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5 Steps to Becoming a Programmatic Genius

Programmatic is one of the most talked about developments in marketing and communications today. This use of technology to automate the processes by which digital media has become the dominant methodology by which digital (if not all) advertising is bought and sold. But the opportunities and benefits that programmatic brings in terms of increased efficiencies, better targeting and improved campaign performance have not been universally enjoyed among advertisers who seek to adopt this method of media buying.

As pervasive as programmatic advertising is, it is also one of the most unequal and segregated fields in marketing. Those who “get it” continually challenge their vendors to deliver more innovative, transparent and collaborative solutions, while others who are less advanced are left out in the cold, unable to enter into constructive dialogue.

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Most interestingly, this inequality is often not linked to the budget or buying power of the advertiser, but rather to their knowledge and eagerness to engage. It is not unusual for a programmatically savvy advertiser to be spending a fraction of the budget of their counterpart, yet receiving a much higher proportion of resource.

Luckily, becoming savvy in programmatic isn’t as difficult as many make it seem, and you don’t need to have an intricate knowledge of the programmatic ecosystem in order to begin to engage more frequently with your partners and drive a better result for your business.

Here are 5 steps that will guide you to becoming a programmatic genius:

1. Understand the data: The cornerstone of programmatic is data, but it’s pretty worthless if it’s not providing you with insights about your audience or your campaign. Your DMP will do the heavy lifting for you here – gathering the data and compiling it into audiences. Your job is to understand what you’ve got.

2. Know the different buying mechanisms: Programmatic is actually an umbrella term that describes the automation of digital media transactions via technology. There are multiple ways the transactions can actually occur, the most common being RTB (real-time-bidding), which automates an auction process on an individual impression basis. RTB is not to be confused with PMP (Private MarketPlaces) or Programmatic Direct. Before you get started, you need to understand all of these terms, since they are each different types of media transactions.

3. Get to know the platforms: In this digital age where face-to-face communication is rare, it’s easy to just skip this step. But meeting with the technology vendors you use is an important step in becoming more knowledgeable in programmatic. Each DSP and SSP has a unique point of view on the market and their own way of doing things. Make sure you are on the same page, and that your goals align.

4. Ask lots of questions: Not enough advertisers ask questions of their agency around programmatic, and in my experience there is often a limited ambition to have internal marketing teams trained in even the basics of programmatic. Don’t be afraid to look stupid in the interest of fully understanding what is happening. And more importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for explanations after the campaigns are over. You are the client after all, so you deserve to understand everything.

5. Test, rinse and repeat: Guess what – even the smartest marketers have room to learn and grow. As our industry continues to evolve, so too does the way consumers respond and interact with your messaging. They say you need to put in 1000 hours on any topic to become an expert, so don’t expect to get everything right on the first shot. If you try something that doesn’t work, change it, and try again.

This article was written by Miles Pritchard and originally appeared in Digital Marketing Magazine

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