Programmatic burst onto the advertising scene as a revolutionary way to buy valuable ad space using machines in a matter of seconds, transforming the way that media was bought and sold. Fast forward to 2019 and marketers are using programmatic to target, change behaviour and attribute investment to create a more transparent digital marketplace.
In 2019, 65% of all digital ad spend is expected to be programmatic and that number rises to 80% in key markets including the Canada, Denmark, the UK and US. And with an estimated $84 billion predicted to be spent on programmatic ads this year, it remains to be an important evolving player in the digital ad world.
Based on the Festival of Media Global Awards 2019 shortlist, the spread of entries in the ‘Best Use of Programmatic’ category included Australia, China, Malaysia, the UK and US. By brand sector, the mix was also quite varied with campaigns from a range of food, travel, leisure and tourism, technology and retail brands.
One of the key findings to emerge from these entries was how brands and agencies are pooling information from different datasets, including those provided by third-party providers, to take programmatic beyond basic ad placement and use it to target, change behaviour and attribute investment. That, coupled with the possibilities for real-time targeting and personalised creative, improves relevance to individual consumers.
The range of data points used across these entries included day, daypart, weather, GPS location and more, allowing brands to programmatically create thousands of different creative executions and unique tailored ads to make each and every digital ad relevant to the consumer being served the ad. It also highlighted a move towards more data-driven and scientific targeting approaches to leverage offline research and online targeting capabilities.
A number of campaigns claimed media first activations across digital, mobile and audio that challenged the status quo of existing attribution approaches. Others combined what was previously separate and disconnected data into one very targeted execution, creating a bespoke audience before delivering relevant and personalised communication.
Another key trend highlighted the improvements being made in measurement and transparency for programmatic, as well as the benefits of gaining an understanding of customers, allowing for sophisticated personalisation and specific audience targeting.
In a session entitled ‘Unifying AdTech and MarTech to achieve customer centricity’, Toccara Baker, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Adobe discussed how developing a better understanding of your audiences, uniting disparate data and inventory solutions, whilst eliminating media channel silos is the only way for brands to prioritise a unified infrastructure that improves customer experiences, reduces cost and increases revenues.
“It’s very important to deliver a customised and personalised experience,” said Baker. “We know that customers want this, we know that providing the best experience is the ultimate goal. However we [as an industry] have an issue when it comes to fragmentation. There are so many areas that are fragmented for brands and advertisers – whether that’s through how you start to connect data and campaigns, and leverage an ‘always on’ strategy but also how you start to connect technology. Only when you can do this are you able to deliver a connected and personalised experience for the consumer.”
Creating a data-centric audience strategy through programmatic allows marketers to communicate to the right audience at the right time with the right message. Pooling data from a variety of sources to gain a superior understanding of their interactions and behaviours can improve campaign optimisation and create strong attribution models.
We put the spotlight on two Festival of Media Global Awards 2019 winning entries, which highlight this trend:
Shell Retail T3 | Shell Fuels | MediaCom | Malaysia
Shortlisted for: Best Use of Programmatic (GOLD WINNER)
Shell had a huge attribution challenge. Find an audience amongst multiple offers, hundreds of locations and what’s more, its source of growth was brand switchers who were not its own. MediaCom would leverage insights as the backbone of audience targeting and enable Shell to connect media activity with every visit Brand Switchers made to its gas stations. Going beyond ad placement, using programmatic to target, change behaviour and attribute investment, the big idea was to use GPS location data, not just to identify when Brand Switchers refuelled at Shell but also to target media at them to encourage them to make that decision. More than that, for the first time it would make the attribution part of the campaign management process.
Working with tens of 3rd party data providers – including offline data – the agency broke down its Brand Switcher target into their three constituent parts. This framework provided Shell a more data-driven and scientific targeting approach by leveraging offline research and online targeting capabilities. By combining the programmatic activity with the visit data, it would be able to close the purchase loop from media investment to actual Shell visits, demonstrating the huge contribution to Shell’s business objectives.
Yet the strategy didn’t stop there. Shell’s visit data would also allow the agency to continuously improve the audience performance during the campaign. This data-centric audience strategy meant it could communicate to the right group at the right time with the right message, while also gaining a superior understanding of their interactions and behaviours to ensure campaign optimisation. The matching process was executed in real-time enabling the agency to optimise the campaign by comparing the performances of these three audience groups.
Winter Sale 2018: This time its personal | Virgin Atlantic | PHD | UK
Shortlisted for: Best Use of Programmatic (SILVER WINNER)
For Virgin Atlantic, the Winter sale period (post-Christmas to Feb) is a crucial promotional window, accounting for up to 40% of total flights sold annually. With a reduced spend and no TV ad available for the 2018 Winter Sale campaign, digital took a more central role; working harder to hit the increased targets: Whilst this period is important to Virgin Atlantic it is, of course, important to EVERY airline, so to deliver against these targets it needed to do something that would stand out in a sea of airline sale ads. That was incredibly tricky to do with a pureplay digital display approach. So, PHD started to think about non-visual media formats. Virgin Atlantic’s core upmarket target audience are 13% more likely to listen to Digital Audio than the average Brit. In the grind of the post-Christmas return to daily commuting, audio could be key to inspiring them to book their next big adventure…IF it could find a way of making Virgin Atlantic’s message stand out beyond standard broadcast radio spot time.
The key to unlocking a point of difference in audio was turning the attention to personalisation. But whilst its now a commonplace practice in display and CRM formats, the daunting budget ramifications of personalised creative in the programmatic audio space meant it hadn’t been attempted before and hence, it still offered a genuine point of differentiation. The second challenge this personalised approach had to overcome to become a viable option was one of scale and reach. Virgin Atlantic’s Winter Sale creative focused on how amazing its sale was. Within this concept, the agency developed executions which could talk to each individual listener in digital audio.
PHD delivered this through a programmatic audio first, using conscious personalisation – ads that made clear to listeners that they had been tailored specifically to them. It created pre-recorded, templated Virgin Atlantic Winter Sale ads using four data points. This allowed it to programmatically create 24,000+ different creative executions, all delivered in Virgin Atlantic’s sardonic tone of voice. Using programmatic inventory across Spotify and DAX (the UK’s biggest programmatic audio platform), it overlaid third- party audience targeting and served the target audience audio ads that pulled in creative elements of listeners location, time of day, day of week and the weather to create a unique ad tailored just for them.