The Journey to Consumer Centric Marketing

Eight steps to getting programmatic right.

A method to buy media

Programmatic is not a new media channel – it is just a new method of buying media. Rather than buying pre-configured media packages that publishers or ad networks sell, you can buy each impression separately in real-time, using technology and data to cherry pick the right user and the right placement. Today, programmatic buying is activated on Search Advertising, Social Advertising, Display, Video and Mobile but next steps include digital Out Of Home and digital TV.

Regardless of the technology, it is crucial to remember that programmatic is still about understanding consumer needs, where to reach them, how to engage them and how to measure marketing success.

Consumer – centric marketing at scale

The core benefit of programmatic is not automation; it is the opportunity to add more intelligence to the media buy – boosting your ability to show the right message, to the right consumer, in the right context and at the right time. This allows you to turn mass broadcast marketing into a dialogue at scale.

It makes your messages more relevant and helpful for the consumer and – done right – leads to a significant improvement in ROI.

Products and services

Programmatic Products combine media inventory, technology, audience data and specialists in a bundled offer with a clear promise and fixed price. This is low risk and a good entry point. What you gain in ease by using the Programmatic Products you lose in terms of control because the components such as media, tech and inventory are preselected and integrated into the programmatic product.

Examples of Programmatic Products are Criteo (Re-targeting customers), Quantcast (Audience buying) and Rocketfuel, but also packaged agency offerings like XAXIS, Light-Reaction or many agency trading desks.

Control quality and outcomes

One of the main objections to buying programmatically is the misconception that it places your buys at risk of fraud and lack of control. The truth is that you can minimise the risk of buying fraudulent impressions, non-human traffic or placing ads within inappropriate context by switching on ad-verification and pre-bid blocking for each impression.

This will give you a level of control and security that was not available in the pre-programmatic age. Some brands even go as deep as defining their own keyword lists of context to avoid, i.e. Airlines blocking plane crash articles or food brands avoiding obesity discussions.

Another technique you can use is to only buy from sellers you trust via Private Marketplace Deals (PMD). This approach not only helps your campaigns by giving you access to quality inventory, adformats and data segments that publishers don’t sell on the open exchanges, but also helps to maintain a quality internet publisher landscape.

Core to success is also to measure as close to real business outcomes as possible – impression and clicks can be faked; real transactions much less so.

Make sure your ads are seen

Viewability is a key for both brand and performance campaigns as an ad that is not seen cannot have any impact. Some DSPs now support trading on viewable impressions but most impressions are sold on a plain impression basis as viewability is an outcome metric and determined only after the ad has been delivered.

You can optimise for viewability in the same way as you can specify optimisation towards clicks.

While the relevant KPI for clicks is cost per click and not click-through rate, the right KPI for viewability is cost per viewable impression or eCPM (viewable), NOT viewability rate.

How to make a better connection

Consumer-centric marketing is obviously not just about getting access to the right consumer but also delivering the right content for that consumer’s behaviour at that particular time.

A good way to think about the right content is to think like the sales person in your local grocery store, who naturally react to your intent signals and frequency of visits.

Such people do not spend much time reading consumer trend reports or pondering the customer journey. They simply look and listen and respond in a flexible way to change the narrative based on what you are engaging with.

In programmatic, you don’t have to understand the whole customer journey – you just have to combine the intent signals you receive from the consumer to decide which message would be the most appropriate.

A user coming to a travel site, for example, might be greeted with an ad about low-cost flights to New York if they have previously searched for them. Another user might be greeted with Honeymoon offers if they have visited wedding planning sites before. And after booking a flight, we should stop offering flights but rather talk about hotels, rental cars or activities at the destination.

To deliver content and connections in real time, your programmatic media plan will map all potential user segments to all touchpoints in the plan and assign the right message to the right user at the right touchpoint.

Think about the integration of message development and media optimisation. In Search and Social Advertising, the same teams deliver both the creatives as well as the media optimisation.

Don’t become a stalker

Thinking consumer centric means remembering not to shout at the consumer, not to stalk them and, importantly, to know when to back-off. Being too precise in your message or being too aggressive with the frequency will make the consumer feel stalked and ultimately make them less responsive to your messaging.

Crawl, walk, run

Programmatic media can become quite complex, but you can also grow the complexity slowly. When we started with search 15 years ago, we did not start with thousands of keywords and hundreds of ad-groups; it has grown over time as we have gotten closer and closer to identifying the needs expressed by each consumer query. The same is happening with the consumer centric content and connections mapping at scale that programmatic enables.

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