Each month, Basis Technologies’ Programmatic 101 series tackles a different facet of programmatic advertising—from best practices for buyers, to competitors in the space, to trends you should know.

With 73% of consumers expecting companies to understand their unique needs, personalization in marketing is no longer an option—it’s an imperative.

Behavioral targeting is one of the most common techniques used by marketers to deliver personalized messages. At the same time, the impending loss of third-party cookies in Google’s Chrome browser will change how marketers are able to use this kind of targeting in their campaigns.

Looking to understand how behavioral targeting works, what benefits it offers, and what it might look like in a future without third-party cookies? You’ve come to the right place.

What is Behavioral Targeting?

Behavioral targeting is when an advertiser targets potential consumers based on their interests or behaviors demonstrated online, in-app, or in-store. To leverage behavioral targeting, advertisers must have access to first-, second-, or third-party behavioral data.

Digital marketers collect first-party behavioral data by tracking behaviors or actions completed on their websites, such as site page activity and purchase history.

Marketers can also tap into second-party data (i.e., first-party data that is collected by a business other than your own) and third-party data (i.e., data sets that are aggregated by data collection companies) to power behavioral targeting.

How Does Behavioral Targeting Work?

Behavioral data is used to build better, more individualized customer experiences. For example, Target collects shopper data for all in-store and online purchases. They can then use this first-party data to make personalized suggestions based on individual customers’ buying history.

As mentioned earlier, behavioral targeting can go beyond first-party data. For example, let’s say you’re an advertiser looking to target new moms and have maxed out first-party data targeting (retargeting, CRM, lookalike, etc.) from your own website. You could tap into second-party behavioral targeting by purchasing Visa’s New Mom Segment, which they create based on the first-party credit card information they collect.

Marketers can also turn to third-party data providers, which create various audience segments based on aggregations of data, for behavioral targeting. However, with the coming loss of third-party cookies in Chrome, increasing regulation over how companies can use consumer data, and a public that’s concerned about data privacy, it’s best for marketers to lean into more privacy-friendly targeting techniques.

Benefits of Behavioral Targeting

Behavioral targeting offers marketers a variety of benefits, including the ability to:

  1. Test and learn key audiences: Behavioral targeting empowers advertisers to test, learn, and discover which audiences drive the highest value without incurring the financial costs of expensive audience segmentation studies.
  2. Personalize customer experiences: Behavioral data allows marketers to better understand their audiences, which in turn enables them to craft custom messaging designed to resonate with those audiences.
  3. Increase sales with relevant recommendations: By understanding what consumers have previously purchased, which pages they spend the most time viewing, or what products they are researching, brands can reach consumers when they’re in the right mindset to buy.

The Future of Behavioral Targeting

While browsers like Safari and Firefox are already operating without third-party cookies, the loss of third-party cookies in Chrome will impact advertisers even more significantly.

Since third-party behavioral targeting relies mainly on cookies, data companies must find new privacy-compliant ways to create the same—or similar—audiences. As a result, we expect the use of third-party data to become model-based instead of a one-to-one match. To make up for the changes in third-party data opportunities, advertisers will do more to make the most of their first-party behavioral data and lean into second-party behavioral targeting tactics.

Want to learn more about how you can prepare for the cookieless future? Check out our guide to navigating the identity crisis.

Each month, Basis Technologies’ Programmatic 101 series tackles a different facet of programmatic advertising—from best practices for buyers, to competitors in the space, to trends you should know.

Advertisers have enjoyed the benefits of programmatic media since 2007, when demand side platforms were first introduced. With the flexibility, transparency, and access to real-time data that programmatic provides, advertisers have the option to either plan a full funnel campaign or focus on specific initiatives such as awareness, site traffic, or direct response. With so many objectives and corresponding key performance indicators (KPIs) to choose from, advertisers must make their selections carefully in order to set performance expectations and drive results.

