<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none;" alt="" src="https://dc.ads.linkedin.com/collect/?pid=88527&amp;fmt=gif">

What you need to create a programmatic advertising strategy

Strategy By: MarketingApr 24, 2018

Everything you need to know about programmatic series featuring extracts from our co-authored guide with ISBA - This extract is taken from Vol Two ... Download the full guides here



  1. Enhanced Performance
  2. Actionable Data
  3. Increased Brand Awareness
  4. Relevant Creative
  5. Connected Customer Experience
  6. International centralisation
  7. Transparent Insight
  8. Measuring True Value

How Programmatic can help enhance performance


The Problem

Marketers have highlighted that an over-reliance on the lower funnel tactics such as search, affiliate, and retargeting is generating ever-diminishing returns. Whether focused on driving revenue, or on other measures of engagement, marketers need to understand how advertising can deliver efficient campaigns across the full funnel.




How Programmatic Helps

When marketers only value the “last-touch” interaction before a conversion, the marketing activities that have most influence at the end of the purchase decision appear to be by far the most effective. This leads to a feedback loop of increasing spend in these areas. Unfortunately, this results in targeting a relatively small pool of users, which can be highly competitive, as in the case of paid search, or provide limited scale, as in retargeting.


By using the right data sources, programmatic advertising can drive sustainable growth from targeting previously undiscovered audiences, bringing new customers to a site. There are as many ways to do this as there are data sets. For example demographic, weather, contextual or location data can all be used to focus on target users.


Increasingly there are even more advanced ways of using data to find an audience. “Bid-stream analysis” can use data available through programmatic to identify where audiences have been before they visit an advertiser’s site. This provides information on customer browsing habits that can be used for targeting. Lookalike modelling takes a model of existing customers from first party data and uses it to identify new users who ‘look’ similar.


However, programmatic advertising’s central benefit revolves around the ability to continually optimise campaigns based on what is working. Campaign data is fed back to a central resource and marketers can focus on strongly performing strategies, whilst turning off those which are unsuccessful. This can create a virtuous cycle of improvement in results.


Download ISBA & Infectious Media's Programmatic Guide

Actionable Data

The Problem

The sheer volume of data available to advertisers makes it tricky to understand what is important and what isn’t. However, all marketers need to know how to use their customer data. This is the root of their competitive advantage as it allows them to improve the strategic and targeting capabilities of their advertising.


How Programmatic Helps

With data, advertisers can feel as if they are struggling to catch up with what is possible in both strategy and execution. If advertisers are not using first party data to target advertising, they are missing an opportunity as this will give them a competitive edge.


Advertiser first party data is what makes programmatic advertising campaigns unique to the individual brand. Making proper use of it provides a huge opportunity to retain customers and upsell. It can also provide a template to understand what your audience looks like and target new users.


The most forward looking advertisers are now taking control of their first party data by in-housing their ad serving and working with a data management platform (DMP). Employees will need to develop the necessary knowledge, skills and behaviours to become effective in the use of these technologies, because with data involved things can get complex very quickly.


However, this is not the only way to make first party data useful for programmatic. Some advertisers prefer to work around the complications by using their website data as a proxy to their customer relationship management (CRM) data. This is most effective for advertisers whose customers regularly visit their site to log-in, such as banks and retailers.


Either way, using data effectively allows advertisers to segment their audience based on where they are in the customer lifecycle to deliver a more relevant advertising experience. This can be built on by using a test-and-learn approach combined with performance data, to continually inform and develop the audience segmentation.


Download ISBA & Infectious Media's Guide to Programmatic




Increased Brand Awareness

The Problem

In recent years people have been watching less linear TV (Nielsen, 2016) and newspapers circulations have been consistently falling (ABC, 2015). As many advertisers divert more and more budget to engage their audiences online, some are worried that online media is not as effective at building brands as traditional advertising.

