How to make programmatic advertising work for you

Jess Pike speaks to the experts to find out what it takes to make a success of programmatic, what to consider before you select a provider and how to seize back some buyer control.

So if the programmatic pros outweigh the cons (and many brands, despite the naysayers, do continue to invest), how do you go about selecting a provider? Many purport to offer the same benefits, so it’s only until you get under the metaphorical hood that you’re really able to differentiate. “Even then it might be a bit tricky,” points out Alina Morkin, VP marketing at Voices.com. “One of the main things that determines their success is the effectiveness of their algorithm, but that’s a bit of a black box because each is proprietary.”

So what can you reasonably expect to judge them on? Well, first consider past successes and customer testimonials; then evaluate whether they’ll be able to provide you with metrics you need. Is the ramping up period fast enough for you? When the algorithm’s optimised, what’s the anticipated click through and subsequent conversion rate? “Ensure you have visibility into what is happening, and expectations around what you should be seeing and when,” says Alina. “Check that the pixel being used doesn’t have an impact on your site load times. (A pixel is a little snippet of code that’s dropped onto a visitor's browser, so you can track whether they’ve viewed or clicked on an ad or message, and made a purchase.) And bear in mind the fact that the more specific your customer – and the less traffic you have currently from that type of person – the longer the ramp time (ie. spend with little to show for it).”

It’s also worth noting that buying ads in the open real-time bidding marketplaces, rather than the private marketplaces, is risky – and brands should consider investing in ad tech that incorporates brand safety, anti-fraud and contextual relevance functions to help counter some of the potential risks.