Translating a Business Goal Into a Digital Objective

One of the first aspects of campaign planning is to translate a client’s business goal into a digital objective. For example, a client may want to focus on increasing market share. You have a few options here: You could translate the goal of increasing market share into an awareness objective and focus on reach; you could translate it into a traffic objective and focus on site visitors, or you could translate it into a direct response objective and focus on sales or return on ad spend (ROAS). The best way to cut through the digital objective clutter is to identify the top two or three metrics the executive team wants to look at to determine success, and match those metrics with a corresponding KPI.

Determining KPIs for Your Programmatic Advertising Campaign

Once you have identified the business goal, the digital objective, and the key metrics that you’ll use to evaluate success, the next step is to select the KPI that will help drive performance. Ultimately, you want your campaigns to produce full-funnel results, starting with awareness, moving to traffic or consideration, and finally, eliciting an action (i.e., a conversion). Let’s review these three stages:

Awareness KPIs

Advertisers have two main goals when running campaigns with the objective of awareness:

  1. Reach as many customers as possible, as efficiently as possible. Cost-per-thousand (CPM) or click-through-rate (CTR) are best suited to measure this.
  2. To communicate a message, such as brand history, key differentials, or a new product or program. Video completion rate (VCR) or audio completion rate (ACR) are best suited to measure this.

It’s key to remember that when a client is running an awareness objective, the KPIs are not set up to control for cost. Why? Because the client’s focus is on reach and communication, not efficiency.  

Traffic/Consideration KPIs

Advertisers have two main goals when running campaigns with the objective of traffic or consideration:

  1. Increase consideration by re-engaging with key consumers to remind them of your brand, product, or messaging. Cost-per-completed view (CPCV) is best suited to measure this.
  2. Drive consumers to specific landing pages within a website. Cost-per-landing page visit (CPLPV) or cost-per-click (CPC) are best suited to measure this.

Note: CPLPV and CPC are very similar KPIs, but CPLPV requires a pixel placement to ensure a page has fully loaded before counting. CPC, on the other hand, does not require a pixel, and only counts if a user clicks on an ad.

Conversion KPIs

Advertisers have one main goal when running campaigns with the objective of conversion: to drive a consumer to complete an action. That action could be purchasing something online, downloading a visitor guide, requesting more information, or visiting a brick-and-mortar location.

Like a consideration objective, it is imperative that the KPIs you use in a conversion/action campaign control for cost, or at least take cost into consideration, as advertisers want to drive as many actions as possible as efficiently as possible. The recommended KPIs for this objective include:

Advertisers will also sometimes use the number of conversions as a KPI. However, we don’t recommend it—since the focus is on the number of actions rather than driving those actions as efficiently as possible, this strategy can drive up cost.

Need a visual recap of what we just discussed? Check this out:

A table listing client objectives and associated measurable KPIs.

Setting Campaign Goals and KPIs—Wrapping Up

It’s important to keep in mind that depending on a client’s business goal and budget, a single programmatic campaign may have multiple objectives, targeting tactics, and KPIs. In this case, you’ll need to consider each factor both individually and in context of the larger campaign.

Want to learn more about the stages of the marketing funnel, and discover how a consumer’s decision-making process lines up with each stage? Check out AdTech Academy’s Marketing Funnel Basics Certification!

Each month, Basis Technologies’ Programmatic 101 series tackles a different facet of programmatic advertising—from best practices for buyers, to competitors in the space, to trends you should know.

Thanks to consumer demand for both privacy in advertising and relevant and personalized ad messaging, contextual targeting is having a moment. With 61% of advertisers expecting to see an increase in buy-side budgeting for contextual-based campaigns, it's important for marketers to understand how this targeting method works, as well as the benefits it offers.

Ready to get clear on all things contextual? Let's dive in:

What is Contextual Targeting?

Contextual targeting is a tactic that allows advertisers to target according to the content of a webpage, instead of according to user IDs or behavioral data. Contextual segments are categorized based on the keywords found in the digital spaces where consumers spend time, or the topics that characterize those spaces. For example, if you’re served an ad about paint products while reading an article about the best way to paint smooth walls, you were served a contextual ad.

