All marketers have a common goal: to connect with the right people in the moments that matter. To do so, more and more brands are embracing programmatic buying to deliver relevant, engaging experiences and, ultimately, earn brand love. In this article, Bob Arnold, a digital marketer who has worked at Procter and Gamble, Kellogg, and now Google, offers three resolutions for marketers as they implement programmatic in 2015: measure what matters, be relentless about inventory quality, and prioritize mobile and video.
Much has changed for marketers over the years, but one thing remains the same: the desire to connect with people in all the moments that matter. This is why brands spend a great deal of time and resources to gain audience insights. Understanding people's motivations—what drives or excites them, for example—is essential to designing compelling creative that resonates. But how do we make sure we're reaching the right people at the right time? This is where programmatic technology comes into play.
As a digital marketer for the last decade plus at Procter and Gamble, Kellogg, and now Google, I've seen how technology can help personalize mass reach. I believe this is why more and more brands are embracing programmatic. Nike is a great example. During the World Cup, Nike used real-time buying to deliver immersive 3D display ads across sites and apps in 15 countries. After a memorable match, fans were able to interact with these moments, making them their own. This type of personalized, interactive experience earned Nike over 2 million engagements.
By using programmatic buying to deliver relevant, engaging experiences, brands can elevate their appeal and, ultimately, get rewarded with brand love. Whether you're new to it or not, I've got three suggestions—resolutions, if you will—for marketers as they begin to implement programmatic in 2015.
Resolution #1: Measure what matters
Breakthroughs in measurement are helping move marketers closer to meaningful brand metrics. Brands can finally understand if their ads were seen and if they reached the right people. They can learn what people thought about their ads and if the ads changed people's perceptions. And, ultimately, brands can understand what people did as a result of seeing their ads. These advancements are turning brand measurement in digital from a weakness to a strength.
Recent Google research shows, among other things, that 56.1% of all served ad impressions are not seen. Metrics mean nothing (or, should I say, reveal nothing) if an ad isn't seen. A new measurement metric, the viewable impression, now gives marketers better insight into whether people actually saw their ads. And that's the point, right? If they didn't see your ad, you're guaranteed that they didn't interact with it. Being able to measure programmatic buys based on this metric means that your creative really will have a chance to make an impact.
Viewability is having a profound effect on our own marketing efforts here at Google. We took these learnings and applied them to our Chrome campaigns. The results were truly astonishing. When we maximized brand visibility by targeting viewability with ActiveView on DoubleClick Bid Manager, viewability more than doubled while viewable CPM decreased by more than 50%. More ads were seen, and costs decreased as a result.
Our customers are also seeing positive results by transacting on viewability. For the TalkTalk Telecom Group, viewability of its ads was a key challenge to quantifying and validating its digital investment. In an effort to get more eyeballs on its ads, TalkTalk used DoubleClick's Active View solution and was able to increase viewable impressions by 93% while lowering costs (post-click CPA by 43%).
Resolution #2: Be relentless about inventory quality
With programmatic buying, brands have access to vast amounts of inventory, data, and targeting. In fact, eMarketer predicts that 83% of all display buys will be programmatic by 2017. As the numbers rise, inventory quality will become even more of a priority as brands strive to get the content and context right. Significant innovation in areas like verification and fraud detection are helping rectify many longstanding inventory quality issues, and verification solutions will help marketers protect both their brand and budget by ensuring that inventory is placed in only "safe" environments.
One growing trend is the popularity among big publishers to use private marketplaces and programmatic direct buys to sell their inventory. This means there is more premium inventory available programmatically than ever before, and this is the inventory brands want to buy. Depending on the desired mix of control and scale, brands can choose from a myriad of options to ensure they reach people in brand safe environments.
Resolution #3: Make mobile and video a priority
With consumers constantly connected, marketers face a challenge in reaching and engaging people wherever they are. In fact, according to Mary Meeker's 2014 Internet Trends report, while 20% of the time we spend on media is within a mobile environment, only 4% of the U.S.'s advertising spend is allocated to mobile. The good news is that the reach of programmatic across screens, channels, and formats makes the opportunity to connect with people, wherever they are, achievable.
Further, a tremendous amount of creative flexibility now exists in digital advertising. We can do anything in an ad that can be done on a web page—embed a game, host a Hangout, show a video, and more. Thanks to technologies such as HTML5, these capabilities are not just limited to the desktop; ads can be created for any screen, which is critical given the increasing amount of time consumers spend across screens.
We're also seeing impressive growth in video. In 2014 we saw 4X growth in the number of impressions for videos transacted programmatically. This isn't surprising given that the sight, sound, motion, and interactivity of video engages consumers like no other medium. And programmatic video can be much more powerful because brands are able to reach the right audience. According to a BI Intelligence report, real-time bidding sales for video ads should hit $3.9B in 2018 (up from $500M in 2014). By prioritizing cross-screen reach and rich formats with their advertising, brands follow the consumer and set themselves up for success with programmatic buying.
Delivering brand love in 2015
Programmatic technology has created a way for brands to establish deeper connections with their audiences by helping them get the right ad to the right consumer on any screen and in any channel. Brands can now measure the viewability of ads and buy impressions based on this metric while making sure their ads are placed in safe, quality environments. The brands that succeed in 2015 will be those that think beyond formats and platforms and leverage the strength of programmatic to understand their audiences and deliver compelling creative that consumers want to view.