The 8 steps to a successful programmatic campaign

While programmatic advertising is one of the many channels that marketers can consider, it is often seen as an expensive, complex added extra that can take a whole army to set up and reap the benefits. 

But getting to grips with programmatic can be a cost-effective and efficient investment to help achieve your marketing goals. The first step is understanding the difference between running a branding versus a performance campaign. A branding campaign is one that is focused on reach, awareness and ultimately, improving quality traffic to your site. On the other hand, a performance campaign is focused on increasing the amount of purchases, sign-ups, customers, or revenue per customer. 

To effectively set up your programmatic campaign for success, you need to consider these eight elements: 

  1. Have clear campaign goals

    It’s no secret that most contemporary programmatic advertising platforms have a machine learning component, which means that, based on what you feed the model, it will optimise towards that particular objective or KPI. For example, for a branding campaign, the goal could be to drive traffic to your brand’s website, so in this case, the platform will focus on in-market customers who are likely to engage with your ads.

    And make sure you stay focused on your campaign goals and not change too often mid-campaign. Changing direction halfway through will mean the model has to re-learn the algorithms, pushing you further away from achieving your marketing objectives. Best to plan in advance.
  2. Set a realistic budget

    Programmatic should be an investment, and as such you need to work out how much investment is needed to find that sweet spot for the product or service you are advertising. First of all, campaign budgets will vary across countries, industries and media channels, but as a minimum, a ballpark starting number should be at least 1 million impressions (per market, per channel). This allows you to achieve enough delivery to get data from these impressions, and optimise your campaigns, learning as you go. And the higher the budget, the more impressions you’ll get, which helps with more robust learnings that you can use to help optimise campaign performance.

    Any less, and you may be spreading yourself too thinly, which will result in the campaign data not being statistically significant enough to optimise for performance or gain any insights from.
  1. Get the timing right

    Every programmatic advertising agency will tell you the same thing about campaign length. Programmatic is a channel that needs time to optimise, and, depending on the total media spend and nature of your audience, the time needed can vary. The recommended approach is to test for at least three months. The first month is for the machine to learn, the second month is to optimise and the third month is to scale the campaign. Using this timeframe will ensure you achieve optimum results from your programmatic spend. 

    But what if your campaign timeframe is less than three months? Most programmatic platforms that take a 100% machine learning approach to optimisation may not be able to optimise within a reasonable amount of time to hit KPIs. Programmatic platforms such as Crimtan’s that can be optimised on the fly with expert traders are effective both for longer and shorter, more tactical-led campaigns.
  1. Define your target audience

    Having a clear target audience is essential to set the direction of your programmatic campaigns. Hitting your target audience can come from a number of different targeting tactics. These can include behavioural, context, keywords, geo, domain, and so on. The beauty of programmatic is you will get to see in real time which targeting strategies are achieving your campaign goals. But what’s more important is the flexibility to expand and explore other target audiences as the campaign progresses.
  2. Place a pixel on your site

    A pixel is a snippet of code that is placed on your website to gather information about your site visitors. This is particularly important for performance campaigns as the only way you would know if someone has engaged with your brand from your advertising efforts is if you have a pixel on site. These pixels help you understand what action was taken and how far the customer is in their journey with your product or service. Essentially, without a pixel, you have no visibility on your visitors and won’t be able to know if your campaigns are having a positive impact on site-side metrics like conversions, or not.

    But you don’t always need to rely on pixels. While they can sometimes be useful for branding campaigns to create target segments, they aren’t always necessary, meaning these campaigns are less complicated to set up and can go live a lot faster than performance campaigns.
  3. Use third-party trackers

    Third-party trackers or tags can be used to confirm the validity of ad traffic delivered by ad servers such as Google Campaign Manager. When running programmatic campaigns, you can share these trackers with your programmatic agency to ensure details such as impressions served, clicks and conversions are the same on both the ad server and platform.

    This enables you to use an independent platform to attribute conversions and learn more about your customers’ path to purchase. For brands who are using multiple channels or vendors for their campaigns , third-party tracking can be valuable for looking at the paths customers take before they take an action on site.

    Another purpose of third-party trackers is billing and invoicing. It is common for third-party tracking numbers and vendor numbers to be within 10% discrepancy. However, 10% of a million dollars of ad spend does add up on your bottom line, so using one single platform to measure all your ad delivery is beneficial to ensure a single source of campaign truth.
  1. Use the right measurement tools

    There are several measurement tools that are commonly used in the market. One of the most common ones is Google Analytics (GA). Although GA is widely used, it is not the best tool to use to judge the success of your programmatic campaign. The reason is that Google Analytics is fundamentally a tool that specialises in site traffic. It is not designed to give a holistic view of the open web advertising landscape. As such, it will only pick up click-based actions. 

    Third-party ad servers are commonly used as an independent source of truth when measuring programmatic campaigns. This is because they help brands understand a customer’s path to conversion across multiple channels and vendors.  With third-party ad servers, brands are able to see which sequence of ads a customer saw, engaged with, or interacted with before making a conversion. 
  1. Embrace omnichannel

    You want your programmatic campaign to deliver your message to your target audience wherever they are, no matter how they’re viewing your ads. Your customers are not always using the same devices in the same situations. They could be on their phone, walking to work, waiting for a bus or watching TV. But to reach your audience at any time and place, you will need to take an omnichannel approach. 

    Running your programmatic campaigns may seem complex especially if you are working with multiple vendors that may not have all your needs under one roof.  Expert partners like Crimtan give you efficient media buying and the ability to see the complete customer journey through a fully integrated tech stack that works across multiple programmatic channels. This is a far more effective approach that will achieve better results compared to using multiple vendors that are not integrated for different channels.

If you would like to learn more, please get in touch with our experts who can deep-dive into each element with you and your team, and help you to maximise your marketing budget to reach your campaign goals.