Before sharing them with you, we would like to highlight that although this article deals with programmatic advertising, many of the elements mentioned also apply to other types of digital advertising (paid search, non-programmatic ad buying, paid social media, etc.), in particular with regard to machine learning, creating effective ads or identifying objectives. Be sure to keep these elements in mind for all your future campaigns.
Without further ado, here are our five top tips to ensure the success of your programmatic advertising campaigns.
1. Allow enough time for the algorithms to do their job
Programmatic advertising is based on artificial intelligence and machine learning. This means that the technological tools are designed to optimize advertising campaigns in real time.
Based on user response to your ads, the machine learns which creatives perform best, the types of people likely to click on your ads, the ideal time to serve your impressions and many other factors essential to your campaign success. Each interaction is an opportunity for the algorithms to learn and improve.
You should therefore always plan for a learning phase at the beginning of the campaign, during which the campaign will adapt to your audience and your objective. This is why it is quite normal that the results will not live up to your expectations during the first few days of the campaign.
As a general rule, there is no need to worry if the results are not satisfactory during the first two weeks of the campaign. If the situation continues beyond that period, then it’s time to start asking questions.
Given that the learning and optimization period is two weeks, it is clearly not ideal to roll out a new campaign every month. Rather than launching short campaigns on a regular basis, consider spreading your campaigns over longer periods to take full advantage of the algorithm’s refinement capabilities.
If you have a good advertising budget and you advertise year-round, opt for the deployment of a longer campaign rather than several different campaigns over the same period. You can do so by changing creatives and increasing the daily expenditure during promotional periods (which would normally be campaigns) and reducing the number of creatives and the daily budget between these periods.
This will allow you to keep the campaign active throughout the year, ans thus maintain the optimization gains while letting the algorithms learn over a very long period of time.
2. Design a (very) wide variety of creative content pieces
The algorithms continuously test your creative content to keep only the best performing pieces and to serve the range most suited to each visitor. It is therefore essential to have a large number of ads to put online at the beginning of the campaign.
We suggest that you design three to five creatives, each with a different message and in as many standard IAB sizes as possible. This way, you won’t miss any opportunity to reach a potential buyer. For example, if a qualified user visits a page and a skyscraper is the only format available, but you don’t have it in your library, you won’t be able to serve an impression to that user.
A few common IAB standard sizes
Here are a few ways to diversify your creatives:
- Change the format (ex. Leaderboard vs Skyscraper)
- Change the visual (ex. product photo on its own vs photo with people)
- Change the promotion (ex. a 2-for-1 offer vs. a free trial)
- Change the title (ex. title with a call to action vs. funny title)
Even if you serve an impression to the right person at the right time, your efforts will be in vain if the advertisement fails to arouse their interest. Always pay close attention to your visuals and follow the basic rules of good advertising:
- Communicate a single message that can be easily understood at first glance
- Share a clear offer or value proposition
- Use action verbs
- Add a call-to-action button
- Use the simplest possible texts and visuals
Keep in mind that animated ads generally perform better than static ads. Finally, always look to a professional to create your ads.
3. Determine your objective and KPIs before launching the campaign
The strategic objective of a campaign greatly influences its deployment. It determines, among other things, the campaign’s programming strategy, the pixel layout and how the campaign will be optimized.
So ask yourself: what you are trying to accomplish with your campaign? Do you want to expand your database? Do you want to increase your brand awareness? Generate more sales? All these objectives are very different and require an adapted initial strategy.
Then ask yourself how your goal translates into online action. For example, if you want to generate qualified leads, this may be done by getting people to download premium content, such as a webinar or white paper, by filling out a form. The digital objective of your campaign becomes getting as many forms filled out as possible.
You can also identify secondary success indicators (KPIs) that will help you to better measure the success of your campaign. If we take our example of form completion, your secondary KPIs could be the time spent on your page or the bounce rate.
Finally, remember that a good digital media partner should always discuss your objectives with you at the beginning of the campaign. They will also need to understand your user journey and the actions they want people to take on each page in order to properly set up their strategy.
4. Clearly define your audiences
This advice may seem pretty obvious, but surprisingly, very few marketers have an in-depth knowledge of their audience. Do you know exactly who your customers are? How old are they? Where do they live? What are their interests?
The best way to determine your audiences is to have a CDP (Customer Data Platform), a platform that aggregates all your sources of user data (data from your site, your CRM, your loyalty programme, second- or third-party data, etc.) combined with a DMP (Data Management Platform), which is used to define your audience segments for your campaigns.
We suggest you segment your audience into different categories in order to develop a message adapted to each profile. You can divide them into age groups, geographical location, interests or online behaviour.
Also consider segmenting your retargeting audiences based on the behaviour of your website visitors. This will allow you to deploy different campaigns for people who have visited your site and left immediately, those who have consulted several pages without making a purchase, those who have filled their shopping cart without completing the transaction and those who regularly make purchases on your platform.
As third-party cookies are on the verge of extinction, do you wonder about the future of programmatic advertising? We discuss this topic in our article “Who’s afraid of programmatic advertising?“.
5. Test different partnerships simultaneously
During a campaign, rather than placing your entire budget on a single media platform, we suggest that you divide it among several suppliers who will deploy the campaign at the same time. Why should you do this? Because each supplier has different data, strategies and technological tools that will influence the results of the campaign.
By testing them simultaneously, you will be able to see which campaigns work best, pull money out of the worst performing ones and inject more money into the best performing ones.
This is THE best strategy to increase your campaign results. Of course, if you have a limited budget, we do not advise you to divide it between five suppliers, but rather, suggest to try at least two different ones.
Please note: Even if a provider performs less well, this does not mean that you should forget it for all your future campaigns. In a few months, it may have acquired more relevant data on your target or developed new tools that will allow you to obtain much more interesting results.
In short, the success of programmatic advertising depends largely on the strategic thinking you do beforehand. These five tips should help you better plan your campaigns and take full advantage of this advertising method.
For even more tips and tricks, check out the other articles in our digital marketing series: