How to use programmatic advertising to increase your online sales

We now live in a digital era, and for those businesses that thought they could get away with traditional marketing practices only, the recent pandemic has taught them otherwise. To survive and maintain a competitive edge, companies must adapt to the ever-changing ways of digital marketing. While society and technology are advancing faster than our ability to exploit the corresponding change in consumer behaviour – a theory called Digital Darwinism, every business has become vulnerable. It’s now an adapt or die situation.

Digital marketing, in general, encompasses the use of the internet and other types of digital communication to promote brands and engage with potential customers online.  As a marketing channel, this comprises reaching out via email and social media, carrying out web-based advertising, and sending out text and multimedia communication. A very good example we are currently seeing is the Euro tournament preparation. The internet is awash with information on Euro 2021 groups, host cities, where tickets will be sold, fixture dates etc. In the process of getting your message across, a more personalised approach is said to be more poignant, allowing more sales and more significant revenues. This is where programmatic advertising then takes the cup.

Programmatic advertising uses data-driven insights to delight customers with a more personalised strategy that should get sharper with each engagement. The process involves automated buying and selling of advertising space, enabling businesses to go to market quickly and disrupt competition. In the UK alone, programmatic advertising now accounts for 90% of digital ad spend.

The technology behind programmatic advertising transforms the way brands communicate with their customers. It provides a more personalised brand experience that has been shown to help generate more online leads and sales conversions than any other digital display advertising approach now available. But do we completely understand how the process works in order to achieve this success?

Getting started with automated buying and selling of advertisements

Traditionally, as a marketing officer, you would get in touch with an advertising agency to negotiate the buying and selling of advertising space. Now, this is what has been automated by programmatic advertising. The process not only saves time, but brands are saving money too. Unlike traditional media plans in which demographics, ad placement, the ads themselves, CPMs, consumer reach, and ad placement frequency are pre-defined with known publishers, and scheduling is almost cast in stone while the marketing campaign is running, programmatic advertising is significantly different.  It will run its own race, particularly during the launch period.

Programmatic advertising uses data analytics when targeting customers; you can strategise and alter your KPIs along the way, thus becoming more efficient and improving your success rate. It’s not a simple task, though; you will need a clear roadmap for your business because some twists and turns in this rapidly evolving system could affect your results. Let’s delve deeper.

Step 1: Set your Key Performance Indicators

This step is as essential as it was in your traditional marketing efforts. You need to know what you want to achieve, so start by defining your goals. Does your brand need more awareness, do you need to reach out to new audiences, or do you simply want to decrease advertising spend while boosting your ROI?

Once you have established your SMART goals, determine how they will be measured – the ad attribution. It’s important to set up reliable measurement infrastructure as it will ultimately determine your success with this strategy.  Traditional first and last click attributions to trace sales or leads do not quite get the job done here.

Step 2: Determine your creatives

After you have your goals and KPIs in place, determine your ‘creatives’. These are your advertising mediums; either banner display ads, in-app ads, videos, native ads etc. Each one will allow you to interact with your customer base in a slightly different way, so you will need to choose one or more combinations that will best suit your goals.

Here’s a little detail on each of these mediums:

  • Video ads: videos give you the benefit of interacting with the consumers through sound, vision, movement and narrative. They give you a click-through rate (CTR) of about 0.2%. Remember to also pay attention to the view-through rate (VTR); that is the amount of full-views your video ad gets. VTR gives you a better understanding of how effective your reach was to your audience.
  • In-app ads: These are run on mobile apps and have a high CTR of about 0.58%. In-app adverts are a particularly successful way to market your own app by acquiring paid mobile users.
  • Native ads: These are adverts that blend in with the content of the site they are published on. They usually have a CTR of 0.2%. Native advertisements are especially effective at bringing in high-quality, targeted visitors to your website.
  • Banner ads: Banner ads are particularly useful for keeping your brand top of mind with consumers, and for educating new audiences about your brand. They are highly effective and efficient in reaching wider audiences and creating brand awareness. With a CTR of 0.7%, they are definitely worth exploring.

Step 3: Choose a demand-side platform (DSP)

Your ad spend is entirely up to you, and a DSP will enable you to keep track and control how much you are spending. When you start a campaign on a DSP, you define your bid, and then you compete for inventory with other advertisers. The impression will go to the highest bidder. Examples of DSPs are adform, theTradeDesk, Amazon DSP and Media Math.

Step 4: Define your target audience and prepare for launch

Your ads will need to reach the right people; that is the aim of targeting. Parameters like audience language and location are important to consider. You may also adjust your settings to target different search browsers, devices, and operating systems, depending on who you’re trying to reach. Once all that is done, check that every step we have discussed before is water-tight, then launch your campaign.

Step 5: Optimise, Evaluate and Fine-tune your campaign

Once the campaign is live, revisit your DSP for reports that include CPR, CPC, spend, and conversions. Use this data to quell any problems with the your strategies. Also test the campaign with frequency capping. This may save you some money as you limit the number of times an ad is shown to single users. Be careful to monitor the influence frequency capping will have on CTR and ROI. This will help you to find “sweet spots” where conversions are maximised and costs are kept to a minimum. The campaign is never ‘done’ in the sense of a defined duration- it’s a constant game of monitoring and evaluation and fine-tuning until the desired results.

Mastering programmatic advertising is definitely an expedition, but with patience and the appropriate attitude, it can be a highly profitable venture for any business. If you won’t do it yourself, seek out help from professionals and see the great difference it will make to your sales revenue.

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