It’s hard to believe that this week will mark my seventh time attending Adobe Summit, the largest digital marketing conference of its kind. In the past, I’ve had the opportunity to meet top brands, attend the legendary Adobe Bash, as well as learn the latest innovations in experience management, marketing analytics, and of course, personalization and optimization. This year, however, I’m looking forward to a vertical that’s becoming important for decision makers on every level: programmatic media buying.

According to Adobe, over the next five years, the percent of digital media that will be bought through a programmatic platform will grow from 18% to 60% — from almost $10 billion to nearly $70 billion.[1] This creates an incredible opportunity for brands, particularly those who are invested or are looking to invest in digital media. However, to use programmatic media buying effectively, it’s imperative to know how data, messaging, and partners can affect your buying strategy, while also understanding that the programmatic landscape can make media buying less efficient and less transparent unless applied with the appropriate forethought.

In a new era of advertising, leveraging the right tools and the right data at the right time can make all the difference. To shed some light on this topic, I sat down with Geoff Greenblatt, our resident expert on digital advertising, to gain some insights into programmatic media buying. As the Head of Digital at Ebiquity – North America, Geoff routinely advises brands on what they need to know when it comes to programmatic.

Q: Let’s start with the basics. What is programmatic media buying and why do brands need to pay attention to it?

A: Simply put, programmatic media buying means buying that incorporates the use of data, technology, and algorithms to automate, predict, and present relevant ads in real-time. While it sounds like a basic concept, programmatic can potentially be hard to understand, particularly given the fact that many brands find themselves confused on how to execute their strategies.

However, once a brand becomes educated on the nuances of programmatic media buying, the benefits are huge, including audience-based buying, buying across channels and devices, as well as creating dynamic experiences for the user. To get to this point though, brands have to know what information is useful, how to gather that useful information, and then how to use it to improve future activations, and your business as a whole.

Q: With that in mind, what is one big mistake brands make as they shift into programmatic media buying?

A: Brands need to understand their options across the programmatic landscape, especially when it comes to selecting a partner. Whether you are a brand manager or a publisher, you need to recognize all of your partner options in order to select the ones best suited to fit your needs. Oftentimes, and for a variety of reasons, brands and publishers do not assess all of their options and may be saddled with a less-than-perfect fit.

There are several elements to consider when selecting a partner, but four key ones to hone in on are:

  • Technology offerings
  • Inventory selection, quality, and association
  • Capabilities
  • Fees

Once all of this information is laid out, the best decisions for partnership can be made.

Q: What’s the best way to handle data collection?

A: It’s important to streamline the use of data strategically. Data can be collected first-hand or purchased through third party data providers. With multiple sources to choose from, it is vital for a brand to find the right balance. Going too broad may not be effective, while piling on the layers may curtail reach and drive up costs inefficiently.

Brands should use first party data to define proper targets and gain actionable insights, and use additional third party data to aid those insights and identify the best impressions to bid on based on these two collective information sets. This provides a “data balance” of sorts which provides the best chances of success.

Q: Let’s talk about messaging. What do brands need to know as they formulate their messages through programmatic media buying?

It’s simple: the right message for the right moment. Programmatic buying is about reaching target consumers at the optimal time with the most effective message. Thus, these moments – consumer plus platform plus time – must be defined.

Q: And how should brand define these moments?

A: Data and insights can be used to determine which messages are the most effective in each specific moment, and the right message for each moment being used must exist. While this may mean creating multiple messages, which may in turn drive up costs, it will make using programmatic buying the most effective it can possibly be.

Q: If you could give one piece of advice to programmatic beginners who are attending Adobe Summit, what would it be?

A: Programmatic beginners have to increase their knowledge base and they have to work with partners who understand the programmatic buying process. However, this also goes for those who’ve been involved with programmatic media buying for some time, as well – the industry is always evolving. It’s in keeping up with these trends that brands can adjust their strategies accordingly.

Bottom line: ask the right questions and develop the processes that will enable your brand to make the most educational, insightful, and efficient programmatic media buying decisions. Once these goals are met, brands will be able create and execute a more effective strategy…and see better outcomes as a result.