Contextual targeting can be utilized for a full funnel strategy: It's often leveraged to drive awareness of a new brand or product, increase creative engagement, and drive traffic to an advertiser’s website.

Contextual Targeting vs. Behavioral Targeting

When an advertiser uses contextual targeting, the content of the ad aligns with the content of the website. In contrast, behavioral targeting leverages a web user's past browsing behavior to serve relevant ads.

For example, if you Googled "holiday gifts for my dog," and were later shown an ad for puppy pajamas, that ad was served to you via behavioral targeting.

Contextual Targeting Benefits

Let's dig into some of the top benefits of contextual targeting:

1. Brand Safe

Unlike other types of targeting that prioritize user behavior or past website actions, contextual targeting focuses on content, which allows advertisers greater control over where their ads show up—and more importantly, where they don’t show up.

2. Cookie Free

Consumers are more comfortable with contextual than other forms of targeting, as it's easy to understand how the ads are served, and feels like less of a privacy violation as a result. As marketers prepare for the eventual demise of third-party cookies, contextual targeting offers a tried-and-tested, cookie-free solution that brands can (and should!) start testing and refining now.

3. Cost-Efficient

Contextual targeting is more cost-efficient than behavioral targeting when it comes to cost-per-click (CPC), cost-per-viewable impression (vCPM), and cost per thousand impressions (CPM). This targeting tactic can also offset the higher data fees that come with first- and third-party data.

4. Reach Niche Audiences

Contextual targeting is a fantastic solution for advertisers trying to reach audience segments that are unique or hard to define based on website actions. For example, if you're a hot dog brand trying to find relish enthusiasts or a cannabis brand who wants to reach indie festival attendees, contextual targeting allows the granularity needed to build these custom segments.

The Future of Contextual Targeting

As a result of more and more advertisers tapping into this tactic, contextual is evolving. Publishers are using technology to decipher the context of both images and videos in order to add additional scale for advertisers, and advertising platforms are leveraging AI to understand the sentiment of online articles to further help brands decide where they should run their display and video ads.

The takeaway for advertisers? This targeting tactic isn't going anywhere—and it will continue to develop and mature as we move towards a more privacy-friendly world.

Want to become even more of a contextual targeting expert? Get certified with AdTech Academy's contextual targeting certification!

Each month, Basis Technologies’ Programmatic 101 series tackles a different facet of programmatic advertising—from best practices for buyers, to competitors in the space, to trends you should know.

The advertising industry is constantly expanding with new channels, platforms, and formats, but video continues to be an important part of any advertiser’s media mix. In fact, eMarketer predicts that $62.96 billion will be spent on programmatic digital video this year, and that over half of total programmatic digital display ad spending will go to video. Clearly, now is a critical time for advertisers to tune in!

In order to do so, advertisers must understand what programmatic video advertising is, the different types of programmatic video available to run in a DSP, and the advantages it can bring to media campaigns. Need a refresher? You’ve come to the right place!

What is Programmatic Video Advertising?

Programmatic video advertising leverages technology to buy and serve video ads that are shown during other video content. These ads may be served across exchanges or publishers, within traditional display ad slots, or across television devices.

There are two main buckets that programmatic video can be organized into: online video and advanced TV.

Online video:

Within the online video bucket, there are two different types to be aware of: instream and outstream video.

Instream video is served before (pre-roll), during (mid-roll), or after (post-roll) streaming video content. One example would be the ads that run before YouTube videos (if you’re not using an ad blocker extension, that is!)

Outstream video is served outside of video player environments. This type of ad unit typically includes less traditional video placements, such as:

Advanced TV:

Advanced TV is an umbrella term for TV that’s delivered outside of the traditional linear TV model. In general, advanced TV offers increased targeting and measurement when compared with linear TV. Advanced TV includes:

Benefits of Programmatic Video

While buying video programmatically comes with a variety of benefits, let’s review the top five:

1. Greater Targeting Precision

Advertisers can tap into first- and third-party data when buying video programmatically, which allows them to target their audiences more precisely.