How Programmatic Helps

The advent of programmatic advertising means display is no longer solely a broadcast medium. Advertisers can reduce waste and create better advertising experiences through audience-targeted strategies. In 2015 eMarketer research, 92% of marketers cited reaching their exact target audience at scale as a reason to use programmatic for branding.

Programmatic can increase advertising efficiency by ensuring audiences are reached at the right place and time, whether that is on a particular site or device, or when the external factors are right, such as weather.

This is increasingly taking place on premium display and video inventory thanks to the dramatic increase in their availability through private marketplace deals (PMP), which account for 44% of the programmatic spend in the UK (IAB/PWC 2016).

Traditionally it has not been possible to improve advertising whilst a campaign is running, due to the lack of flexibility in media planning. Advanced programmatic reporting means that with the right goal, brand awareness campaigns can be adapted in-flight to become more effective, allowing ad-spend to achieve more value as the campaign progresses.

Some brand marketers are concerned about targeting users too many times with the same message, leading to a negative effect on brand image. Marketers can keep the creative fresh by using programmatic technology to frequency cap the number of adverts users are exposed to, or evolve the ads over time with sequential messaging.

Download ISBA & Infectious Media's Guide to Programmatic

Relevant Creative

The Problem

With the number of data sources now available to inform the final message, many advertisers are concerned they are not making the most of the online creative opportunity. But the proliferation of formats and the apparent reluctance from many creative agencies to engage with the data opportunity makes this a complex problem to solve.


How Programmatic Helps

Making the message relevant to the user and the context in which they are seeing an ad is now an achievable goal in programmatic campaigns. But the creative has become a tug of war between the art and the science, with some commentators saying a focus on the data can inhibit the creative process.


However, many are convinced that relevant creative is just as important as the ability to target their audience accurately. In a recent study 47% of agencies, publishers and brands claimed that programmatic data enables new forms of creativity and storytelling (Econsultancy 2016).


Even those advertisers that believe personalisation is the future of creative can find themselves struggling to get buy-in from their creative agency. Whether this is down to the way these agencies are set up, or the cost in creating multiple versions of each ad, a number of platforms have been established that specialise in providing ways to tailor ads for programmatic campaigns.


These dynamic creatives employ user data to display a number of options in each advert. In its most basic form, this might be establishing which product to show based on previous website activity, or which call to action to use depending on the user’s socio-economic status.


However, advertisers can still optimise towards the most effective messages for a campaign using existing creative through A/B testing. The insight gained in doing so can be fed back to their creative team to inform the next set of ads


Download ISBA & Infectious Media's Guide to Programmatic



Connected Customer Experience

The Problem

The silos between performance, brand and customer management has made aligning these activities difficult. Whilst the sheer complexity of the fragmented digital ecosystem challenges efforts to understand the customer journey.


How Programmatic Helps

Programmatic advertising can allow marketers to join up the dots of the customer experience. A data-led approach to both audience targeting and creative messaging helps advertisers determine the right combination of format, device, platform and channel to execute against campaign objectives, be that brand, prospecting, retargeting or cross/upsell.


These data connections allow insights to be understood and applied across strategies to break down silos between campaigns, giving a more joined up customer experience and more effective advertising.


Traditionally this has been made possible by using cookie data to track users via a browser. However, with the proliferation of devices, there are inaccuracies in this method. Cross-device tracking supplements this insight through a choice of two distinct approaches, ‘probabilistic’ and ‘deterministic’.


Probabilistic tracking predicts who is using a device by analysing a number of key data points. Deterministic tracking is available through publishers and apps that require a ‘sign in’ to access. Social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as Google, allow for very accurate deterministic cross-device targeting.


Ultimately, this is a complex process. But it is important to establish an accurate picture of how customers are interacting with advertising as this is vital in improving results.


Download ISBA & Infectious Media's Guide to Programmatic



International Centralisation


The Problem

Global and multinational marketers strive to deliver a consistent brand image. However, for those advertisers looking to centralise their marketing, managing media campaigns separately in each market is not only inefficient and time consuming, but risks confusion of the brand message. International marketers can be faced with sacrificing control of message for local market relevance.

