How to score a perfect 10 with programmatic in 2015

As a cost-effective and ROI-driven approach to digital advertising, programmatic is well worth the effort in the long-run. Here are some top tips for successfully starting and maintaining your own programmatic strategy by DataXu’s UK director, Chris Le May, published in MediaTel.

With spend on programmatic set to rise and rise in the year ahead, agencies need to think about when – not if – they’ll be going programmatic. But for many, digital marketing is complex enough without having to navigate the brave new world of programmatic as well. There’s some truth to that.

Here are our top tips for successfully starting and maintaining your own programmatic strategy:

1. Make a long-term commitment: Programmatic requires dedication and work to make it successful, and to glean the marketing insight it delivers. Programmatic platforms can’t learn and deliver excellent results from doing one campaign per quarter – they need plenty of campaigns to test and learn from, so don’t be afraid to plan big and for the long-term.

2. Think like a programmatic marketer: Embrace your inner problem-solver. Don’t get stuck in the ‘how’: trust the technology to tease out insights that can’t be identified manually. For instance, nuances in the data can point to audiences you might not have thought of, or signal key locations you’d overlooked. These insights can often disprove your previous assumptions, so keeping an open mind is key.

3. Don’t look at programmatic in isolation: The days of marketing in isolation are over. You can – and should – use the huge amount of data from programmatic to inform other aspects of your business like market research and even product development. We sometimes say, “Advertising is research” so don’t be shy about opening this information up to the company generally, as the organisation as a whole could benefit.

4. Set the stage for a programmatic organisation: While digital marketing is becoming more and more important for brands, there are still many who see digital as a specialised subset. You’ll need to change the way you approach marketing as a whole to really drive results from programmatic, so make sure the entire team – from marketing executives to senior stakeholders – is on board.

5. Embrace big data: Programmatic marketing works best with the biggest of big data, so choose a platform that can ingest as much data as possible. Ideally, your platform should also be able to analyse a wide variety of data types, including first-party, second-party, third-party, as well as campaign and media data, to deliver the best results.

6. Think evergreen for programmatic campaigns: The always-on, programmatic storytelling approach allows marketers to talk to consumers wherever they are in the funnel, so your campaigns need to be ‘always on’ as well. This isn’t to say programmatic can’t be responsive and adaptive, but when starting out, it can be useful to go with broader campaigns, rather than specialised ones.

7. Adopt a holistic view: Programmatic works best across digital channels, so look to create campaigns that can work across all types – including social, search, mobile, and video – to reach customers. It’s easier to focus on your customer with a single, clean view, and a holistic approach to programmatic helps deliver the seamless experience customers expect across different devices.

8. Eliminate buying constraints: Adding too many restrictions in the form of data layers or white lists can prevent you from getting the scale you need. Trust the programmatic platform and the insight you gain to find and reach your audience.

9. Keep your options open: There’s a lot of hype around private premium deals with publishers at the moment, but keep in mind that it’s just one buying model. Marketers have a variety of buying models now, including direct buys, private exchanges and open exchanges. Each offers unique benefits, so do your research on all models to find what’s best for your campaign.

10. Ask questions: As with any new technology, there’s bound to be a learning curve, so make sure you can ask your provider for support and training, and lean on your partners. Programmatic is the ideal testing ground to experiment. Start small, test and learn: if it fails, learn from it – if it works, go bigger. Keep asking questions. And repeat.

Programmatic technology is here to stay, so it’s time for agency teams to embrace their inner rocket scientists and experiment with programmatic for themselves. Like most trends in the marketing landscape, programmatic advertising waits for no man – so the best advice is to keep up.