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Brand Association and the Programmatic Marketplace

As I gleefully approach my “old codger” years, I find myself consistently repeating the same things to advertisers confused by the fragmented display advertising ecosystem.  Among the oldest “Tad-isms” I profess to programmatic neophytes is this: The best thing about digital advertising is all the data!  The worst thing about digital advertising?  All the data!

While daunting indeed, the sheer volume of “big data” is not the problem.   Thefundamental flaw with programmatic media is how performance data is applied to it – twisted and manipulated in over-simplistic or over-complicated ways that ultimately benefit everyone BUT the advertisers paying for it.

Here’s how it (basically) went down at the dawn of the digital marketing age: Ignoring decades of traditional marketing best practices learned from the evolution of our craft, we ignored the massive branding power of a global marketplace, and reduced our expectations of the digital medium to those of the checkout stand at the supermarket, riddled with impulse buys.  At its root, the application of performance data to digital advertising is based on the simplistic formula that we all HOPED would become the gold standard of our medium: User Sees Ad > User Clicks Ad > User Buys Product.

What we all came to understand about display advertising a long time agohowever, is that the best click-through rates tend to come from the least-desirable online audiences and the least-brand-friendly publisher websites.  In fact, qualityconsumers on quality publishers, typically produce click-through rates and post-click engagement metrics considered abysmal by widely-held industry standards.

Despite these undeniable truths, brand advertisers and agencies of all shapes and sizes collectively hold billions of display ad dollars accountable to an inherently flawed metric – the click.  This is particularly troublesome in the exchange-based programmatic marketplace where the vast majority of available inventory comes from obscure websites that attract low-quality consumers and are littered with click-baiting content and ad placements.  With Natural Born Clickers and Botspotentially lurking in your “black box” programmatic media plan, if it sounds scary, that’s because it is.  Why?

In a word?  TRUST.  Our over-reliance on simplified performance data has allowed for the proliferation of questionable publishers that offer watered-down content and only serve as impression and click farms that riddle most programmatic media buys.  What’s in YOUR black box?

Whether it be guilty pleasure or a mis-click trying to close an ad on their phone,quality consumers, DO visit these kinds of sites…but do they TRUST them?

Like after a second donut, quality consumers aren’t very proud of themselves for checking out the Daily Pic on www.mullet-a-day.com and think it looks a little sleazy when a large nationally-recognized bank greets them there, offering good rates on a home loan.

Quality consumers look over their shoulder at least twice before clicking that link to see 5 mind-blowing tips to please their man on www.50shadzofgreat.com, and completely dismiss the unfamiliar local credit union they find advertising there (despite the fact that their rates are better and they have a higher customer satisfaction rating than the large nationally-recognized bank.)

This is negative brand association. 

These same quality consumers are usually going about their online lives consuming content from reputable brands they TRUST and steering clear of the internet’s gray areas.  From the largest national portals and social media platforms to local news and information sites, people develop a trust in their media sources, just like they develop a trust in their favorite consumer brands.

When quality consumers continuously see brands – whether they be start-ups, internationally-recognized or anywhere in-between – on the publisher websites they TRUST, their level of trust for those brands increases exponentially.  This is POSITIVE brand association… but here’s the thing: You can’t measure positive brand association by looking at clicks or anything to do with them.

By focusing on the impressions you serve – not the clicks you receive – you will find the answer to running an efficient programmatic display media campaign and safely grow your brand.  Quality consumers don’t click ads in high numbers but they DO find the brands that they trust and engage with them “organically.”  (“Tad-ism” #2: There’s no such thing as organic traffic.)  On the flip-side, undesirable consumers click ads like crazy but rarely engage with content, post-click.

With the introduction of the Post-Impression Engagement metric, your digital media plan will immediately be optimized to consumers who are actuallyengaging with your content – not just clicking your ads.  Not coincidentally, the highest post-impression engagement rates tend to come from the most trusted online publishers – in spite of their “poor” click-through rates.  With this new optimization strategy in place, you maximize positive brand association and significantly reduce the risk of unknowingly damaging your brand in the eyes of the quality consumers you’re after.

By harnessing the power of Positive Brand Association and focusing on the more appropriate Post-Impression Engagement data, results for advertisers of all kinds have been the same: More efficient media campaigns and increased bottom-line growth.  We have grown quite accustomed to seeing results like those that helped produce 120% year-over-year growth in enrollment for a prestigious higher education client, not in spite of – but BECAUSE of – a nearly 10% increase in average CPM.  *Hint – You really do get what you pay for.

Simply put, protecting your brand will grow it more efficiently in the programmatic marketplace.  In the race to the top, gained efficiency creates faster brand growth.  Are you ready to win the race?

Hi Pop! Media

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