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Programmatic Isn’t About Ads, It’s About Insights

by Amobee, September 13, 2016

Momofuku Ando invented instant noodles after seeing people queue up for soup on a frigid day. Nick Woodman started GoPro after realizing that no camera on the market could be used to film himself surfing.

Insights like these can ignite companies. Such insights can ignite marketing, too. Through programmatic advertising, marketers can go beyond directing a message at consumers and actually extract insights.

Digital, particularly programmatic, enables two-way conversations between brands and consumers. And the data trail of choices and actions people leave behind them online offers the most compelling reason to adopt programmatic platforms – it’s a core means of conversing with consumers.

Some may find this surprising, which is understandable. Historically, scavenging for advertising insights has been the domain of focus groups and outside agencies that specialized in research.

That’s changing. For 10 years I had been in meetings with customers where we had discussed click-through rates, conversion rates and cost-per-acquisition. More recently, marketers are asking for insights about the propensity of someone to buy a certain product or how owners of one make of car differ and intersect with owners of other models.

A ‘What Works’ Machine

The original goal of programmatic was to buy and sell ads more efficiently, not to learn more about customers specifically. It turns out though that the best way to buy and sell more efficiently is to learn more about customers.

That’s why we are continually having meetings with marketers who are for the first time seeing valuable insights that can boost or transform their businesses. In the course of making campaigns more effective, we are taking a deep dive into the data and seeing how things play out in real-time.

The technology we provide is all about insights that can be acted upon. A differentiator is that it combines a data management platform/analytics insight machine and an omnichannel demand side platform to activate across the journey. Those are infinitely more valuable together than they are standing on their own – as just a DMP by itself or a DSP that can only dumbly serve ads. It sounds basic, but it comes down to knowing what worked, what didn’t, and putting those insights back into action. We have always believed that a DSP must be more than just a way to buy media, it should be an interface to the end customer.

From a marketer’s point of view, getting bogged down in the technology isn’t necessarily useful. They don’t need to have an opinion on header bidding and know the fine points of “waterfalling.” Their job is to market their brand better. That depends on knowing more about their customers.

Learning About Customers

Most marketers, of course, already know a lot about customers. However, there is always more to know, and often you don’t find things out until you’ve road-tested some assumptions. For instance, a major auto brand we worked with knew that its customers had high household incomes and good credit. From that description you might assume they gravitated towards high-end media like The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal. Proprietary insights reports, however, revealed that these consumers visited a range of websites. The brand knew then that it wasn’t necessary to only buy premium inventory to reach them.

In another example, 3 Day Blinds used to focus its marketing on “Kathy,” a composite character who was 35 years old, educated and drove a German car. By working with Turn and Marketo, the brand was able to spread a wider net and go after customers who didn’t only fit that description. As a result, the company’s appointments per impression – an important metric since they sell via appointments – rose 5,000%. The company also got more data on the people who actually buy its products.

The Role of Programmatic

Previously, I’ve said programmatic is a method to extract insights. It does this by creating a resource, data, which can be used in the short term to make advertising more effective. In the longer term, it can provide those kind of “a-ha” insights that can prompt a company to change direction.

That data is a by-product of the fact that something new has happened to advertising in the last decade or so. For the first time, we have the ability to get real-time data and adjust a campaign on the fly.

But that technology, impressive as it is, is just the means to an end. That end is insights — the promise of programmatic is one of better understanding your consumer, not just making it more efficient to run some ads.

For more about how marketers can turn insights into action, check out our ebook, “Powering Programmatic with Insights: The Future of Marketing.”

 

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