Programmatic Ad Buying: 6 Examples of Brands Getting it Right

Today’s consumers can fast-forward, block or avoid ads completely, making it harder for brands to reach their intended audiences.

Our latest research shows 44% are now blocking ads each month, with ad-overload and ad-frustration being the most important drivers behind this trend. Yet, digital continues to drive further ad spend.

One place where this ad spend is going is programmatic – using audience data and technology to tailor your marketing to the right person, at the right moment, in the right context.

According to the World Federation of Advertisers, global programmatic is set to account for 28% of digital media spend this year, up from 17% last year, despite growing fears over the impact of GDPR on its revenue.

Done well, programmatic ensures brands are only ever delivering helpful, relevant and timely content that has the desired effect. Done badly, however, it can have a detrimental impact on a brand.

Here, we take a look at six examples of brands who have leveraged consumer data to drive successful programmatic campaigns.

1. O2

In 2016, O2 wanted to make its ‘tariff refresh’ TV ad relevant and engaging for a mobile audience. The brand repurposed the ads for mobile and used mobile usage data, such as device type and location, to tailor messaging to users.

This data meant O2 could advise its audience on the current recycling value of their phone, the best offer for an upgrade, what people “like them” generally preferred upgrading to, and where their nearest outlet was.

More than 1,000 versions of the video ad were created, and these were integrated in real-time with the user’s device and location.

An ideal example of a brand achieving creativity through data, the programmatic campaign saw its personalized ads achieve a Click-Through Rate (CTR) 128% higher than generic video.

2. The Economist

When The Economist wanted to target ‘intellectually-curious’ readers who had previously been reluctant to try the publication, it tapped into its wealth of subscriber data to identify the most relevant and engaging content to deliver, tailoring stories to its audience.

This included analyzing web/app usage of subscribers to The Economist, identifying reader preferences (what type of content was consumed and when), matching cookie, subscriber and other data sets to build seven segments reflecting the publication’s key sections – finance, politics, economics, doing good, careers, technology and social justice – and creating lookalike audiences.

Page context and viewer profile were then assessed in real-time, enabling the brand to serve an appropriate ad to each consumer.

The ads linked to The Economist’s content hub which presented the relevant article and invited the user to subscribe. More than 60 executions were created, many in near real-time from the company’s live newsroom.

Results included the generation of 650,000 new prospects, while 3.6m people took action and a campaign ROI of 10:1 was achieved on a £1.2m media budget.

In the U.S., where The Economist is less well-known, ‘awareness’ jumped 64%, ‘consideration’ rose by 22% and ‘willingness to recommend’ rose 10%.

3. Turner Sports

Turner Sports wanted to extend the reach of the NBA’s Season Tip-Off 2016 events, which are aired on Turner’s US cable channel, TNT.

The company worked with Google to build audience lists based on previous AdWord campaigns, before using algorithms from Google’s advertising subsidiary, DoubleClick, to identify the most relevant audiences.

The brand then gathered real-time video from Tip-Off events in Oakland, Cleveland, Chicago and Portland before launching a programmatic video advertising campaign. Content was delivered as YouTube TrueView ads to six million unique viewers across the U.S.

The campaign complemented Turner Sports’ live broadcasting, amplifying the story around the NBA Season Tip-Off events to optimize their marketing budget.

The activity drove a 17% lift in ad recall and a 7% lift in brand awareness for the NBA on TNT.

4. Audi

When Audi was preparing to launch its new customizable vehicle, the Q2, the company wanted to personalize its marketing. The goal was to create a campaign that would live up to the brand’s slogan: ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’ – or ‘Advancement through Technology’.

Audi worked with Google to join the dots and analyze its key touchpoints in relation to analytics. Data included floodlight tags (or image pixels) on the Audi site, enabling the creation of remarketing lists of previous website visitors, as well as in-market segments, which helped Audi discover new users whose online behaviors showed their intention to make a car purchase.

A car configurator on the brand website allowed consumers to digitally customize their dream car, enabling Audi to collect information about users’ tastes. This was used to dynamically drive ad creatives.

A user’s position in the sales funnel – from someone with no previous contact with Audi, to someone who had completed a configuration of the new Q2 – coupled with insights into their preferences (such as model and color), informed the ad that would be served, ensuring it was highly relevant.

Buying ads programmatically led to an average conversion rate four times higher than those bought using traditional methods.

In the last phase of audience qualification, using dynamic creative ads with the visitor’s individually configured car (chosen from over 6,000 combinations) delivered more than double the efficiency of standard ads.

5. ScS

Home furnishings retailer, ScS, used various data sources such as search, web analytics and store visitor data to target customers when they were most likely to visit their local store, using programmatic to deliver product offers and location-based messaging on social platforms such as Facebook and YouTube.

The company worked with search agency, Epiphany, while data was supplied by MediaIQ and Google Analytics. Store visitor data and the retailer’s own internal sales database was also used. These data points were combined with GPS data to enable the ads to be targeted to each customer’s location.

The campaign resulted in a 57% increase in store footfall during March and June 2016 compared with the same period the previous year.

6. Amanda Foundation

A great example of a brand taking programmatic in a new direction is the non-profit organization, Amanda Foundation, who partnered with Saatchi&Saatchi to create a highly personalized programmatic campaign.

‘Digital Pawprint’ is all about matching people with real animals up for adoption in the charity’s shelters, based on their hobbies and characteristics.

Chris Mead, one of the minds behind the campaign, said, “Pets are proven to improve quality of life. But they aren’t one-size-fits-all. Factors like age, activity level and family status mean some animals are a better fit than others.

“Modern display ads use information like a person’s location and browsing behavior to serve them hyper-relevant messages. So Amanda Foundation decided to use the same data to serve that person a hyper-relevant pet.”

The result is a striking campaign, fully targeted and personalized, which shows the true potential of programmatic advertising.

Taking control of programmatic

As programmatic continues to grow, more brands are taking the discipline in-house in the quest for increased control and greater visibility into how their budget is allocated.

Unilever, for example, who has a dedicated unit within its agency, Ultra; Reckitt Benckiser, has built an internal programmatic team, while lastminute.com now has its own in-house trading desk.

For those brands looking to take a similar approach, there are some key things to consider:

5 Tips for Brands to Master Programmatic Buying:

1. Invest in the right skills.

Whether employing specialists or upskilling existing staff, ensure you have people who truly understand the logistics of programmatic technologies and can combine knowledge of data and analytics with an understanding of human behaviors.

2. Rely on more than analytics.

To make programmatic work, it takes far more than a reliance on website analytics that tracks cookies or devices. Instead, there is a more pressing need than ever for this to be paired with survey data that reflects real people, to get a deeper understanding of your audience and the touchpoints that matter.

GlobalWebIndex is home to the world’s largest study on the digital consumer, giving brands ready access to the insights they need, when they need it.

3. Optimize for the right channels and devices.

Use the insights you gather from GlobalWebIndex, paired with your real-time analytics, to find out which channels and devices will prove most effective for your campaign, ensuring your tactics have the desired impact.

4. Capitalize on your first-party customer data.

Make use of the data you already have on user and customer behaviors to deliver personalized messages to the right people and in the right context.

5. Test your campaigns.

Use advertising effectiveness solutions to test the impact of your campaign on the objectives and brand metrics you want to measure. This will ensure no budget is wasted, and you know where to focus your efforts next time around.