Top Tips: Investing in programmatic buying

Keeping a few basic rules in mind should help to make your programmatic trading a success.

[image_library_tag 31ea05b7-bd82-4286-8f7e-b9a6a32e0a81 88x132 alt="27-05-2015-tips-for-investing-in-programmatic-buying" title="27-05-2015-tips-for-investing-in-programmatic-buying" width="88" height="132"class="left "]Dan Madden is Vice President of Marketing at video advertising technology platform Coull, where he is focused on developing Coull into a global adtech brand. His background is in marketing and communications across the healthcare and automotive sectors, but he has found his spiritual home among the developers and product managers of the technology industry.

Dan shares his tops on investing in programmatic buying.


The rise of programmatic trading - automating the process of buying and selling digital media and advertising - is helping marketers to target users more accurately with their advertising and to achieve that at scale. Magna Global estimates global programmatic ad spend will reach $53 billion by 2017.

Programmatic delivery of advertising enables a wealth of data from multiple sources to be used to inform every ad buy, increasing effectiveness for advertisers and raising the value of publisher inventory. By optimising ad placements, marketers stand a much better chance of delivering campaigns to audiences with a real propensity to engage with their brand, rather than be seen as a nuisance that users must try to get away from.

However, the growing adoption of programmatic ad trading has brought with it a large degree of uncertainty – typically around quality, pricing and viewability of ads. Moreover, as the digital advertising ecosystem grows ever larger, so too do the number of companies forming part of the ad-tech stack. How best to navigate it? Keeping a few basic rules in mind should help to make your programmatic trading a success.  

Do your research and skill up your team - DSPs, DMPs, exchanges, ad networks and media buying teams are just a few of the organisations that publishers and advertisers are now having to interact with in order to navigate this industry. It’s a complex, fast-moving and unquestionably confusing marketplace, so it’s worth doing your homework and getting up to speed on the part each contingent plays in the ecosystem. You will also need to make some new hires or skill up your team to ensure you play effectively in the space.  

Programmatic is not just RTB - Programmatic is often confused with real-time bidding or RTB, but this is just one method of programmatic trading. Real-time bidding refers to the buying and selling of online ad impressions through real-time auctions, often facilitated by ad exchanges or supply-side platforms. However, ads can also be traded in private marketplaces. Programmatic direct is different from real-time bidding, in that it doesn’t involve an auction. Make sure you understand the pros and cons of each programmatic process before jumping in.  

Pick the right partner - When it comes to digital advertising, it’s easy to think that there’s a publisher and an advertiser and an intermediary that sits between them. But the reality is that the ad tech stack is enormous, bloated and convoluted, with scores of different players and middlemen – just take a look at the LUMAscape. Every single one of them takes their cut, but it’s questionable how many of them add any real value to the process. Educate yourself and make sure you’re partnering with the right people.

Safety first - A third of advertisers say that brand safety issues are actively inhibiting their adoption of programmatic because of decreased control over where their advertising may be served/viewed, according to a survey of digital marketing leaders carried out by the IAB & Winterberry Group. Advertisers, understandably, want to know which sites their ads are running on before, during, and after their campaigns.  The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has now developed Quality Assurance Guidelines for networks and exchanges which should help alleviate concerns from marketers regarding the safety and promises made about using RTB. Make sure you familiarise yourself with the implications and take steps to safeguard your brand.

Don’t limit yourself to display - look for opportunities in mobile video - Mobile video advertising is the fastest-growing digital ad segment and that growth will continue to skyrocket into 2015. Mobile users typically content snack, so behavioural targeting is secondary to delivering an ad that’s relevant to a user’s interest at that moment in time. RTB must be used in the right way if it’s to enable advertisers to capitalise on consumer impulses. Using programmatic to make sure that ads are not only audience relevant, but contextually relevant to the content viewers are watching will ensure greater engagement.

With more and more big name brands - FMCG giant Mondelez is just one of a raft of companies - shifting serious budget to programmatic, it’s not hard to see the way the industry is moving. Make sure you’re not left behind.