Final Warning: Big Data & Programmatic Are No Longer Optional

If you are spending more than $5,000 per month on advertising, then it’s time to wise up. And for any agency, especially creative, this is even more critical. Plainly said, programmatic advertising is an absolute must in your portfolio of skills and marketing efforts.

Forget about pixels, cookies, real-time bidding (RTB), and all the tech talk behind programmatic and instead think “smart advertising.” I think the easiest way to define programmatic is basically this: serving an ad that has the best chance of being relevant, timely, and click-worthy for your intended audience. Essentially it’s matching the user’s behavior with your spending and targeting plans.

For all of you questioning “big data,” this is yet another example of how our world is irreversibly changed toward mainstream adoption of it – and big data’s clear success. Retargeting, predictive lead scoring, big data, and programmatic platforms are creating the winners in nearly all categories of online retail, B2B, and services verticals. Harness programmatic (and its data) and win, or ignore it and fail…possibly to the detriment of major market share.

Let’s take a simple example:

Dumb Marketing: We can decide to spend $50,000 around the concept of “Digital Marketing Training” as our focus root keyword, and see what our click-through rate (CTR) and conversion rates are. This is akin to the old billboard on the highway…hoping we can catch the right person to notice us.

Smart Marketing: OR find some really targeted sites that fit our user persona of “agency digital marketing leaders,” with users that have shown interest in learning digital marketing – and get the best price possible for that user we’re targeting. Then we optimize on the fly based on our CTR and conversion rates. Now, we’re serving the ad based on intent, profile of driver, and ultimately the person behind that wheel.

As you can see, you are likely to spend a lot less, for much higher conversion rates, simply because you are using data on users to give them the right ad at the right time. Not only does it give you much higher return – it will actually save you money in the form of advertising dollars.

How to Get Over the Learning Curve

Really, it’s not actually that hard. And if taken as an incremental improvement to your existing ads, social, and content marketing efforts, you’ll find it much easier to bite off.

  1. First, think old-school direct marketing. Direct in the sense that you can simply pick your most profitable target audience, and segment campaigns and messaging for those folks.
  2. Second, map back to your content marketing plan, where you’re already thinking about how your blog posts, tweets, Facebook posts, and the variations of your big content efforts (e.g. a big e-book download) manifest. You just need to add the layer of ad creative and ad text for these audiences. Frequency of social media pushes should help here.
  3. Last, think hard about how you want to measure success. Consider a good attribution model and how this fits in. Is it awareness you’re looking for? Impressions to the right audience can, alone, be hugely valuable. Is it building your cookie pool and getting them to your site for an interesting page of content? Is it capturing a lead for good list-building, or are you really trying to go for the direct sale? If the last, keep in mind how many touches it will take to get there.

With some clear goals, simple iterations of existing content efforts, and a little forethought around direct marketing segmentation, programmatic big data nirvana will be well within reach, even if this is completely new territory for you.

Start simple and then improve and adjust over time, as you track results. And yes, this can get very interesting, and very complex fast… so if you get excited about exploring those possibilities then dive right in – and if not, start by sourcing it to your agency, platform provider, or even a new hire. It will pay off.

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