Programmatic Advertising Platforms Guide

B2B Marketers are Getting with the Program — And Getting Results

Programmatic advertising uses data-driven automation software to purchase and optimize digital ads in real time. It's the undeniable future of marketing, and it's already here: Zenith projects programmatic ad spend will surpass $127 billion by the end of 2020. Because it hyper-targets audiences at scale, marketers can easily serve the right message to the right audience at the right time, boosting efficiency and campaign effectiveness — making it the foundation of a successful ABM strategy.

If you're thinking "Ugh! More platforms, fewer people" you're not entirely wrong. The good news is your campaigns are still only as good as the people creating them. By letting machines take over the transactional tasks of ad campaigns, you can focus more time on the creative and strategic aspects that lead to better customer experiences — and better ROI.

“Successful brands are those who understand the balance of storytelling & programmatic.”

-James Harris, Global Chief Digital Officer at Carat.

How Does Programmatic Work?

In a nutshell:

  • A visitor enters a website.
  • A request is sent to an ad-exchange with information on the website along with visitor data.
  • In milliseconds, this data is then matched against available advertisers and a real-time auction takes place, competing for ad space.
  • The winning bidder displays its ad to the user on the publisher’s website.
  • And hopefully ... engagement!

Obviously, programmatic advertising is a simple concept--but it relies on a complex ecosystem to function. It's best understood by breaking down the different types of Programmatic Platforms and Programmatic Media Buying:

Programmatic Platforms:

Demand Side Platform (DSP): A software platform that allows buyers to identify available ad inventory across a range of publisher sites and then buy it through the use of automation.

Supply Side Platform (SSP): Essentially the mirror image of a DSP, a supply side platform helps publishers optimize their available ad inventory and sell it through automation.

By operating together, DSPs and SSPs enable automated buying and selling of digital ads at scale.

Ad Exchange: A digital marketplace where advertisers and publishers buy and sell advertising space, often through real-time auctions.

Programmatic Media Buying:

Real-Time Bidding (RTB): Also known as open auction, where anyone can bid. Real-time bidding is cost-effective, as it allows buyers to bid on individual impressions rather than paying a pre-determined fixed price.

Private Marketplace (PMP): Publishers offer premium ad inventory packages built around audience data, impression attributes and content type to a group of specified buyers. It's essentially an invitation based real-time auction with more transparency than RTB.

Programmatic Direct: Programmatic direct is a one-to-one media-buying process that bypasses auctions, based on a fixed "cost per mille" or CPM. The actual ad placement itself is handled programmatically. It's a best-of-both-worlds hybrid.

Now that you have a general idea of what programmatic advertising is, it's time to test the waters.

Getting Started with Programmatic: Knowledge is Power

The programmatic landscape can seem overwhelming at first. Before you test drive a campaign, get familiar with terminology and educate your team. Dun & Bradstreet has created an eBook that can help jumpstart the process: The Digital Advertising Sanity Check. It's an entertaining deep dive into how to get started, from audience targeting with data to measuring ROI. Meanwhile, here are some tips to get you started.

Choosing the Right DSP: Ask the Right Questions

Choosing the right Demand Side Platform can be tricky, but doing your homework will help. Features such as transparency, flexibility, inventory, and real-time analytics should all be considerations. Here are some questions to ask:

  1. What is the pricing structure? Is there an onboarding fee? Can the pricing be negotiated?
  2. Does the platform offer access to high-quality, multi-platform ad inventories?
  3. What are the audience targeting, personalization, and real-time analytics capabilities?
  4. What are the safety measures implemented to prevent ad frauds and protect my brand?
  5. What does the platform offer in terms of technical support?

Set Clear Goals and KPIs

Before you can get your campaigns off the ground, you need to establish your goals and corresponding KPIs. Meaningful metrics reflect overall brand goals as well as individual campaign goals. They should also reflect where your target is in the sales funnel: awareness, consideration, or conversion phase.

Some examples of KPIs to consider by funnel phase: Awareness: views, impressions, unique users
Consideration: view-through rate, watch time, favorability lift
Conversion: clicks, calls, signups, sales

Continually evaluate campaigns against your goals and KPIs, and stay flexible as your strategy evolves.

Combine First and Third-Party Data for Better Targeting

When it comes to the success of any marketing campaign, content is king, but data is the differentiator. After all, even the best content means little if it isn't reaching the right people.

First-party data comes from your CRM and market research, but you can also layer it with third-party data offered by data management platforms (DMP). This lets you run a highly targeted campaign to reach your desired audience.

Create Content that Captivates Across Channels

Good programmatic content works not only because it reaches the right person at the right time — it also has to reach them in the right place. As audiences view content on numerous connected devices and consume content in numerous ways, it's important to have multiple ad formats at the ready.

First, align your creative team around your campaign goals and target audience. Then, create personalized data-driven content that reads compellingly across any device.

Keep Your Eye on Brand Safety

Brand safety is one of the key concerns for programmatic advertisers today. But don't let concern turn into avoidance and miss out on the benefits of automation. Make sure you're working with the right agencies and partners. Ask the hard questions about their own safeguards, and provide them with a clear framework of what your brand represents — your manifesto, as it were.

A simple way to keep on top of brand safety is keeping your lists current: your blacklist of sites, content themes, or undesirable verticals, and your whitelist of those you align with or would like exposure on. Your chosen DSP should already have an internal list of approved networks, sites and apps that have been through a strict vetting process.

Concentrating more of your budget on Programmatic Private Marketplaces can give your campaigns a reassuring security boost, since you'll know exactly where your ads are being placed. Keep in mind that the cost per lead will be higher, but the added insurance can be worth the cost.

Does Your Data Need an Overhaul? We Can Help.

Dun & Bradstreet provides rich profiles for your digital traffic backed by trusted data. Leveraging proprietary technology and solutions, we deliver a broad spectrum of B2B data including firmographics, predictive indicators such as spend propensity, marketability and company growth, and custom look-a-like modeling using your first-party customer data.

We can also help you turbo-charge your programmatic strategy with access to the Dun & Bradstreet Data Cloud — and mapping the data to 350M+ cookies and mobile device IDs. Tap into the Data Cloud to deliver ads across ad tech players, social media, and TV ... and watch your programmatic campaigns take off.