Five steps to powerful programmatic branding

When Pam Horan, President of the Online Publishers Association (OPA), wrote in December 2012 that “programmatic buying does not build brands”, few would have disagreed. Today, times have changed as big data, programmatic buying and real-time bidding have collectively paved the way for a new generation of brand opportunities online.

Recognising the growing shift in buying trends from single-site buys to RTB, many of the traditionally “exclusive” publishers are putting their inventory up for auction, allowing all parties to benefit. The resultant platform is sophisticated, universal and creates opportunities for all involved: buyers can now easily purchase across premium sites without juggling multiple publisher orders, while the advertiser benefits from myriad targeting and optimisation.

Display has historically been associated, paradoxically, with poor viewability. Ads bought programmatically result in around 54% “out-of-view” impressions, so it is little wonder that brand marketers gravitated toward big-name publications on and offline. But this is changing.

With the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) announcing new trading standards for viewability, there is more pressure than ever for networks, supply side platforms (SSPs) and publishers to give advertisers what they want: guaranteed viewable ads. And it is the ability to trade on viewability that makes this possible.

So how can marketers run a successful RTB brand campaign?

1. Reach
RTB gives brand advertisers access to millions of users instantly across both private and public ad exchanges – there are no restrictions on how many unique users you can reach when buying individual sites.

2. Targeting
How do you know you’re targeting the right people? Uniquely, RTB permits trading on an impression-by-impression basis rather than the traditional cost per mille (CPM), which minimises wastage considerably. Using a partner with the right technology allows you to achieve a tightly targeted campaign with access to any of these parameters:

• Demographics: comScore and others have brought offline data to the web, enabling marketers to target by gender, age, household income and social grade.
• Interest: audience interest profiles are key to identifying target users, choosing a provider with proprietary data on a large majority of your core market(s) is crucial.
• Location: geo-location can be vital for some advertisers – targeting to postcode level with companies such as Digital Element promises up to 90% accuracy.
• Psychographic: many suppliers offer a range of psychographic data enabling you to reach your core audience using traditional offline definitions.

3. Creative
Ads that have impact and can be bought at scale are key – formats that are readily available through exchanges are ideal as they give the greatest reach.

Non-expanding IAB-standard rich media creative offers maximum reach and targeting while the video element ups the ante in the engagement stakes. Utilising converted TV campaigns for web ads can create effective and cohesive campaigns, while expanding rich media can be used for ultimate interactivity and user engagement. Whatever format you choose, build in HTML5 to get full functionality on tablets and mobile too – these account for a huge proportion of your audience.

4. Inventory quality
As revealed earlier, the accessibility of premium inventory is on the up. Publishers want to cash in on the RTB exchange, and that’s great news for brand advertisers.

With an ocean of inventory available, good content verification will pay dividends. Look for these capabilities from your provider: URL visibility, brand safety, viewability and media quality.

5. Viewability
“A viewable ad is a unit that is 50% viewable, for one second.” (IAB). With new approved trading guidelines, the IAB has paved the way for a new currency for brands advertising online: CPV (cost per view). This metric allows branding campaigns to be bought on the “opportunity to see” – just like traditional branding ads on TV.

To summarise, real time branding, executed well, is a brand campaign unlike any other. Not confined to the pokey corridors of fixed site lists, this new breed of advertising allows brands to spread their wings without fear of injury. It allows them to navigate safely and quickly to the right person, in the right place, at the right time – with increasing efficiency, something to which no individual publisher can ever lay claim.

This article appeared in The Guardian

By Sophia Savitsky, Senior Client Services Executive, Crimtan.