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Micro-moments are the new battleground for brands. They are intent-driven moments when consumers' preferences are shaped and decisions are made. Here are some tips and examples that show how programmatic can help marketers identify and win these moments—big and small.

Every day, your audience is filling their days with hundreds if not thousands of micro-moments—intent-rich moments when preferences are shaped and decisions are made. As consumers spread their attention across more and more screens and channels, those moments can happen almost anywhere, anytime. People search on their smartphones while in front of the TV. They watch YouTube videos on their tablets while texting their friends. They open a mobile app to shop for the perfect gift, then head to the store to buy it. With mobile devices never more than an arm's length away, people can find and buy anything, anytime.

For marketers, this means the purchase funnel is wildly more complicated than it was just a few years ago.

It's hard to plan for nonlinear purchase paths, but programmatic advertising can help, enabling brands to reach the right person with the right message in the moment of opportunity. Brands can use programmatic to assemble a consumer's micro-moments in just the right way—like joining puzzle pieces together—to see a detailed blueprint of consumer intent. That's a powerful proposition, and it's why programmatic advertising spend is projected to grow by more than 77% this year.1

"Brands can use programmatic to assemble a consumer's micro-moments in just the right way—like joining puzzle pieces together—to see a detailed blueprint of consumer intent."

With our brand marketer's guide as the foundation, here are four tips for using programmatic to win these micro-moments and examples of brands that are doing it right.

1. Start by identifying the moments that matter

Micro-moments happen when people are looking for answers, discovering new things, and making decisions. These consumer actions signal the intent and context brands need to be relevant, so understanding them is essential.

The first tip is to organize audience insights—across apps and stores visited, websites browsed, and videos watched—to get a complete picture of the customer's purchase journey and identify the make-or-break moments. With a complete view of a consumer's preferences, brands can now use programmatic buying to deliver an ad that's relevant to that consumer in the moment and far more likely to win her business.

The power of programmatic is that it lets marketers do this not just for one person, but for people everywhere, no matter their interests, budgets, or locations.

Case study:

Last year, L'Oréal Canada was tasked with re-introducing its Shu Uemura makeup brand to North American consumers. Though the brand saw success internationally, stagnant sales in the U.S. and Canada resulted in pulling the brand from shelves in 2010. With no physical point of purchase in the U.S. and limited distribution in Canada, L'Oréal turned to digital—specifically, programmatic channels—to lead prospects down the purchase path.

Shu Uemura's e-commerce team set out to reach women, ages 25 to 30, who had previously purchased high-end cosmetics online. They were shown different creative, depending on where they were in their purchase journeys.

The strategy paid off because Shu Uemura was able to balance prospecting and remarketing tactics across programmatic buys. The effort drove nearly 2X the anticipated revenue, exceeded CPA targets, and achieved a 2,200% return on ad spend (ROAS). The brand also saw an increase in web traffic and email subscriptions.

2. Design relevant creative that delights your audience

When people get the information they're seeking, they're more likely to make a purchase, but that moment of need can pass quickly. Now that you've identified the right moments, how can you use those insights to fuel creative tailored to those moments?

The reality is that even if you reach the right audience, the chances of breaking through are small if marketers deliver a bad or irrelevant creative experience. Mobile and programmatic create an amazing opportunity for brands to be hyper-relevant. Brands can overlay audience data with robust contextual signals like location, time of day, and even the weather to deliver highly customized creative that people will engage with.

Case study:

Recognizing that young football fanatics watch live games with mobile devices in hand, EA Sports decided to explore dynamic ad capabilities. For last year's rollout of Madden NFL 15, the video game developer teamed up with Google to launch the Madden GIFERATOR.

During NFL games, EA fused video game footage with live NFL data to generate GIF highlights of the big plays. The GIFs were delivered via real-time display ads across sports websites and apps.

By using dynamic creative, EA was able to activate mobile ads with different combinations of copy, images, and backgrounds on-the-fly that reflected what was happening in the game at that exact moment. The ads then took fans to a collection of shareable GIFs with 100,000-plus interchangeable creative combinations, which they could customize in seconds and share with friends.

EA also ensured fans saw relevant GIF highlights of their favorite teams through custom affinity targeting. Fans spent an average of nine minutes in the experience and created more than 400K user-generated GIFs.

3. Reach your audience across screens and channels in the moment

So now that you've identified the most important moments and you've tailored the creative to the moment, how do you reach an always-connected consumer in a brand-safe and desirable environment? This is where marketers are really starting to realize the potential of programmatic for brand building.

With programmatic, it's possible to find the exact audiences you're looking for across the millions of sites, apps, and videos they consume, even as they switch between devices. And with many consumers moving between multiple screens throughout their days, programmatic can make a real-time decision to show a mobile video ad to one person and a display ad on a tablet to another—based on what will drive the greatest impact.

But finding the right audience is only one side of the coin. Brands also want to reach that audience when they're engaging with the right content. And with the emerging availability of premium inventory like Google Preferred, YouTube TrueView, Google Partner Select, and Promoted Tweets via programmatic channels, advertisers are now able to connect with their audiences with all the benefits of data and automation in brand-safe channels.

4. Measure the impact, then respond quickly

You've reached the last—and perhaps most important—question: How do you know it worked? The last tip is to measure the impact of campaigns based on the metrics that matter to your brand.

By measuring the effectiveness of specific messages across devices, brands can learn the true impact of each channel and the role it plays in driving conversions. Marketers can make smarter, faster decisions by identifying how much each channel contributes to campaign success.

Was my ad seen? What did consumers think? And what actions did they take as a result? With the right measurement tools, brands can get answers to these questions more quickly and make adjustments while their campaign is live.

Case study:

During the launch of Mondelēz International's Trident Unlimited brand, the snack leader wanted to gain insight into its video campaign effectiveness and target audience in Brazil. The goals? Improve efficiency and optimize its campaign in real time.

Mondelēz produced and tested two versions of a TrueView ad for YouTube featuring popular Brazilian actor Cauã Reymond. Video #1 showed him putting gum into his mouth at the beginning and video #2 opened with him already chewing the gum.

The team quickly learned through Brand Lift findings that video #2 was performing better. It led to a 36% lift in brand awareness, 5% higher than video #1. Accordingly, the brand decided to run video #2 alone, increasing recall to nearly 97%.

Mondelēz saw the power of advanced measurement to uncover consumer preferences and behaviors that weren't obvious on the surface. With programmatic buying and creative testing, brands can understand what is working well and adapt their media buys in real time.

Programmatic puts the pieces together

Micro-moments are changing the rules for how brands engage with consumers. And while these micro-moments are, by definition, small and personal, programmatic lets brands respond to them in aggregate and at scale.

By keeping these four tips in mind, you can deliver on individual audience needs across devices and situations with the confidence that the message you're delivering has the greatest chance to make an impact.

Discover more tips on how to use our programmatic solutions to identify and win the moments that matter.