analytics for brand awareness, consideration and sales objectives. Trade Desk allows hassle-free onboarding running powerful campaigns or migrating existing programmatic initiatives seamlessly to their independent platform. 

Essential Programmatic Campaign Best Practices

While the automation handles complex media buying optimizations, advertisers must still lay campaign foundations and governance to utilize programmatic successfully. Core elements impacting eventual performance include:  

Comprehensive Audience Building

Quality programmatic hinges on comprehensive audience understanding. Lookalike profiling tools model existing high-value visitors to find more similar people. Layer behavioural, contextual, geographic and demographic data building 360-degree customer views guiding message relevance. 

Ad Testing and Optimization 

Programmatic provides speed for rapid testing establishing what resonates through multiple variations. Experiment with phrasing, emotive creative styles, calls to action and layouts. Let data determine optimal performer. Continual testing improves future iterations and machine learning application. 

Goal Tracking Pixels 

Install programmatic bidder pixels on websites to precisely track meaningful conversions programmatic media ultimately aims producing. Customize tracking to match campaign focus whether newsletters signups or online purchases completed. Tracking sales data trains platforms forecasting lifetime value more accurately shaping future bid optimization.

Whitelist Publisher Placement 

Temper total automation by curating an approved publisher list ensuring brand safety. Programmatic exchanges incorporate fraud detection but risks remain showing alongside unsavory content inadvertently without vigilance. Pre-approve site lists programmatic platforms can access guarding brand integrity.

Analyze and Optimize Campaigns  

Programmatic provides immense amounts of granular performance data to learn from for boosting results. Which audiences and creative prove more effective? Why do conversions rise certain days more? Monitoring dashboards frequently then tweaks aspects like bid adjustments or location targeting responsive keeping budgets focused highest conversions cost-effectively. Software optimization suggestions based on learnings identify impactful optimizations frequently.

Measure and Improve Performance Metrics 

Choose metrics guiding campaign success aligned to objectives like new customer acquisition or newsletter subscriber growth rather than vague “impressions”. Define monetary values on conversions to calculate true ROI as well. Review analytics frequently optimizing bid amounts, ad positioning, creative tests and landing pages improving effective cost per lead or conversion over campaign lifespan.

Programmatic Journey Checklist

Following a gradual onboarding process ensures methodical adoption versus becoming quickly overwhelmed leveraging powerful capabilities untapped fully. We suggest this optimal sequence acclimating smoothly:

  • Research education on programmatic advertising foundations from resources like Programmatic.com. 
  • Determine business objectives then corresponding campaign metrics guiding initiatives.
  • Select suitable programmatic platform aligned to needs and integrate ad pixel with sales platforms.  
  • Establish audience profiles and curated whitelisted publisher placements.
  • Design multiple ad variations for split testing. Focus heavily on landing page optimization.  
  • Start small. Create initial automated campaign with defined budget then monitor analytics performance closely.
  • Based on observed data, tweak poorly performing elements and scale budget slowly upon achieving positive ROI.
  • Expand campaign types progressively once confident governing programmatic platforms capably reinvesting returns achieving objectives.

The Power of Programmatic Advertising

Campaign management juggernaut Mary Meeker coined the phrase that programmatic advertising essentially provides “Capitalism 2.0 at scale.” The fundamentals include:

– Identifying audiences likely engaging your brand by layering data

– Building machine learning algorithms predicting suitable messaging based on profiles

– Creating relevant advertisements showcasing effectively across unlimited ad exchanges 

– Placing digital ads reaching narrow segments wherever eyeballs already exist 

– Capturing interest converting into measurable objectives like sales, downloads or newsletter subscriptions

– Optimizing ad targeting, creative and placements via performance analytics continuously

This cycle allows mathematically reaching niche consumers within targetable audiences guaranteed interested engaging offerings relayed in the platforms. Advertisers save immense amounts of time and money versus guessing what works through conventional analog advertising still.

Programmatic revolutionized modern advertising through ruthless data-backed efficiency optimization benefiting consumers, publishers and advertisers equally. Now the capabilities become readily accessible finally for savvy small businesses venturing into digital landscapes as well. The platforms offer self-service built for relative newcomers priced reasonably building campaigns strategically. 

We recommend getting hands-on experience rather than hesitating until perfectly avoiding missteps altogether. Embrace a test-and-learn mindset while reviewing available training and community resources building working knowledge surrounding automated media buying ultimately. Once de-mystified fully, programmatic channels greatly outperform alternative options predictably placing your brand and solution where parties predisposed receiving your message await.