Where and When Do You Get Started With Programmatic?

It is no secret that Google and Facebook (G + FB) dominate the lion’s share of ad spend globally (accounting for 61.4% of digital ad spend globally according to WARC’s Global Advertising Trends Report) as well as acquiring the highest percentages of new ad spend entering the market from brands looking to develop a digital advertising presence. It’s important to firstly reflect on some of the reasons why this is the case, before looking at what brands can do outside of this.

Pros for Google and Facebook:

  • They make their platforms very easy to use for brands looking to run or test some digital advertising
  • Owing to the ease of operation of the platforms, it is easier for brands to find that talent or to develop the talent to operate these platforms internally
  • Google and Facebook have an enormous wealth of data which advertisers can use to reach their audiences
  • Ultimately, and most importantly, they deliver ROI for brands (particularly important for brands such as high growth DTCs who are initially more focused on driving sales and are less concerned about brand equity)

All of the above makes for a compelling way to start with digital advertising and of course the reach and share of user attention that these platforms offer makes them indispensable to most brands. There are, however, are number of factors that are often overlooked as to why brands should look at the options outside of G + FB and I wanted to lay some of my thoughts out below. Having worked with a number of DTC brands here at TPA, including ones whose digital spend was all invested in G + FB, I have seen first-hand how creating a programmatic operation can deliver amazing results and offer huge benefits over purely investing in G + FB.

Why Look Outside of Google and Facebook:

  • If you are for example, a DTC brand who is investing all of your digital ad spend in G + FB, then it’s likely that the majority of your competition are also doing the same, meaning that you are reaching the same audiences, using the same data that is available to all buyers in these platforms
  • As G + FB attract more and more advertising dollars and buyers, this increases competition for impressions and as such costs will continue to inflate
  • Brands can reach diminishing returns when only investing in G + FB – this is important to monitor as an indicator of one of the reasons as to when you should be considering looking elsewhere
  • Programmatic opens up new audiences who are outside of G + FB and is also increasingly applicable to other emerging channels such as Addressable TV, providing brands with access to different digital experiences
  • Your whole digital strategy can be affected by any changes that are implemented by G or FB
  • You are reliant on the measurement that G + FB provide which is not de-duplicated across all media, so is often hugely overstated (I have seen it reported as 30:1 ROI with FB but an independent measurement specialist said a better guide would be 3:1)
  • There is enormous reach which still exists outside of these channels – the Ozone project in the UK is a good example of this with a combined reach of 44.1 million people in the UK, which exceeds that of G or FB

 

So, if any/some of the above points resonate with you, it may be time for you to start looking at programmatic. But where do you start?

I see that there are really 4 key pillars for a brand to think about before considering starting with programmatic:

Strategy & Goals – it is crucial to understand what you want programmatic to deliver for your business and to define this up-front in order to set an appropriate strategy. You should think about what your use cases are and how these fit alongside what you’re doing in G + FB. Oftentimes the very first use case for programmatic is retargeting, allowing brands to find high value users in new environments and drive the highest possible ROI. This strategy will of course change overtime as sophistication levels increase.

Data – brands who are already running digital activity with G + FB will (in most cases) already have a robust data strategy which can be built on and operationalised for programmatic. Think about your first party data sources as a first port of call and ensure that you are making the most of your valuable owned data, then consider how 2nd and 3rd party data (the likes of which you don’t have access to in G + FB) can be deployed to enhance your campaigns.

Measurement – ensure that you are clear on how you will measure your programmatic campaigns and that your data strategy and organisation of data allows you to execute this. What are the KPIs you will use and how do they compare to the KPIs and metrics that you will use in G + FB? Will you utilise an adserver as a central source of truth and how will de-duping conversions across channels impact on the perceived number of conversions driven by digital activity?

Talent – arguably the most important factor for a new entrant to programmatic in order to make it a success is finding a trusted programmatic partner who can take them on this journey. This can be done via managed services with tech providers or through a self-service model with support from a consultancy for example. Finding a suitable partner will allow the brand to navigate areas such as technology, inventory whitelisting, brand safety, campaign management & optimisation, creative as well as all of the pillars mentioned above.

So, if you feel that you’re ready to start with programmatic, keep the above considerations in mind and I’m certain that it can be a success for you!