ADOTAS (1st of 5 parts) — When you first learned to ride a bike, what happened when you took the training wheels off for the first time? Did you give up when you teetered to the left and right? When you skinned your knee, did you throw the bike to the side and forget about it? Likely not. When you were learning to drive a car, did you turn it off and jump out because you lurched forward through a stop? No – you eventually gauged the effect of your foot’s pressure on the gas and break and became a successful driver. The same goes for programmatic.
Although a natural response with erratic campaign performance might be to call it quits – end the campaign, pull your insertion order – there are addressable reasons why campaign performance may disappoint, and you can overcome each with the right guidance. In this series, I will be discussing the solutions to five common pain points within the real-time programmatic space.
Pain Point 1: The General Pain Point
You did what you thought you were supposed to, but programmatic just didn’t produce good results.
Results can fall short of expectations when the wrong platform or inappropriate methodology is used. To get it right, you must understand the differences between the various programmatic platforms and use appropriate applications for each type of platform.
The focus of this series will be on real-time media buying. Pain Point 1 can be caused by applying a full-service methodology to a self-service system, or by applying a self-service methodology to a full-service system. The different types of systems have unique best practices.
While all demand-side platforms (DSPs) sit along a continuum with various features and capabilities, self-service systems tend to lean more toward ease of operation for a user, which can come at the cost of the automated optimization that more complex machine learning brings.
Self-service platforms are useful when you don’t need insights, hyper-performing sub-segments or new audiences. In operating a self-service platform, users should view themselves as directly controlling the campaign. Picture a puppeteer behind a screen, controlling the flapping mouth and bouncing limbs of the character that is engaging the audience. If you know everything about your audience and how you want to target them, then self-service is a straightforward and efficient means of executing your campaign. Your targeting and media selections will drive the performance of the campaign with little interference from the system. The best technique for getting performance from a system like this is to do your research and be very specific about what media to use, and what targeting to apply.
Full-service systems allow advertisers to have control and give direction, too, while also having the added benefit of sophisticated automatic optimization. Full-service partners are expert operators of their systems, and they handle all configurations and complexities for the brand. By identifying and understanding new audiences for a product, service, or offer, they provide deeper insight into a specific audience.
When taking advantage of a full-service partner, the best technique for advertisers to optimize performance is to provide as much information and guidance as possible; firsthand insight into a brand’s audience is critical to initial campaign learning. The brand or agency then lets the optimization engineers manage the system. Imagine hiring a design firm to rebrand your company. You tell the consultants as much as you can about who you are and what you do. Ultimately, though, you hand off the actual rebranding to the team you’ve hired; after all, they have the messaging and graphics expertise to bring your company to a whole new level. Full-service programmatic RTB is a similar relationship; you give input about your audience and what motivates them. You can certainly have all the constraints and safety you want, but you don’t have to keep your hands on the wheel. Targeting criteria, consumer personas, and learning pixels along the path to conversion all guide the initial learning of the automated optimization system. The system will then discover the best performing audiences and reach them at scale.
In the end, ROI or ROAS is what really matters. You must understand each programmatic system and how it works to factor in your marketing objectives and decide which will best achieve your target for ROI. Making a well-educated decision hangs on your ability to distinguish one programmatic system from the next, rather than generalizing “programmatic.” Choose a type of platform that is appropriate for your advertising goals, the strategy of your campaign, and your organization. Once you have made that selection, apply the appropriate technique to get the best results.
Part 2: How to Correct Inconsistent Results from Your Programmatic Media Buying
Part 3: How to Extend Your Reach and Avoid Oversaturated Audiences
Part 4: How to Reach Your Programmatic Media-Buying Goals Across All Channels