Programmatic Marketing for Dummies

Programmatic Marketing for Dummies

You might have heard about Programmatic Marketing buzz these last years but never really understood what it really means. Don’t worry you are not the only one. Even marketers are not all aware of this trending topic. According to the IAB Europe, WARC and Appnexus’s study called «Why and How programmatic is emerging as key to real-time marketing success», 50% of media buyers confess they hardly understand programmatic.

Indeed it is a complex domain requiring a specialized technological knowledge and masters a disconcerting new vocabulary.

Nevertheless, you should begin to take an interest in this phenomenon because you have not heard the last of this. Indeed spending in this sector reached 21 millions of dollars in the world, an increase of 50% in 2014 compared to the year prior. Experts forecast another 56% rise in 2017 in France.


1. Definition

Its sophistication makes this topic opaque and difficult to explain. Many marketers and researchers tried to give a short and simple definition, but none caught my attention as much as Ameet Ranadive’s one:
“At a high level, Programmatic Marketing is the practice of implementing an automated set of business rules to efficiently target your most valuable customers and prospects with personalized ads.”

  • The automation allows marketers to decrease delays induced by a human chain link in the process in order to be more reactive.
  • An efficient targeting will “eliminate wasted impressions and clicks. Thus, you only show ads to users who have intent, and who are likely to take the desired action” (Ameet Ranadive, 2013).
  • Eventually, customization increases the potential that the customer does the desired action by showing him the perfect customized ad, based on data you know about him and his last searches on the Internet for example.

2. Glossary

To understand how the programmatic marketing is working, you first have to be aware and understand the multitude of actors, notions, and tools that take place in the process.
Below, these are the main words to know:

  • Publishers: have some advertisings spaces to sell on its website
  • Media buyers / Advertisers: buy advertisings spaces to promote its brand or its offer
  • Ad Inventory: It means a publisher’s package of advertisings spaces available for sale. It lists spaces’ locations, forms, and sizes.
  • Ad Exchange: automated marketplaces where buyers and publishers purchase and sell online advertising spaces.
  • Demand-Side Platform (DSP): Platform that allows buyers to manage different Ad Exchanges from a single interface and that bid automatically and in real-time to get advertisings spaces or impressions.
  • Supply-Side Platform (SSP): Platform that operates in the same way than DSP but used by publishers. SSPs gather thousands of Ad Inventories.
  • An impression: when an ad is displayed on a screen.

These definitions do not go in many details. They are, of course, more complex but it will allow you to understand the basis of the following process and get an overall picture of it.

3. How does it work ?

Let’s imagine you are a company that wants to use programmatic techniques to improve and optimize results and budget of your digital campaigns.
You (or your agency if you subcontract this part) will use a DSP to specify the settings and the budget of your campaign.
Then, the DSP will automatically bid for offers of advertising spaces or impressions, in real-time.
To do that, it will connect to an Ad Exchange, which is also, on the other side, connected to various SSP.
Among those SSP and attached inventory ads, DSP will choose spaces that fit most the buyer’s demands.
Once the space is chosen, the ad will instantly be displayed on the user’s screen.
Of course, all these steps happened in few milliseconds.

Programmatic journey

Three types of programmatic exist:

The Real Time Bidding (RTB)

It is quite similar to Google Adwords, except that you do not target keywords requests but advertising spaces, “thus Adwords was the first programmatic solution, without proclaiming itself as such at that time” (Julien-Henri Maurice, 2015).
RTB auctions take place on an Ad Exchange platform most of the time.

If you are a publisher :

  • You allow any buyer to participate in auctions in real-time (even though you may specify a list of undesirables buyers).
  • This is an interesting option if you have a big volume of advertisings spaces on your website, especially for spaces offering low audiences.
  • This is the less profitable form of programmatic publicity.
  • You don’t know who are the buyers.
  • You can only establish a floor price.

If you are a buyer:

  • You allow any publisher to buy.
  • This is the less expensive option.
  • You do not know who you are buying to, the too many transactions inhibit their tracking.

This lack of tracking with the RTB brought some fake publishers to sell ad spaces that did not exist. These frauds contributed to deteriorating RTB’s image and led to the development of the Direct programming.