2. Low Barrier to Entry

The use of programmatic technology means that advertisers don’t have to worry about high minimum spends or upfront contracts. In addition, since most programmatic inventory is sold on a dynamic CPM, any cost efficiencies that are driven via optimizations are passed right back into advertiser’s wallets.

3. Increased Scale

When an advertiser buys video programmatically, they get access to 40+ exchanges in one buy. In addition, thanks to the invention of cross-device targeting, advertisers can target a user who saw their video ad across multiple devices, allowing for higher frequency and greater recall of video messaging.

4. Greater Agility

Since advertisers don’t have to work with middleman publishers when buying programmatic video ads, they can quickly update their video messaging, turn off creative that’s not performing well, and change their targeting in real time.

5. Advanced Reporting

Buying video programmatically offers advertisers a suite of performance metrics to look at, plus the flexibility of slicing and dicing performance data by DMA, audience, and more. However, there can be limitations with reporting for advanced TV depending on how you end up buying the inventory—if you’re buying traditional TV spots, for example, you won’t be able to track things like click-through-rate or viewability.

Of all the different ways advertisers can leverage programmatic video, connected TV advertising is becoming increasingly important. CTV is leading the significant growth of digital video ad spend, and has been particularly impactful in the 2022 US election cycle.

Now that you know all about programmatic video and its benefits, take your knowledge to the next level by diving into our guide to connected TV advertising!

Each month, Basis Technologies’ Programmatic 101 series tackles a different facet of programmatic advertising—from best practices for buyers, to competitors in the space, to trends you should know.

Looking to kickstart a career in digital media? You’ve made a good choice: from the metaverse, to live sports, to TikTok, there’s a lot to get excited about. Plus, it’s an industry that’s forecasted to see steady growth in years to come.

For digital media associates, understanding the basics when it comes to programmatic is a must. To help guide your career journey, we’ve outlined the top three skills digital media associates should have in order to run successful programmatic campaigns:

1: How to Align Business Goals with Digital KPIs

The most important part of any programmatic campaign is ensuring that a client’s business outcome (increasing market share, driving more traffic to a website, etc.) is translated to the correct digital key performance indicator (KPI).

For example, a client’s goal may be to increase their reach in a new market—but reach isn’t a key performance indicator you can optimize towards within a DSP. You can achieve a similar goal by instead using KPIs like eCPM, which estimates how much revenue is generated per thousand impressions, or delivery, which shows how effectively your ads are being delivered within your chosen tactics.

For a traffic or consideration campaign, the business outcome may be to increase site traffic, but if you don’t control for cost then you’ll likely end up spending a lot of money on just a couple of site visits. To track traffic while controlling for cost, a DSP campaign can be optimized towards a cost-based KPI such as cost-per-click or cost-per-landing page view.

For the same reason, it’s important to control for cost if you hear a client say they want to drive more sales. To avoid spending your whole budget on just a few sales, you can use KPIs like Return on Ad Spend or Cost-Per-Acquisition to track sales while spending efficiently.

2. How to Use Programmatic Ad Types Strategically

Let’s discuss three of the main formats to consider when building out a programmatic strategy: audio, video (this includes CTV), and display (this includes interstitial and native advertising). We’ll break down why each format should be used, when it should be used, and some of the strategy red flags to keep an eye out for.


Use Case: According to eMarketer, digital audio will account for 12.7% of overall media time among US adults. That’s more time than US adults will spend on social media networks or watching video on their mobile devices! No wonder audio is digital advertising's fastest growing category. Plus, it's one of the last ad types that isn’t affected by ad blockers.

Best Used For: Awareness campaigns whose KPIs are focused on reach or completion rates.

Strategy Red Flags: Audio shouldn’t be used as the main ad format to drive conversion. While significant progress has been made with campaign-specific promotional codes and custom landing pages, advertisers should always complement audio placements with display ads to help drive efficiency and scale.


