What is Programmatic Ad Buying and why should it be Part of Your 2014 Marketing Plan?

We have all seen the stats on display advertising, like you are more likely to birth twins or survive a plane crash than to click on a banner ad. Though these stats may be statistically accurate, at the end of the day, we all know display advertising is a numbers game. The amount of reach banner ads provide at relatively low costs often justifies the investment into this realm of advertising.

If you are like me, when you first heard of programmatic ad buying or real-time bidding (RTB) platforms you thought it was just a new way to sell display advertising. And like me you couldn’t have been more wrong. In today’s world, marketers are faced with a seemingly unlimited amount of inventory for limited ad dollars that span regions and demographic profiles and access sites through many different devices. Add to the mix A/B testing of creative and landing pages and you have data that spans 100,000s of sites. It becomes difficult to get any real gauge of what is working and where. This is the problem programmatic ad buying will resolve.

Programmatic ad buying platforms use conversion and demographic data and test your creative in real- time across devices whether they be online display, Facebook Exchange ads, mobile or video ads. The platform then takes your creative assets, while keeping conversion goals in mind, and serves it to audiences across the web that best match the demographic profile most likely to convert on your targeted landing pages.

This all sounds awesome so what’s the downside?

Glad you asked! The risk is that it takes time to build up enough data to start making intelligent decisions on your ad spend. Most of the platforms we have talked about have a minimum buy-in of $10,000 – $20,000 for a 4-8 week tests. During this time, the platforms algorithm is building up intelligence and data and will not be operating at 100% efficiency.

Risk can be mitigated by using tested proven creative and landing pages while slowly introducing new creative assets. Also providing demographic and regional settings prior to going live can help these platforms identify the best places to start serving your ads. Preliminary data can be compiled by placing pixels 3-4 weeks prior to launch to help these platforms gain insights about your visitors and more importantly the demographic profile of your conversions. Lastly, when finalizing the contract ensure there is a 24-hour out clause so you can stop advertising efforts in case the spend is not converting at a reasonable rate.

Sounds great? Let’s get started!

Dan Monarko is the Director of Digital Media at Flying Cork.