1) Have an API which is easy to use, preferably with a Wiki
The best programmatic advertising is the creative which is most customisable, dynamic and relevant to the customer. To really truly achieve that you need good, solid and up to date data to fuel the ads. You need the data you collect on site about your customer and their preferences to communicate with your API and trigger the information which will populate the ad templates. It is not an easy task and one which is often undertaken out of house by your digital marketing agency. Similarly, this will often manifest itself in difficult questions your agency will ask you, some that may make you feel inadequate about the knowledge you have of programmatic advertising. Don’t worry though, you aren’t alone.
The feed, its accessibility and the instructions you provide with it are so important. Having an API wiki will help third party agencies get your programmatic advertising off the ground quicker. Similarly having one which can provide as much information as possible about your product or service sets is important to providing a good user advertising experience. For example, definitely showcase how many are left in stock as limited stock items can create a sense of urgency. Do you have a price range? Showcase the from and to prices as in some cases users have a different equilibrium price that they are willing to pay.
No doubt you will have to work very collaboratively between your development teams, your agency or in house marketing team members to deliver this. Don’t be put off however, the hard work and set up will be worth it in the long run to ensure your customers get the products and services they want and they do so from your brand.
2) Regularly update your templates
Often the ad templates can look clunky and overcrowded. In the first instance you should try to create a template that can look as vibrant and personalised as possible. Otherwise the user will just see a mess of information in front of them and you will switch the user off immediately. As the old saying goes, ‘if everyone shouts then nobody listens.’
Create different variants of your chosen ad. Make different version based on your brand colour palette. Produce different versions with alternate layouts and messaging hierarchy. Consider versions with differing product info, for example some with price, some without, some with quantity and some without.
In all instances test, test, test, and when you have done that test again. Don’t just out your ads live and then take an approach of what we get is what we get. Iterate constantly and I guarantee you will learn and you will grow the channel to maximise efficiency and return on ad spend.
It is important whenever you refresh your brand attributes of colour, logo, fonts etc that you conduct all of the testing described above again so you don’t lose out on all of your efficiency gains from the old brand look and feel.
3) Measure post view sales and leads and factor it into your overall programmatic ROI
Woah, what’s post view? Post view is essentially when a user visits your site, you retarget them with a dynamic ad for one of your products, they see the ad but come back to your site to purchase either direct to the URL or via another channel. In this instance the ad could have had some ‘influence’ on the user in terms of their purchase decision. While your programmatic advertising didn’t deliver the full last touch sale, you should definitely factor that in to your understanding of the overall performance of the channel.
In the old days (not really so long ago), performance of display advertising lived and died on the almighty click. How many clicks am I getting? Which ad has the highest click through rate? How many sales did THIS AD drive me? Don’t get me wrong these are all important and you should indeed measure them. But know that globally less than 0.1% of banners are clicked on and as many as 60% of those clicks are said to be accidental.
Customers are increasingly asking brands to deliver them more conversational messages and to build a relationship with them. Suggestions that traditional banner ads will die, to me, is an interesting discussion point. That being said I am confident spend will decline by the largest brands in the world. For your average business it will continue at least for some time to be a core component of digital advertising. However, the winners will only be winners by differentiating and seeing display ads as an opportunity to continue to nurture your relationship with your customer.
4) No man/woman is an island
Further to measuring post view as a core component of success you need to be in the mindset that there is no silver bullet in marketing. No one channel should be viewed in isolation as to its successes and challenges. The best marketers will look at the whole marketing mix together, how each channel interacts with each other to deliver the best outcome. The best outcome isn’t a sale either. On the contrary the best marketers understand that all channels need to be in concert with each other to build, grow and nurture a longlasting harmonious relationship with a customer. If you live in a world where ‘banner A was clicked on by customer B and delivered a sale but affiliate partner C didn’t drive me a sale’, you’ve already lost.
5) Regularly monitor viewability
It is said that only 9% of banners are viewed for more than 1 second and in addition now 1 in 4 of us have ad blockers enabled on our browsers so viewability is key to success. In fact, Comscore state that as many as 50% of display impressions are not viewed by the intended audience. Do you know what your current viewability is? If not then you need to understand it and you should be buying ad space with the highest viewability possible. Otherwise, what’s the point?
It is clear that how marketers think about programmatic display advertising is and will continue to go through a period of change. It is in fact the main reason, as a marketing consultant, for my post, so that marketers can consider some of the immediate things that should be considered to get the best performance from campaigns. It is also clear that the odds are stacked against traditional programmatic banner ads because users simply aren’t interacting with them. As I said above, placements have been around since the dawn of the internet so I don’t foresee them going away, rather, as media owners and marketers we will evolve further. On both sides of the table that has to be done with the customer at the centre of any evolution.