Direct Programming

The direct programming has been rapidly adopted by agencies that wanted high-quality advertisings spaces to their clients.
As its name suggests, transaction is performed directly. Buyers/Agencies and publishers are in direct contact.

The main difference with RTB and Direct programming is the degree of transparency and traceability. Both parties know with who they deal.

Private auction sales

The publisher narrows the participation to the auction only to a selected buyers group, on the basis of diverse criteria.

The advantage for the publisher is the high degree of transparency and the possibility to choose which ad will be displayed on its website.
For the buyer, interests are less intuitive. Indeed floor prices are usually higher than with the RTB.

The programmatic is already starting to change the way we think and work and its future seems even more exciting. Olivier Monferran, CRM & Digital Manager at Opel France, sees the programmatic as the first step towards the one-to-one marketing Grail.
So stay connected, future is coming.

5 inspiring YouTube campaigns

Years after years, YouTube became one of the most powerful media in the digital world.

Every day more than a billion users watch the equivalent of 46,000 years of videos! This audience (a third of all internet users in the world) represents a huge potential for your company, even more when you know that “an Internet user that watches a video with products has 1,6x more chances to buy them” (Siècle Digital, 2015).

Creating a content video marketing strategy is essential for your business. However your campaign has to be innovative an interactive to stand out from this digital crowd.

Below, you will watch five videos you should draw your inspiration from.

Dance Pony Dance

In 2013, Three UK, a UK Telco, launched his campaign “Dance Pony Dance”.

They recorded more than 2,500,000 views in only three days !

The special hashtag they created allowed the campaign to become viral within few days. #danceponydance had been mentioned 11,000 times in the first week, with an unbelievable positive comments rate of 95%!


Dumb Ways to Die

As all train companies around the world, the safety of their customers was a major issue for Metro Train Melbourne Pty Ltd, the operator of the suburban railway network.

After having tried various shock campaigns in the last years but without any significant results, they eventually decided in 2012 to use humor to raise awareness of their passenger.

WARNING! If you watch this video, just be aware you’ll have this song in mind all day long.

They didn’t expect such a result. More than 3,500,000 people watched the video within a month! They now reached 142,000,000 views.

The success of the campaign lies in the catchy song they especially wrote. It has been downloaded millions of times too.

In addition, riding the wave of the campaign’s success, Metro Train Melbourne launched a game as an iOS app. These mini games invite people to prevent those characters from having dangerous behaviors around trains.


How to Shock a Celebrity

Sabin Vaccine Institute had launched an innovative campaign in 2013, called END7. They were convinced (and still are) we could end seven diseases by 2020, and so end the suffering of millions of children in developing countries.

YouTube has been perfectly used to raise awareness of donors. They created a very shocking video but with a different concept than usual ones.

First of all they decided to film celebrities watching their video. So they did close-ups on Emily Blunt’s face, Eddie Redmayne’s and many others, to see how they reacted to pictures and videos of people suffering from neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and to capture their emotions.

So viewers were invited to watch the celebrities’ shocked face at the beginning and were then challenged to watch the video themselves.

Eventually, more than £60,000 were gathered within the first day (three times its production cost)!


Skittles’s double-interactive ads

Skittles is accustomed to absurd campaigns.

They launched a very easy to implement one in 2011, but which reveals itself very effective.

I let you find out by yourself:

They created five videos for this campaign that gathered 10 million views altogether.


Hell Pizza and zombies

All The Walking Dead fans will like this last campaign. It is an idea by Hell Pizza (a New Zealand-based pizza chain) who created an entire interactive movie adventure.

11 short videos were created, two to three minutes each. They make you intervene in the scenario by asking you questions on how you want the character to behave. As you may doubt, this decision will have an impact on the end of their adventure.

Will you be able to run away from the zombies and deliver the pizza alive? Do you even dare to try?

This campaign was a complete success! All of their videos gathered an average of three millions of views. The first one reached twelve million.

“Sales raised sharply and 43% of the growth was from new customers.” (Annes Org, 2016)


More than being a powerful tool to interact with your customers, YouTube is also very useful for your SEO. Indeed Google acquired the platform in 2006 and it is common knowledge that Google favors its own content in your research’s results. Being on YouTube will more likely allow your content to be ranked in the first page.

Programmatic Marketing for Dummies

How to successfully collaborate with influencers?

“92% of people trust brand recommendations from individuals” 

(Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising, 2012).

