Be careful about what you think you know
Shortly before 2am this morning I changed a nappy, confident in my ability to read the situation and determine that then, was indeed the best time. But, at 4 weeks old, Élodie is an unpredictable little thing and rewarded my less-than-good judgement by weeing all over the change table and her outfit at the same time.
My error was to base my judgement on what I’d believed I knew about Élodie’s behavioural patterns; had I been thinking more dynamically, I would likely have approached it differently and the result would have been far more rewarding. This issue with bad data is something that plagues brands wishing to understand how to use data to improve engagement – an audience’s intent might vary tremendously during the course of a day’s Internet activity yet we as an industry rely so heavily on basic ‘click’ info for much of our decision making.
Getting creative when optimising your Programmatic ads
Programmatic trading has evolved through that single click approach to engagement and ultimately optimisation. What does that click reveal? An individual may click on an advert but that doesn’t mean they are necessarily going to produce the desired response against a specific campaign objective. They may well be a bot; some of them are. Enhanced (rich media) creative containing video and tailored interactivity, on the other hand, can identify the truly receptive audience brilliantly if used properly, and present a host of much more accurate data based on different points of interaction against which to base the optimisation activity. And, by operating a dynamic approach to the initial creative experience where different types of creative are deliberately used to tease out a variety of responses, more powerful insights can be mapped: location, mood, intent, etc. From there the campaign targeting can evolve with confidence.
For programmatic to be delivered effectively, optimisation towards an increasingly refined target audience is key – amplification of the best performing audience segments through a process of nurture. Unfortunately, the technical complexities of delivering rich media creative programmatically has led the industry to believe that rich media is only really viable when delivered over pre-tested sites by way of a private marketplace or network. And, as such, optimisation suffers drastically, as there are often simply not enough refined audience types in play across those limited sites, to allow a true programmatic approach to be exploited.
Your brand deserves to reach the right audiences
As an industry wishing to realise the benefits of programmatic for branding whether via video or rich media display, we’re challenged by a lack of reach. A solid programme of optimisation will very quickly lead to a shrinking audience pool, and a depleted pool won’t provide the levels of reach needed to make a campaign sensible for either the brand, or the agency running it. As such, a quest for better targeting can ultimately lead to an enforced need to lift session capping in order to deliver on the anticipated levels of impressions agreed prior to a campaign going live. With the session capping lifted, an audience’s enjoyment of that brand may change – we’ve all experienced the frustration of being stalked endlessly around the web by the same brand, damaging that brand’s collateral in the process.
Shining a light on the open market
So what of the global programmatic exchange; the open marketplace (OMP), where tens of billions of potential bids a day exist? Unfortunately, we are often told that to ensure a rich media campaign can work smoothly, the OMP is simply too dangerous to venture into thanks to the high levels of bot traffic, and that a network play is the only safe approach. As such, the same limited pre-tested sites are increasingly being relied on for greater and greater levels of rich media activity, where today, reach itself is now the new issue, let alone any frustrations over an ability to optimise.
Online advertising is no longer new. Rich media isn’t either. Technology has evolved over the years and technology is solving these conundrums. We as an industry have all the tools we need to make highly optimised, dynamic, programmatic branding work brilliantly; hopefully we will embrace this ability soon before misplaced practice drives even further levels of ad blocking and disgruntled stakeholders from all sides.
The same is true as we refine our life-choices; now where are the wipes?
James Booth, Founder & CEO, Scoota.
Tel: +44 (0) 207 637 1602
This article feature in The Drum’s feature on Programmatic – 8th March 2017