Industry Insights Advertising Programmatic

From one marketer to another: how to crack programmatic

The Trade Desk


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April 3, 2019 | 6 min read

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Programmatic: the adtech phenomenon of the last decade? However highly you rate it personally, it has transformed the ad industry – but the buzz and the know-how hasn’t necessarily always filtered through to marketing. In fact, all too often it’s left to be someone else’s responsibility. In the interests of bringing programmatic right to the heart of marketing, here are a few tips – from one marketer to another – on how you can make the most of everything programmatic has to offer.

Marketers to another

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Education, education, education

Cast your eyes back to the arrival of social media to the marketing sector. Five years ago, marketers were still figuring out how it actually worked, with questions abounding as to its real impact and necessity. Fast forward to the present and it’s an intuitive, integral part of every campaign and every budget – and rightly so.

Programmatic is the next big thing for marketers. It automates ad buying, and helps us make those ads more targeted and relevant. If we don’t get to grips with it sooner or later, it’s going to pass us by – but that shouldn’t strike fear in your heart. Whatever your level, knowledge is the wellspring of new opportunities, and programmatic is no exception.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the actual learning, there’s no shortcut – it’s simply a matter of hours put in, whether that’s reading or taking part in an online course. At The Trade Desk, we have our own ‘Trading Academy’ to help bring our clients, as well as everyone on our team, up to speed on both programmatic and our own technology as quickly as possible.

As a tip, the more you can think of it as a key part of your own professional development – rather than an added extra – and build it into your schedule, the easier it’ll be.

And the results will pay off. Ultimately, the more you know about programmatic, the more you can be asking the right questions – and the less you’re letting complexity put you at a disadvantage. With a 360º view of the playing field, you can challenge any agency or tech supplier going on budgets, tools, and the rest. So don’t get left in the dark – hit the books!

Enhancement, not replacement

But remember – the fundamentals of our industry remain the same. We’re incorporating new tech into existing structures rather than junking everything that came before in the name of progress. What that means is, you shouldn’t neglect other strands of marketing just because programmatic has arrived.

After all, digital exists not just alongside, but amongst a whole host of other strands of marketing. The very same consumer might hop between channels throughout their day, both digital and analogue – reading a paper on their train to work, listening to Spotify at their desk, and dipping into connected TV (CTV) in the evening. Being aware of this flexibility and responding to it holistically is crucial.

This is where digital can lead. Digital teems with mountains of invaluable data, and it’s those insights which are key to both driving optimisation and bringing creativity to your campaigns, whatever the platform.

That’s why digital should come first and guide, enhance, and improve the implementation of every other channel, right from the start. Try a ‘test and learn’ approach: ultimately, the quickest way to find out what works is to give it a go. Then you can reap the digital benefits at every step and stage of the campaign, from first to last.

Who dares, wins

A final piece of advice: as ever in life there’s no reward without risk.

You may well have heard of the 5% rule – spending 5% of your time on something creative to help broaden your mind. Why not extend this to budget? By dipping your toes a little into the water and putting 5% of your budget aside, you’ve enough to focus on a new channel. For example, connected TV. You can get a feel for how the technology works, play around a bit and make a note of how it aligns with your other channels, as well as the sweet spots for future reference.

At the end of the day, if you do the same thing as everyone else, you’ll get the same results. But take a tiny risk and the programmatic effect is sure to ripple outwards – putting you right at the front of the pack ahead of your competitors.

What’s in a name?

And remember, programmatic is just a word. The more you allow yourself to get caught up or intimidated by the name itself, the less you’re able to focus on the amazing technology and all it allows you to do.

The fact is, programmatic is efficient, simple to execute, and a canny way to boost ROI. It’s also inextricably linked up with some of the most exciting developments hitting our industry, whether that’s AI-powered insights or dynamic creative optimisation.

So all that’s left to do now is to get on board, try it.

Sebastian Gutierrez, marketing director EMEA, The Trade Desk

+44 (0) 203 826 7105


Industry Insights Advertising Programmatic

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The Trade Desk

The Trade Desk™ is a global technology company that empowers buyers of advertising. Through its self-service, cloud-based platform, ad buyers can create, manage,...

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