Influencer marketing is a strategy that could become your most powerful one if you manage it right. Influencers that are recognized in their industry might give you traffic and conversions on your website, and even more visibility, credibility and trustworthiness for your brand.

How to identify the best influencer ?

The most challenging part of an influencer marketing strategy is to find the right influencers with the right audience, the one that you are trying to reach

1.Choose your type of influencers

Working with a big audience blog owner should help you to increase awareness about your brand, whereas working with your own customers and gathering their opinion will help you increase your retention rate and your average basket.

Influencers may be very different, so try to be very broad-minded when thinking about the right influencer for your company. Bloggers, customers, industry experts, celebrities trendsetters and members of a consumer association; they all might have an interesting audience for you, according to the objective you have.


Let me give you two awesome tools to identify them:

  • BuzzSumo: This tool is built on the same principle than Google Trends but for social networks. It allows you to analyze trends about a keyword (or a domain name) on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+. You are also able to filter results by authors to see their best publications, their number of followers, their retweet ratio etc…
  • Followerwonk: It is also a free tool, but with some paying features. Thanks to it, you can look for keywords in profile description. Then, you will be able to compare up to three profiles, to see their number of followers, the commitment rate of each profile, the average number of new follower per day, and the average number of tweets per week. It is a very powerful tool I use on a daily basis.

When you are looking for your best influencer, do not look only at their number of followers. Do not forget to look how they talk about your business and how they interact with your future audience. This phenomenon is called Majority Illusion, and it is a trap a lot of marketers fall into when they try to identify the right influencer. The possibility to reach a large quantity of people is not equal to the influence you might have on their behavior.

3.Measure influence

Measuring the real influence of someone is something quite subjective, below you will find the three main points you should consider:

  • Relevance: Content they post has to be aligned with the image you want for your brand, and the content you will ask them to post will have to be aligned with the editorial line they already have.
  • Engagement: Take a look at their average statistics, in term of sharing, likes etc… The objective is to have an idea of the potential conversion this influencer could offer you.
  • Quality: Check the frequency of their posts and their real content. Are they really interesting or do they favor the quantity over the quality? A good sign of an influencer’s quality would be his ranking on Google. A blog spotted as “influential” by Google has a bigger chance to be ranked in the first page?

«The more trust they have within their industry, the more likely they can push your prospect further along the buyer’s journey.»

(Content Marketing Institute, 2016).


Assessing the best influencers for your brand is a process that has to be taken very seriously, and has to be reported precisely.

Here is an example of template, provided by The Content Marketing Institute, which may be useful to fill for your daily research.



How to work with your influencer ?

1.The first step is to initiate contact

Contact influencers you chose with a prepared pitch that will make them answer nothing but yes to your proposal. Make them understand you want to build a long-term relationship and collaboration, and insist on the interest they also have to work with you. The reciprocity is essential.

Here are some various ways to establish the first contact:

  • Following and sharing their content
  • Commenting on their posts with relevant comments
  • Connecting on LinkedIn and introducing yourself
  • Calling them by phone
  • Sending an email

2.Then, negotiate terms

For an efficient relationship, expected deliverables have to be set at the very beginning. Indeed the metrics you will track will depend on the main objective you have in this campaign.

The Content Marketing Institute showed us some examples of metrics according to your objective.

content marketing objectives

Then, of course, negotiate with your future partner the reward you will offer him in case of success. This might not necessarily be a financial bonus; all kind of reward might be brought into negotiations.

3.Eventually, track his efforts

It is really important to track and monitor their performance on a regular basis. It is not the most fun part, but the human nature is such that motivation might decrease with time if nobody is behind us to remind us of objectives. Keep monitoring the right analytics will help you to identify first sign of substantial drop, and so to correct this before it is too late.

Content Marketing Institute still provided us ready-made table to help us track all of your metrics.

Template to track success of influencer marketing program

Of course tracking every metrics on each post they make for you is very important and essential; nevertheless do not forget the reciprocity and the need of a healthy relationship.

Try to contribute to their business by returning favors. They are plenty of ways to be beneficial for his business too. For example you may recognize your influencer’s expertise publicly and make some promotion for his business.


«Brands saw an average ROI of $6,85 for every dollar invested”

(Burst Media, 2015).