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Achieving Branding Success with Programmatic Media

At a recent Media Post Programmatic Insider Summit, I participated in a roundtable discussion about a topic long near and dear to me: Can marketers effectively achieve branding objectives in the programmatic marketplace?

The answer is an emphatic YES!  What you might be happier to know is that:

A –  You don’t need to invest a dime in a 3rd party attribution vendor in order to do it.


B –  A good programmatic branding strategy increases the efficiency of the rest of your marketing plan AND quality of consumer engagement with your brand.

Too good to be true?  Hardly!

In fact, there are some pretty simple steps to achieving branding success programmatically but the one thing you have to embrace before you read on is that you must be prepared to unlearn some bad habits.  In particular, you must be able to let go of the widely-held belief that click-through rate and click-based metrics are more valuable than impression-based metrics.  (Perhaps they will be as the programmatic space continues to evolve but that’s another topic for another time…)

The knock against every branding/prospecting tactic from simple contextual to data-based solutions like behavioral targeting and look-alike modeling is that they don’t perform as well as DR-Friendly Retargeting tactics.  It’s true – these branding efforts don’t generally have high numbers of attributable bottom-funnel “conversions” – BUT THAT’S NOT ITS JOB!!!  By nature, prospecting efforts are reaching consumers most likely to engage with your brand but who may not even know who you are yet.

A typical full-funnel display campaign will allocate ~20% of its budget to Retargeting and ~80% to prospecting efforts.  These campaigns also typically yield ~90% of all their conversions from retargeting but only 10% from prospecting.  Campaign optimization comes down to simple math.  Optimizing Retargeting’s 20% budget to 90% of the conversions is easy.  Optimizing Prospecting’s 80% budget to 10% of the conversions is not…and again, it’sRetargeting’s job to generate conversions, NOT Prospecting’s!

Because the actual job of Prospecting is to generate awareness and interest, it simply needs to be optimized to role-appropriate KPI.  This is the point I mentioned before, where you must now let go of click-through rate.  With average CTR’s from quality consumers on quality inventory hovering between .05-.07%, it again makes no statistical sense to try and optimize with so little data.  We simply need more “Good Data” to make statistically sound optimizations!

So with click data proving unreliable and conversion data being too sparse, what else is there to run an effective programmatic branding campaign?  The answer to this question is Post-Impression Brand Engagement.

Post Impression data proves that the consumers marketers value most, are far more apt to engage with your brand on their own terms than will ever click your ads.  Capturing this data is the key to your programmatic branding success.

By placing a simple conversion pixel on a high-value/high traffic page of your website, you will start capturing post-click AND post-impression content engagement data.  With post-impression engagement activity providing upwards of 600% MORE data (this varies greatly by what you choose to measure) than click data alone, you now have substantially more of that “Good Data” you need to effectively optimize your branding efforts.

The trickle-down effect of this simple tactic is tangible.  You can expect to see:

  • More domain-level insight (Knowing which publishers are providing you with REAL results (High Engagement Rate vs. High CTR)
  • Increased click-quality (as measured by post-click conversion rate)
  • Increased branded search activity (more people searching for you by name) and overall search campaign efficiency
  • More qualified traffic to your website
  • Increased conversion rates on your Retargeting campaign

So, would you rather have your prospecting campaigns optimized to Clicks on your Ads or actual Engagement with your Brand?  It’s like the difference between knocks on your door and actual customers standing inside your store looking over your merchandise – especially when you consider that many of those knocks are from people looking for a bathroom or directions to another store…

Indeed, by focusing on Post-Impression Brand Engagement, you will gain efficiency across your entire marketing program.  Armed with new perspective and gained media efficiency, you will be much better positioned to reinvest your saved marketing dollars in more meaningful ways, such as creating a Private Marketplace; Creative Iteration and Testing; or Expansion into New Media such as Native, Mobile or Social.

Hi Pop! Media

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