Use case: In 2022, nearly 84% of all US households will use a connected TV.  And according to eMarketer, 2022 is the first year that video will surpass non-video formats in programmatic ad spending, largely due to the rise in connected TV ad spend.

Best used for: Like audio, video is best used for awareness campaigns whose KPIs are focused on reach or completion rates. In addition, video is great for brands and products that benefit from visual storytelling to communicate brand differentiators or explain a nuanced product.

Strategy red flags: Comparing programmatic video performance to social video performance is a big red flag. Unlike other channels (who have companion banners or specific call to action buttons), programmatic video and connected TV are consumed before or in the middle of other content. While these videos are great for awareness, consumers are unlikely to leave their content to go complete an action on a website, making them an inefficient way to drive conversions.


Use case: Display ad spend saw huge growth in 2021, and is forecasted to increase by 20.9% in 2022, according to eMarketer. Native ads are particularly well-positioned to deliver higher click-through rates, because their blended-in feel helps to combat banner blindness.

Best used for: While display can be used for any objective, it’s best suited for driving an action, as consumers are used to clicking on a display ad to learn more about a product.

Strategy red flags: When display creative doesn’t have a strong call to action or when the same display creative is being used month-over-month. As a best practice, display creative should be updated every 4-6 weeks, even if it’s a simple CTA or image change.

3. How to Troubleshoot Delivery Issues

There’s nothing worse than taking the time to build out a campaign, upload and map all the creative, and set it live…only to find it isn’t spending. If your daily budgets are not being met, we’ve created this helpful checklist for you to run through.

Set Up:



Wrapping Up

Want more resources to achieve your digital media career goals? AdTech Academy provides curated learning paths that are designed to bolster your industry knowledge around certain topics and industry roles.

Check out AdTech Academy’s learning path for Digital Media Associates here!

Each month, Basis Technologies’ Programmatic 101 series tackles a different facet of programmatic advertising—from best practices for buyers, to competitors in the space, to trends you should know.

Programmatic is dominating digital. According to eMarketer, it will account for over 90% of display ad spending this year—and the tide is rising for other digital channels as well, including both linear and connected TV. 

But as programmatic has brought automation, transparency, and accessibility to the advertising landscape, that same landscape has grown increasingly competitive. To cut through the noise, it's imperative that programmatic media buyers don’t “set and forget” their campaigns. 

To that end, let’s walk through four of the most common mistakes media planners and buyers make when it comes to programmatic advertising—and how to avoid them. 

1. Launching Without a "Test and Learn" Plan

One of the many advantages of a programmatic campaign is the amount of targeting, creative, and inventory that’s available. This variety allows advertisers to test hypotheses around their target audiences, creative formats, and messaging. Unfortunately, when effective controls aren’t set up in the building phase of a campaign, these tests can quickly become underfunded or inconclusive. 

Instead of winging it, advertisers can succeed by: 

2. Utilizing Too Many Providers and Segments  

When building a programmatic tactic, it can be tempting to layer on a variety of targeting options to ensure that each dollar is spent as efficiently as possible. What advertisers might not realize, however, is that low scale, the use of multiple data providers, and Boolean logic (a fancy way of referencing the selection of "and” or “or” between segments) are the top three ways to drive up CPM and negatively impact performance.  

Instead, advertisers should always look to use the same data providers, and default Boolean logic to "or” whenever possible. They should also keep an eye on formats that can be difficult to scale within smaller geotargets (zip code, city, small DMAs), such as audio

3. Assigning Multiple KPIs To the Same Tactic   

While programmatic advertising can address all aspects of the funnel, it’s important to understand where each tactic can work best. For example, contextual targeting is great way to drive consideration or purchase, while prospecting should be utilized to cast a wide net for awareness. On the other hand, the audio format isn’t well suited to a cost-per-acquisition KPI, and first-party audiences shouldn’t be held to an efficient CPM. 

Instead of assigning multiple KPIs to the same tactic, advertisers should differentiate accordingly. For example, create one line item that’s focused on awareness-driving tactics and formats, and a separate line item that’s focused on driving conversions and executing against first-party data.  

