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Why Programmatic is Essential to Your Media Mix

August 15, 2023 |

What even is Programmatic Media Buying?

Programmatic opens the door to an automated way of reaching your audience wherever they may be on the world wide web. Through programmatic technologies and machine learning we improve efficiency and reliability; expediting mundane tasks while also freeing up human capital for more complex problem-solving such as optimization, audience segmentation and test-and-learn implementations.

Programmatic media buying can be done for guaranteed and non-guaranteed placements. As the digital ecosystem grows so does the programmatic landscape, offering media across Display, Native, Audio, Retail, DOOH, and CTV/OTT. There is no need for RFPs, IOs, and human negotiations, greatly speeding up the planning process. While the channel’s power is undeniable, programmatic is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Below we dive deeper into the pros & cons of programmatic media, as well as how the channel can integrate into a larger media mix.


What does Programmatic Media do well?

Did you know that there are 99,000 searches every single second? Taking it one step further, each search ideally leads to a site with a handful of different ad spots available. How are these sites to determine which advertisement shows up in every single spot?

Programmatic ad buying stands apart due to the nature of the real-time bidding that occurs with each one of these searches. For example, as the user clicks on the website they would like to visit, an auction for each of the available media spaces commences simultaneously. The site then sends details about the site visitor (age, gender, psychographics) to the programmatic buying platforms so that any advertiser with a target audience aligning with the visitor’s characteristics can submit a bid on the ad spaces offered. Finally, the highest bidder’s ad is loaded alongside the webpage content. All of these steps occur in the matter of milliseconds.

In the second it takes the server to load the webpage, an instantaneous auction occurs, where advertisers whose target audiences align with the characteristics of the person conducting the search automatically bid on each of these digital ad spaces, with the winner’s advertisement loading alongside the webpage. This aids advertisers in reaching a very targeted audience with specific messages at any desired time. It allows for much more personalization than was previously available for digital promotion strategies on a much larger scale. The real-time auctioning and hyper-targeted demo/psychographic targeting set the programmatic channel apart as not only a useful tool for when advertisers have very stringent rails to adhere by for a campaign (ex: only adult Canadian males under age 30 who are online after midnight), but also an essential addition to any media strategy.


How does Programmatic work with other channels in your media mix?

Revisiting the nature of programmatic is crucial in understanding how the channel can best complement the rest of your media mix. Let us first look at another channel, Search Engine Marketing (SEM), to see how it stacks up to programmatic offerings. When a consumer conducts a web search and the “Sponsored” searches populate on top, the user is most likely already in the headspace to complete a purchase. The consumer already knows what they want and are using the search engine simply to figure out from where they can purchase the product. There is already intent behind the search.

For programmatic on the other hand, these advertisements are being placed on sites relevant to the target audience, except there is no guaranteed purchase intent from the consumer. For this reason, programmatic dollars are typically used by advertisers for top-of-the-funnel needs, meaning building awareness of a new brand or consideration for a new product line. While conversion campaigns are able to run through programmatic buying, the aforementioned buying habits tell us as advertisers that by running these conversion campaigns through programmatic media buying, we are asking consumers to take action outside of their normal routine; really the role of advertising should be reaching these users via the correct channel in addition to considering when they are most receptive to our messaging. This all goes back to the specific strengths of each channel; When positioned to complement other media channels, programmatic efforts do an exceptional job of simply reaching these users, not even necessarily with a message. By getting even a brand-related visual or logo in front of the audience, programmatic media is introducing the connection between brand and consumer, allowing for other channels from the mix to readdress those same users for more consideration-focused messaging, transition them to a remarketing pool where the prospects are retargeted until they ideally convert, and taking it one step further, become loyalists to the brand and advocates for the brand!