How Programmatic Helps

An important benefit of programmatic to international advertisers is the ability to execute strategy centrally, instead of relying on network agencies to translate a central plan into each market to develop and carry out plans locally.

Programmatic streamlines the process as activity does not need to be interpreted by multiple local parties before being implemented. It ensures consistency in the media strategy and makes analysis and reporting easier, as learnings can be seen from one central entrypoint.

This centralisation through programmatic technology allows advertisers to standardise methods for measuring performance and apply this consistently across each market. This provides a level of agility and control, allowing marketers to respond quickly to international insights. By applying tactics working well in one market to other markets or pulling spend from less performing regions, marketers can maximise return from their advertising budget.


Download ISBA & Infectious Media's Guide to Programmatic



Transparent Insight

The Problem

Advertisers are struggling to achieve the transparency needed to determine whether their budgets are being spent wisely. This is a crucial first step to using insight for the continuous improvement of advertising strategy.

How Programmatic Helps

The amount of detailed data generated in programmatic advertising allows advertisers to be more connected to their campaigns than ever before. Technically speaking, this is a relatively simple process and one most companies providing programmatic services should be able to provide. Access to this data has the potential to give considerably more insight from advertising than previously possible.

However, in many cases the advent of programmatic has meant less transparency. There has been consistent feedback from many advertisers claiming that the complexity of the ecosystem has allowed non-transparent margins to be added at the expense of the ‘working media’ budget.

The reality is that many agencies and tech partners’ business model is nontransparent or they lack the technical capability to provide transparency.

What is less widely understood is how operational transparency should be similarly on offer if marketers are to understand what is working and how strategies need to adapt. Recent Forrester research shows that 59% of advertisers lack inventory transparency, while 56% lack visibility into data used to define targeted audiences.

Taking advantage of the insight available through programmatic helps to future-proof an advertiser’s business, offering an ever-developing blueprint of what works and what doesn’t. Insight allows advertisers to expand campaigns, confident they have the historical data to back up their strategy.


Measuring true value

The Problem

Because digital has been shown to be more measurable than traditional media, there is an expectation for marketers to be able to prove return on spend. But with complications inherent in measuring the value of display, advertisers are often in the dark about what has worked and what hasn’t, leading to a struggle in justifying advertising budgets.

How Programmatic Helps

Programmatic advertising’s ability to provide granular data on campaign performance allows advertisers to determine in detail what’s working and what isn’t. But to take advantage of this, advertisers need to develop traditional measurement into a new, more accountable model. Requiring a certain amount of internal education, this allows for display advertising to be properly attributed to show how it impacts the company’s bottom line.

Deciding on the right programmatic KPIs is an important task for advertisers. For too long the emphasis has been on misleading metrics that don’t do a good job of attributing success amongst the different digital channels. Measuring click-through rates or even last-click will skew results away from the impact of display advertising.

Also these types of measurement are not linked to a conversion and are easily taken advantage of by fraudsters.

Comscore research in 2009 showed that just 8% of web users are responsible for 85% of clicks, demonstrating that display advertising does not work by encouraging people to click on ads. Additional research performed by Infectious Media (2015) used lookalike modelling to reveal that the people who do click on an advert are in fact less likely to convert.

The benchmark of success for programmatic advertising centres around action taken after seeing an advert, or ‘view-through’ conversions. Many forward-thinking advertisers are adopting viewable cost-per-acquisition (vCPA) targets to take into account if an ad was actually seen, or even ones that only measure the incremental uplift.

Incremental measurement considers an audience’s baseline level of conversion to count actions that can be attributed to advertising. This type of next generation measurement is providing an insight into the real value of display.

Download ISBA & Infectious Media's Guide to Programmatic

Get monthly programmatic insights into your inbox