4. Optimizing Without a Schedule  

Advertisers spend a significant amount of time evaluating what KPIs and benchmarks should be used, but often don’t spend enough time outlining what types of optimizations will be made and when.  

Instead of skipping your optimization plan, we recommend adhering to minimal optimizations (pacing, bids, and line items) daily and focusing on creative and tactic optimizations on a weekly to bi-weekly cadence. This presents an opportunity to align the campaign’s “test and learn” plan with its optimization schedule to ensure there is enough time to apply learnings to drive performance.  

Programmatic Advertising Best Practices—Wrapping Up 

Programmatic has revolutionized the advertising space, but the sole incorporation of programmatic technology isn't a silver bullet for winning campaigns. By avoiding these four “no-no’s,” advertisers will be well on their way to programmatic success.


Want to learn more about programmatic best practices? Check out AdTech Academy, a learning hub designed to demystify all things adtech!

Each month, Basis Technologies’ Programmatic 101 series tackles a different facet of programmatic advertising—from best practices for buyers, to competitors in the space, to trends you should know.

Isn’t it strange that, in the age of Alexa and robot waiters, the majority of advertisers have to wrangle nine separate platforms to manage a typical ad campaign?

It’s true that our industry has seen great advancement in the realm of automated media buying, namely via the adoption of programmatic advertising. But along with programmatic’s many benefits has come the need for more talent, platforms, and integrations. The marketing landscape is fragmented and complex, yet few brands and agencies have adopted technology designed to manage that complexity.

Enter the missing link: Advertising automation. What is it, what benefits does it offer, and what does it look like in practice? Read on to find out.

What is Advertising Automation?

The phrase “advertising automation” describes a variety of technologies and methodologies designed to streamline the entire lifecycle of a campaign. That’s right—the entire lifecycle! These tools encompass everything from planning and buying, to optimization and analytics, and even reporting and financial reconciliation.

What does advertising automation look like in action? Here are a few examples:

The cumulative effect of these automated solutions creates organizational agility, cost-efficiency, and time savings for brands and agencies. It also makes marketers’ jobs more enjoyable by eliminating frustrating manual tasks.

Benefits of Advertising Automation

Now that we know what advertising automation is and what it looks like, let’s dig a little deeper into the benefits it offers. The combined impact of tools like bid shading, machine learning, and automated reporting produce two main benefits: Time savings and cost-efficiency.

Time Savings

Advertising automation technologies save time by eliminating the need for humans to perform tedious and error-prone tasks, handing those tasks off to technologies that can execute them quickly and without error. Marketing teams that invest in advertising automation platforms are more efficient: Case in point, Forrester Research found that agencies who implement Basis see, on average, a 35% increase in digital team efficiencies.

Take, for example, the consumer expectation for personalized media. According to Salesforce, 70% of consumers report that a company understanding how they use products and services is very important to winning their business. Yet delivering personalized customer experiences in the age of ever-increasing media fragmentation and complexity is a tall order. Marketers must build creative variations, target audiences precisely, and deeply understand cross-channel campaign performance. Here are a few examples of how the process of personalization is streamlined in an advertising automation platform:

First, marketers can use dynamic creative optimization (DCO), combined with customer data, to automatically generate thousands of ad variations. Once the campaign is live, they can leverage automated reporting to quickly communicate performance to stakeholders. Best of all, workflow automation unites the entire campaign process—planning, negotiating, buying, reporting, analytics, optimizations, and billing—into one platform, removing the need for marketers to waste time switching between systems as they balance the nuances of a personalized approach.


Beyond freeing up time for marketers to tackle more high-level, strategic tasks, advertising automation increases cost-efficiency for brands and agencies in a variety of ways.

Consider the impact of the following automated solutions across a campaign’s lifecycle: First, automated bidding solutions assess the optimal dollar amount to spend on each impression. While the campaign is running, AI-powered budget pacing monitors budget spend and alerts advertisers of significant over- or underspend. Simultaneously, built-in protections automatically safeguard against ad fraud. Together, these and many other aspects of holistic advertising automation ensure precision in campaign bidding, performance, and optimization.

