Digital Dilemmas: automated advertising

Digital Dilemmas: automated advertising

This month our digital expert outlines the whys and wherefores of automated advertising and programmatic buying.

Q: How can I get the most return from my real-time bidding and programmatic buying?

A: For the second time in three months, research firm eMarketer has adjusted upward its forecast for the growth of real-time bidding, to 29%of total digital spend within the next three years.

Agencies and advertisers are leading this growth, and more people seem to be saying that, as we move into 2014, if you don’t "get" programmatic, you risk being left behind completely.

The fact is, you’d be forgiven for not knowing your programmatic real-time bidding ad automation strategy from your elbow. To be blunt, this is a corner of the industry that is awash with jargon so, let’s start by cutting through the TLAs.

The automation bit in ‘"ad automation" is, quite simply, just about bringing media processes up to date, and freeing up people to focus their time on higher-value, creative solutions.

More than that, for advertisers, where this gets revolutionary is in the fact that real-time bidding (RTB) allows you to buy impression by impression – as opposed to the 1000-banner CPM system of old.

In other words, buying advertising programmatically enables you to reach only those audiences you wish to target, and promises a real and viable solution to the old, old problem of 50% of adspend supposedly going to waste.

Getting started: a four-point plan

There are a few practical steps you can take to get started with automated advertising.

1. Talk to your agency – all the major holding groups have their own real-time-bidding buyer departments, aka agency trading desks. Get to grips with how they work, the costs and the potential benefits.

2. Work out where programmatic buying might fit within your overall ad strategy and across which media (desktop, mobile, video… even radio, print and outdoor). Added to that, understand what types of creative can be automated, and
how your agency might be able to use programmatic buying as part of cross-channel campaigns.

3. If in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask people to speak in plain English. As a still-nascent space, we often have multiple terms for the same thing.

4. People who will sell to you are 10 a penny, so seek out those partners who will do just that – partner you on developing your strategy, providing constant, patient support and consultative advice.


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