Programmatic Advertising and Branding: A Love Story


Programmatic advertising is trending up as the new software to streamline digital marketing processes into an efficient, convenient methodology that limits time wasted to completing menial tasks.


The technology is relatively new to the industry, but it’s effectiveness as an automated real-time bidder has marketers excited about its possibilities. As we cited in an article on the subject last week, programmatic advertising “spend will continue growing at an average 28% a year to 2018, when it will reach $64 billion”, as well as growth of “31% next year, outpacing social (up 25%) and online video (20%).”


While programmatic has its drawbacks, with “23% of respondents in an eMarketer survey citing data privacy concerns and difficulty proving ROI”, those concerns have seemingly alleviated. In the same survey, marketers also listed the most crucial benefits to them:



Once marketers become more experienced using programmatic, we can expect widespread integration with the marketing components that turn a good campaign into a great one.


Branding is the key. “As Steve Katelman, EVP at Omnicom Media Group recently put it, ‘Historically most advertising dollars are spent on branding and awareness, so programmatic branding is evidence of programmatic growing up and assuming the future of all advertising and marketing.”


In the same breath, Katelman also predicted that “in five years time, it will be obvious to everyone that we’re living in a programmatic world and have been for a long time.”


The end game is the phasing out of traditional real-time bidding. It will inevitably be replaced with an automated process that’s able to pinpoint which ads go to the most receptive targets.


Its humble origins have led many to think programmatic’s initial affiliation with SEM, and its new segue into branding, was just the start:


“Programmatic started with SEM and display and rapidly expanded into new territories such as Social, Mobile and also Video. Marketers need more video inventory for programmatic branding to be on every media plan. The programmatic landscape is poised to touch on every single channel in the next few years and this includes TV, print, outdoor advertising. 


With the rise of connected cars, homes and cities, it’s just a matter of time we live in a programmatic world.”


There’s that phrase again. A programmatic world. That’s two separate industry sources expecting one. And they’re not wrong, either. Programmatic is gradually becoming mastered, thus leading to greater expansion, especially when integrating with social media’s best practices:


“On average, 40% of programmatic spending goes towards branding campaigns, with marketers expecting a 37% increase in their programmatic ad spend by 2017.” 


Almost two-thirds of marketers are using programmatic advertising for brand campaigns as opposed to direct response, according to the findings from our new Programmatic Branding Report.”

Advertisers have even used programmatic advertising for Super Bowl commercial time.


These are the two greatest trends of digital advertising melding together: The efficiency of programmatic advertising with the emotional appeal of branding told through storytelling.


Even we’ve tried it with ridiculously successful results. Our use of programmatic advertising with a Zumba video received 5X the engagement it had been receiving when promoted on YouTube.

Despite initial hesitation involving the creative aspect, as well as “the establishment of clear measurement and ROI metrics”, skeptics are buying in regardless:


“Instead of seeing programmatic as a threat to branding and creativity, buyers and sellers alike are increasingly casting themselves as advocates for automation. By using data to support creative intuition, it means that branding and technology can not only co-exist, but also push the boundaries of advertising into a whole new realm.”


The obvious fear behind automating something as sacred as the creative process could be rectified with this reassurance:


“Advertising automation does not diminish the capacity for creativity; rather, it gives brands the opportunity to be proactive instead of reactive. In short, automation offers immediacy and data to further fuel branding campaigns, and as the industry matures, there seems to be increasing consensus on this point.”


It’s coming to the point where a campaign’s creative efforts could be altered mid-stream:


“Changing the creative mid-stream, in response to how a campaign performs will become an automatic process. Rather than simply building a handful of creative executions and targeting them at pinpointed audiences, creative will be broken down into elements that can be automatically constructed for the specific viewer. It’s a process called programmatic creative and it’s the ultimate in personalization.”


Personalization is imperative in the creative process. Digital advertising is a burgeoning, inundating weight on the eyes and ears of consumers. It’s forcing advertisers to sift their way through the muck in order to have their brand seen by the most receptive audience.


How do you reach out to individuals? Call them out by name. It works:


  • “Personalized emails deliver six times higher transaction rates.”
  • “94% of customer insights and marketing professionals across multiple industries said personalization is ‘important’, ‘very important’, or ‘extremely important’ for meeting their current marketing objectives.”
  • “73% of consumers prefer to do business with brands that use personal information to make their shopping experiences more relevant.”
  • “86% of consumers say personalization plays a role in their purchasing decisions.”
  • “45% of online shoppers are more likely to shop on a site that offers personalized recommendations.”
  • “40% of consumer buy more from retailers who personalize the shopping experience across channels.”
  • “80% of consumers like when retailers emails contain recommended products based on previous purchases.”


But to reach the audience most ready to convert, programmatic is a necessity:


“This offers brands less wastage as they don’t have to pay to reach people who are not in their target market, a common criticism of traditional media buying…but crucially, programmatic also helps brands to learn more about their customers through data and build stronger links with them.

Programmatic can benefit brands in various ways, such as finding people that ‘look like’ their current customers, for instance those of similar age or interests, then serving ads to them on the sites they commonly visit at times they are most likely to be receptive to the message.”

So where do you start? Here are a few suggestions:


  1. Build brand awareness: Use upper-funnel content and formats to raise awareness of your brand.
  2. Change brand perception: Use retargeting based on brand affinity signals to change perception.
  3. Build brand affinity: Use CRM retargeting to strengthen the brand relationship between the consumer and the brand.
  4. Build brand engagement: Use look-alike targeting to find consumers who are going to engage similarly to your best consumers.


And always make sure to consider these variables when using programmatic for branding campaigns:


  1. Evolving KPIs: “Marketers need to change the conversations they’re having around KPIs. Newer platforms have access to huge under-saturated markets but may not have access to analytics.”
  2. New Creative: “Programmatic advertising is fast and furious, and because of that, agencies need to become more nimble about changing up creative and creating numerous iterations around one creative concept.”
  3. Programmatic Layer: “Because brand awareness advertising doesn’t have the same types of quantifiable performance metrics as direct marketing, it’s important to frame and consider it differently. This approach is best thought of as a complement and extension of traditional advertising campaigns. By giving markets the ability to focus their efforts, programmatic allows storylines from different channels to be presented to targeted audiences in a cost-effective way.”


Heed this advice, because if the trends, rise in investments, and trust implanted by industry experts are any indications of the future, it’s that programmatic advertising is not only here to stay, but will be deployed on a far larger scale.

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