The cost-efficiency offered by advertising automation extends to reducing the high costs of employee turnover as well. Organizations that implement advertising automation reduce the number of hours marketers must spend each week on tedious, manual tasks, and provide the opportunity for strategic, fulfilling work. In turn, organizations retain their best marketers for longer periods of time.

How to Automate Your Advertising       

For over twenty years, Basis Technologies has been on a mission to create a better industry for advertising professionals via advertising automation. Our team is constantly working on new platform tools and features that eliminate manual tasks and boost efficiency for our partners.

Want to learn more about how automation will shape the future of digital advertising? Check out our guide, Meeting the Moment with Advertising Automation.

Each month, Basis Technologies’ Programmatic 101 series tackles a different facet of programmatic advertising—from best practices for buyers, to competitors in the space, to trends you should know.

With the introduction of programmatic media, brands and advertisers suddenly had access to an overwhelming number of options. Whether it be the rolodex of publishers to work with, the various data points available for targeting, or the sheer number of key performance indicators (KPIs) they could measure, there were a lot of decisions to make—and brands and advertisers needed help sifting through all the options.

Bid automation software was developed to answer this call for help. New algorithms and software were created to take on some of the manual work initially required of media buyers, quickening and streamlining the process of programmatic bidding.

Read on to learn what automated bidding is and what benefits it offers, and to explore a few examples of what automated bid management looks like in context.

How is Automated Bidding Different from Manual Bidding?

Manual bidding is when a buyer sets the price of how much they are willing to bid on an impression. Generally, the buyer will use historical performance or will manually pull reports each week to assess eCPM, or effective cost-per-thousand impressions.

Automated bidding strategies, on the other hand, allow technology to decide how much a brand should bid to achieve their goal. The technology can ingest various data points in real time and use that information to update the bid price. That doesn't mean that bidding is out of the media buyer's hands, by any means—in fact, it gives them back the time they would have spent manually assessing reports to better control and optimize high-level strategies.

Benefits of Automated Bidding

The biggest advantage of automated bidding strategies is their time- and cost- efficiency. With bidding automation, buyers don’t have to manually pull reports and analyze the data to confirm if their bid is set at the right price. Some automated strategies even ingest high-quality data that isn’t readily available to brands or advertisers—such as historical campaign performance, auction insights, or time of day—adding an extra layer of intelligence and depth to their decision-making.

How Does Automated Bidding Work?

To illustrate what bidding automation looks like in practice, here are a few examples of automated bidding strategies available within Basis:

Algorithmic optimization (AO) seeks out which inventory is performing best for each tactic included in a campaign. Marketers can set the algorithm to focus on either placement-level or domain-level data. After a learning period, AO adjusts the bid prices depending on how a particular domain and/or placement is performing. It can either increase the bid or stop bidding altogether on under-performing domains and placements.

Machine Learning Optimization (MLO) is a model-based solution that leverages artificial intelligence to optimize towards a campaign’s desired KPI. MLO analyzes data from more than thirty tactic parameters, at the brand level, and dynamically creates models in real-time that determine how much a tactic should bid on each impression based on the likelihood that it will result in the desired outcome—whether that be clicks, conversions, video completions, or viewability.

Bid Shading utilizes an algorithm to analyze historical bid data and determine a minimum price that is lower than the default CPM bid, while maintaining a high probability of winning the auction. Bid shading provides time savings and cost efficiencies that make it a no brainer for programmatic.

Bid Multipliers allows a single tactic to submit various bids based on how the parameter is performing. For example, let’s say a buyer notices that desktop inventory is leading to more conversions. Bid multipliers allow buyers to set rules so that when a desktop impression appears, the technology will automatically bid higher to ensure the impression is won. In the same vein, buyers can also decrease bids for inventory, domains, frequency, or creative if they are under- performing.

