Luxury brands can find a new path with programmatic

In the past, digital formats made it difficult for high-end brands to recreate the quality of their print and TV campaigns, writes the CEO of CreativeFeed

Like all digital shifts before it, programmatic media was not immediately embraced by most upmarket brands. Luxury has always been about the experience surrounding the purchase itself, and in the past, digital formats made it difficult for luxury brands to recreate the quality of their print and TV campaigns. Then, the emergence of programmatic brought with it another layer of uncertainty. There were justifiable concerns about quality and context of media placements, and these were fortified by revelations about viewability and accountability. But that’s all changing.

Programmatic spending in the U.S. is projected to reach $22.10 billion in 2016. It accounts for more than two-thirds of the total display ad spending, and it’s a jump of 39.7% over last year. And mobile advertising is driving it; mobile programmatic spending will reach $15.45 billion. There is also a great emphasis on videos. Programmatic video ad spending will reach $5.51 billion this year, and in 2017, mobile video programmatic ad spending is expected to exceed its desktop counterpart for the first time.

Everyone is heading in the direction of automation. With it comes more ad inventory in more diverse formats—some TV inventory is becoming available as programmatic; if an audience sees the ad on TV, it can followed up with a display ad on his/her Facebook feed. Programmatic is providing an almost full-funnel tracking and buying of media.

For years, prime media placement, mostly for print, only happened with deep pockets and long relationships. When digital emerged as a viable option, it was all about the value-add. However, this paradigm is shifting. Most digital media are becoming available programmatically, and with the availability of data and insights, programmatic enables brands to target consumers with a whole new level of complexity, as well as accuracy. And programmatic includes more than just media bought and sold on exchanges by algorithms. It includes the data trails left by visitors that can be mined for improvements in customer experience and remarketing. It also means more cost efficiencies, independent of deals and relationships. And it provides more choice—which device, platform, format, channel, methods of buying, and measurements.

Programmatic is enabling brands to reach their audiences through a wider network of publishers and engage them at any given point in time across devices and platforms. And these decisions can be made in real-time based on what will most likely drive results. 

The emergence of premium inventory made available through programmatic buying ensures brands can connect with their audiences in the right environment. Moreover, there is a whole high-impact category to consider; it is very suitable for luxury brands. They can engage the audiences with customized ad integrations such as "takeovers," or they can leverage more dynamic, innovative formats with an interactive campaign.

Take Burberry’s popular "Kisses" campaign, which was created last year in partnership with think with Google. The target audiences were served ads that gave an intimate prompt—use the camera to send your kisses to anyone you want. It was a great way to advertise while engaging the audiences, getting a larger group involved, and share the story of the brand.

Also, consider XOJet’s "Power to the Passenger" campaign. The potential audience for private aviation is approximately only 200,000 people. However, XOJet was able to tap into the premium inventory, serving high-impact ads to the right audience and at the right time. By injecting the ads with its brand humor on top of highlighting its offerings, XOJet was able to leverage programmatic advertising into a successful campaign.

High-end digital publishers are also leveraging programmatic advertising. Refinery29 recently sequenced ads to get better results. Prospects were first served an ad designed to build brand awareness, then one focused on product awareness and, finally, one with a call to action. The result was 87% more site visits and 56% more subscriptions than a group shown only ads with a call to action.

Luxury brands are starting to see results in digital with the quality media and cost efficiencies they desire. For those just testing the waters of programmatic, the trick is finding the right balance of maximum visibility, targeted messaging, and telling their authentic brand stories—challenges that should be familiar to any marketer. 

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