Building Brands With Programmatic

Originally Published in: The Drum

April 13th, 2015

For all brands, maintaining a unified image is paramount. While many brands such as Kellogg’s, Unilever, and Heineken have embraced programmatic, there is still some uncertainty around how to harness the full potential of programmatic for branding purposes.

Traditional brand advertising budgets are beginning to shift. Forecasts by eMarketer show digital is dominating ad media spend and by 2018 digital ad spend in the U.S. will be 37.3% of total share, overtaking TV ad spend – with its predicted 35.7% share – for the first time ever. With this in mind, here are five recommendations for a successful brand campaign in programmatic.

Redefine Measurement

Traditionally, tracking success online has been measured through direct response metrics such as CPA (cost per acquisition), online sign ups or CPM (cost per thousand/mille). Similar to TV advertising, measuring online brand success is not always easy and needs a different approach to direct response metrics. Currently brand measurement uses eCPM (effective cost per mille) or CTR (click through rate), which do not provide a complete picture of campaign success. Marketers should look at brand metrics such as dwell time, frequency, and unique reach through private marketplace (PMP) inventory as opposed to applying performance metrics and clicks. Campaigns should not focus on the short term but instead set long-term objectives to gauge the true scale of campaign success.

Consider Specialized Formats

Utilize creative formats that offer maximum brand exposure. High impact units such as Skins and Rising Stars offer eye-catching non-intrusive branding awareness opportunities if setup correctly. Video can be embedded into these formats, which boasts 94% viewability delivering maximum audience impact. There are also opportunities for mobile display with use of rich media, interstitials, and social products, such as native and audience advertising through Facebook, which ensure brand continuity across devices.

Time Your Campaign

One of the strengths of programmatic is its ability to offer seamless cross-device messaging to consumers, touching audiences with contextually relevant creative in the right place at the right time. According to Millward Brown, 35% of consumers globally use multiple devices at one time. Using TV Sync to continue brand messages across devices ensures brands reach consumers where TV cannot.

Tell a Story

As with any successful advertising campaign, the power of a consumer connection lies in the story. Emotion is an important factor in determining the success of a brand’s engagement. Using the power of storytelling to engage audiences, Budweiser used an online-first approach to advertisement during this year’s Super Bowl for its ‘Lost Dog’ ad campaign. The brand released teasers to create buzz around the advert online in the weeks running up to the event, which won the hearts of the nation who ranked it the number one Super Bowl ad. Replicating the success of online-first for a second year running, Budweiser was able to maximize brand recognition and tap into emotive storytelling by launching a sequel, to its 2013 ‘Puppy Love’ Super Bowl commercial.

Similarly, realizing the potential of digital for storytelling and reach, since 2013 leading British retailer John Lewis has chosen a digital first approach to air its infamous Christmas campaign. One of the benefits John Lewis finds with this approach is a readily available search and browsing ability and increased social and viral potential. Within the first three hours alone, 2014’s Monty the Penguin ad racked up 49,562 tweets and #montythepenguin was the UKs number one UK trend within 90 minutes. While programmatic itself is not where the story is made, it is a toolbox for creative minds to use.

Programmatic provides marketers with the toolbox for delivering creative ad campaigns. Dynamic creative optimization (DCO) incorporates pre-written creative with a personalized consumer message, so you can also optimize your campaign according to weather, geography, gender, or to rotate product suite. The tailored message is chosen by predictive algorithms and further optimized by business analysts, ensuring the personalized touch and human element remains fundamental in digital advertising.

Be Brand Safe

Whatever the channel, a brand safe environment is a necessity. While the legacy perception of programmatic for remnant inventory is outdated, private marketplaces offer increased control over ad placement. While it may limit full reach potential and increase inventory base prices, premium programmatic ensures brands have a smaller but definite list of websites for their ads, and for some brands it is their first experience with programmatic. Whitelists and blacklists are also ways we ensure brand safety online.

But premium inventory prices are rising. Using our own business insights and a multi-DSP approach to compare market prices in the programmatic marketplace, we saw that from December 2013 to November 2014, the average cost for premium inventory has more than tripled from US $2.21 to US $8.07. One of the benefits a multi-DSP approach brings is a wide view of the market, enabling a dedicated team of analysts to move ad spend between platforms, and is essential for providing brands with the best possible return on investment.

It is the creative execution that connects to consumers emotionally – acting through one channel alone cannot build a brand. The use of programmatic as a vehicle for creativity mobilizes brands across devices and screens seamlessly as consumers digest content at the right place and time for them.

Written by:

Michelle Hilditch

VP Global Client Services


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