Automated Bidding Strategies—Summing Up

Put simply, automated bidding strategies leverage technology to help buyers make informed decisions about their bids. As a result, buyers can:

Curious to learn more? Check out our guide, Meeting the Moment with Advertising Automation, to learn about the many variations of automation, and how they serve to improve the lives of media professionals.

Each month, Basis Technologies’ Programmatic 101 series tackles a different facet of programmatic advertising—from best practices for buyers, to competitors in the space, to trends you should know. Check out last month’s post to learn about the art and science of cross-device targeting! 

The emergence of demand side platforms (DSPs) in 2007 triggered a renewed focus on buying audiences, rather than websites. Suddenly, brands could follow consumers across websites. Now, we're even able to track users across all their connected devices.  

Having access to audience data is a targeting goldmine. However, when that data isn’t used strategically, it can lead to waste, high CPMs, and poor campaign performance. Below, we’ve put together a little cheat sheet for how to approach KPIs and targeting based on campaign objectives. 

Targeting recommendations based on campaign goal

Objective 1: Awareness and Engagement  

If the objective is to increase awareness and engagement, you want to expose a brand or product to as many people as possible. This is the first step to driving consumers through an action or purchase cycle. The focus should be on reaching as many people as possible while starting to build up first-party audiences—a method of understanding your customers that’s increasingly important as the industry moves away from third-party cookies.  

Recommended Key Performance Indicator(s):  

When planning for how to measure the success of an awareness or engagement campaign, viable KPIs include the following (hint: these KPIs also illustrate the type of creative mediums brands should be developing): 

Recommended Programmatic Targeting:  

With an emphasis on reach and scale, programmatic buyers should focus on targeting tactics that are as broad as possible. Common targeting tactics include prospecting, demographic targeting, and native.  

Objective 2: Traffic and Consideration 

Unlike the early days of marketing, where consumers acted in a linear fashion, the path to purchase today can be quite circular—with customers moving from awareness, to lead, back to consideration, and then back to awareness. What we know for sure is that prospects who visit a brand’s website are more likely to convert than those who don’t, so marketers must be hyper-focused on driving quality site traffic as efficiently as possible.  

Recommended Key Performance Indicator(s):  

When determining if a traffic or consideration campaign is effective, buyers use a cost-based KPI such as: 

Recommended Programmatic Targeting:  

With the introduction of cost-based KPIs, it’s important to ensure a campaign has the right balance between refined targeting (such as contextual targeting (a great cookieless option that’s having a moment), hyperlocal, behavioral targeting, private marketplace deals (PMPs) or custom site lists (CSL)), and email targeting and cost. Keep in mind that options like PMPs, CSLs, and email tend to have higher CPMs.  

Objective 3: Conversion and Action 

If a brand has utilized the above objectives effectively, a conversion campaign’s focus is to drive an online or offline action from an audience that’s not only aware of the brand, but has already engaged.  

Recommended Key Performance Indicator(s):  

As you can imagine, the KPIs for a conversion or action objective are focused on efficiency. But unlike traffic and consideration, the conversion objective is focused on driving a specific outcome. Recommended KPIs include: 

Recommended Programmatic Targeting:  

By the time a brand gets to the conversion and action phase, all audience testing/building is complete— allowing brands to really focus in on their targets. These tactics include retargeting (whether it be display/video/location/search or click) and first- party audiences (CRM lists, lookalike modeling, etc.).  

Things to Keep in Mind:  

Now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s important to acknowledge that there will always be targeting tactics that can be used across objectives. For example, one could argue that retargeting benefits all KPIs—or that prospecting can be used as an audience-builder for awareness objectives but can also be used to drive down overall eCPMs for a conversion-based campaign.  

The questions marketers must ask are: why am I using this tactic? What is its purpose in supporting my objective? Will the scale or cost of this tactic impact performance? When KPIs or targeting mixes are held to this level of scrutiny, marketers are well on their way to driving success for clients.  

Looking for more programmatic training? You’ve come to the right place: Check out Basis Technologies’ free Programmatic Advertising Course

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