Jun 9 2015
Basis Technologies

Moving into Programmatic? Avoid These Six Mistakes


The age of programmatic advertising has arrived. First fueling real-time bidding on advertising exchanges, programmatic is now driving the growth of multi-channel advertising across mobile devices, social media platforms and desktop display. It’s opened up exciting new opportunities for marketers to target precisely, spend wisely and operate more efficiently. But you need to be smart about how you navigate this new landscape – and knowing what not to do is a great way to start. Let’s take a look at six of the most common mistakes we’ve seen from programmatic newbies.

Mistake #1: Not working with a DSP

Core to any modern programmatic strategy is finding the right demand-side platform (DSP) to work with. The technology can empower you to bid, buy, and place digital advertising across multiple exchanges, in a variety of formats, and on multiple channels (video, mobile, display), all via one platform. In the same way that search engines use keywords, a DSP uses behavioral and demographic data to help you target ads to specific audiences. Using this level of data and insight gains you access to your consumers in the right context at the right moment. What’s more, DSPs allow you to optimize your campaign tactics in real-time, which means you only buy what works. This technology is not for the marketer who wants a “set it and forget it” strategy. It’s for those that want to take control of their digital advertising to maximize results and drive real business outcomes.

Mistake #2: Failing to optimize your campaign

With great power comes great responsibility – especially in the programmatic era. Automation does not mean automatic, so you should expect to continually evaluate and optimize your campaigns to maximize performance. Algorithms can only do so much, as digital advertising campaigns require human eyes and attention to meet and exceed expectations. You’ll need to consider channel, audience, creative, price, clicks, conversions, viewability and a host of other metrics in order to move towards a successful business outcome. You’ll have to be constantly evaluating and optimizing your campaigns in order for them to reach their full potential. Think about it as the control and transparency you’ve always wanted.

Mistake #3: Not having clearly defined KPIs

Without clearly defined KPIs – which should be a mandatory part of any initial needs assessment – it’s hard, if not impossible, to make intelligent decisions when it comes to devising the right mix of tactics for your campaign. You need to be measuring everything you can possibly measure but don’t confuse a data point like CTR with a KPI. This is especially true in programmatic buying environments since these are rich with reporting data. Lastly, without meaningful metrics, any campaign manager or programmatic buyer will be flying blind when it comes to how they optimize campaigns because they won’t have any guidance. For example: “increase brand awareness” is not a clearly defined KPI, nor is “drive more sales.” Those are objectives and business outcomes. Rather you need to be looking for the metrics that point towards and influence outcomes like driving more sales.

Mistake #4: Not bringing the programmatic expertise “in-house”

We know what you might be thinking – “I don’t know anything about programmatic and neither does anyone on my team!” Put those concerns aside, because when it comes to programmatic, you don’t have to go at it alone. As DSP adoption grows (see mistake #1), and marketers recognize the need to optimize for results (see mistake #2), more and more businesses know they need to groom a generation of programmatic experts. Most DSPs boast “white glove” service offering you everything from a fully managed relationship all the way to self-reliance – and everything in-between.  Leverage these flexible offerings to put your business on the path to self-sufficiency. Learn the ins and outs of building, managing, optimizing, and reporting on campaigns, while working with a team of experts to elevate your brand and build your own in-house programmatic team.

Mistake #5: Not having a plan to collect and leverage your first-party data

If programmatic is a fire, data is what fuels it. Your business almost certainly has first-party data just waiting to be tapped. This covers everything from web behavior to basic demographic information and even purchase patterns. Every day your business collects known and unknown visitor data through online and offline interactions with your brand. Having a plan to use this data to expand your knowledge of your audience is what will power your programmatic strategy. So before you jump on the programmatic bandwagon make sure you know what you’re collecting, where it’s stored, and how it can be activated to grow your business.

Mistake #6: Ignoring the multi-channel opportunity – desktop is no longer the only game in town

After data, there is nothing more important to a programmatic plan than your targeting tactics. The best thing about working with a DSP for your programmatic advertising is that you can now target across channels – display, mobile, social and video – that can be tailored and timed for your audience. One of the unique advantages with mobile is that it allows for extremely precise location targeting, while video offers that same precise, impression-level targeting, but with high-impact creative. Therefore, if you stick with just display, you are limiting yourself – and your business. Look into other channels and test what performs and what doesn’t. And be sure to always reserve room in your media plans for testing new channels and tactics – you never know where the next opportunity lies unless you test.