Programmatic Buying for Target Audience

by Greg Farmer, Account Supervisor, 15º

Aug 8

Web display advertising has come a long way since its original inception. Starting with the first banner ad for sale in 1993 (from the website Global Network Navigator) fast forwarding to today’s marketplace where we can target almost anyone digitally (and we can learn a great deal of information about their buying and browsing habits). It all begins to beg the question, is there still a need to go directly to a publisher and buy digital advertising when you can go to a network and buy a category, or buy programmatically and have access to a behavioral set?

However as clear as the answer might seem, the search for a target audience isn’t always straightforward. Going publisher direct has advantages including: access to premium units, integration with editorial, guaranteed placements, and knowing exactly where and when your ads will run (often with increased share of voice). However this only works if you know exactly who your target audience is, and if you’re willing to pay a premium to be in front of them. Additionally, often times with publisher direct deals, you can’t opt out of lower performing units (even though you’re paying just as much for them).

Alternatively, if you only have some insights about your target and there isn’t a clear cut website or group of websites that they visit it’s better to make an ad network or programmatic buy. Instead of being tied down to one or two websites you can align yourself with specific behaviors, income levels, or another type of activity. There is something for almost every brand to help better understand not only their target audience but also how the target moves around online.

Additionally, from a cost perspective (whether it’s the cost per thousand or cost per click model) programmatic buying costs are significantly lower on a per thousand/click basis. This is due to the fact that more inventory is available to programmatic software and ad networks, and more so that the units are sold at a fraction of what you would pay a publisher directly (unfortunately that does come at the expense of not knowing exactly where that click may come from).

Lastly, once a brand starts buying programmatically, they can begin to gain insight about what behaviors make their target audience tick (and more so can optimize their campaign towards that behavior in the future). A recent example of this from our Cheeses of Europe campaign is that we uncovered that people who have an affinity for foreign cars and golf are very responsive to Cheeses of Europe recipe messaging. While we knew a great deal about our target audience of Foodies and the target cities, it came as a surprise that people in this segment had such an interest in these two behaviors.

Overall depending on the behavior and level of knowledge that you have about your customers, buying either publisher direct or programmatically may be right for you. However, if you already know a lot about your customers and want to discover additional websites that they browse, then programmatic is the best choice.