5 Considerations for Choosing a Programmatic Partner

Tyler Nall | Jul 01, 2015

In our previous article on this topic, we explored how financial marketers might find intriguing possibilities for the use of programmatic media. In this article, we’d like to point out several issues you should consider if you’re thinking about a programmatic campaign and looking for a firm to partner with on the strategy and implementation of your campaign.

While programmatic might seem like the Holy Grail of advertising technology, with its ability to deliver the right message at the right place and time to the right person, there are a number of caveats associated with its use. That’s why it’s important for marketers today to work closely with a partner who has the experience needed to navigate the technical and strategic considerations required to drive the success of a programmatic advertising program.

To make the most of your programmatic advertising opportunities, make sure you consider the following five key issues when deciding on a strategic partner.

1.  The role of programmatic in your larger media plan

Programmatic advertising is a great way to prospect and identify specific users likely to convert on your website. However, it is even more effective when paired with other tactics, such as paid search and retargeting, for example. Remember, the idea with media strategy is to impact every level of the engagement funnel, from awareness to action to follow-up, to ensure users are being guided into decisions at each step.

We recommend talking with your media partner about the role your programmatic campaign will play relative to other media tactics. Ideally, everything should work in concert to yield significant returns above and beyond what is likely from any one tactic alone.

2.  Audience targeting parameters

Programmatic advertising relies on immense amounts of user data, typically gathered through cookie-based tracking technology or third-party data providers, to determine when to serve an ad and which message to deliver.

You’ll want to talk with your potential partners about their access to data and the tools they use to gather audience intelligence. This will contribute to their ability to target your specific audiences and subaudiences. We work with a variety of partners to provide custom targeting models for each of our clients, as their needs are often dissimilar. We also develop dynamic decision trees to determine when a specific message should be delivered. All of this results in a campaign structure that collects the type of information needed to make optimization smart, efficient and quick.

3.  Website targeting and placement

At the launch of a campaign, programmatic advertising is often more concerned with reaching the right audience than the context in which an ad will be delivered. Think for a moment about the times you’ve visited a website and then seen an ad for the brand on another page. Chances are, the context in which you saw the follow-up ad was not related to the content of the webpage you visited. Data analysis shows us that remaining top-of-mind as someone is mentally in the market for a product or service can have a dramatic influence on their decision to engage, regardless of the context of their subsequent browsing.

In discussions with our partners, we often categorize the process of deciding where to place programmatic advertising as both proactive and reactive. It begins by proactively selecting well-known websites (such as Yahoo Sports, WSJ, etc., based on the industry) that are highly likely to provide a good fit for the goals of a campaign and adding those to a “white list.” These are sites that will definitely be advertised on if someone within the target audience visits. Conversely, a “block list” is also developed and spells out sites that will be avoided, most likely because they have proven ineffective in the past.

As data is collected throughout a campaign, all placements should be evaluated for their ability to drive converting traffic, and sites should be added to the white list or block list accordingly. Talking with your prospective partners about their process for deciding where and when an ad should be placed will help you become more confident in their ability to build a successful campaign that delivers ROI.

4.  Auto and manual optimization

While there have been many articles written about how programmatic advertising can be an automated process, it still requires a great deal of human involvement to analyze and generate actionable insights from the data collected. All elements of the campaign (targeting parameters, placements, etc.) should be evaluated against website analytics and data. While impression and click-through data is important, it’s equally significant to understand the actual conditions that are driving real conversions. As mentioned above, perhaps a certain group of sites is driving the lion’s share of conversions where others are contributing to a high bounce rate. Obviously, you’d want to optimize toward the better-performing placements.

We see this as an ongoing conversation. We review campaign data regularly to watch for clear trends or random spikes in activity that indicate the potential to reach more qualified prospects and strengthen conversion rates. At the same time, we suggest how you might adapt to emerging circumstances—either positive or negative—to take advantage of opportunities to improve your program. We recommend talking with your prospective partners about their process for optimization and the frequency at which they will be reviewing campaign data.

5.  Comfort level

Programmatic advertising is not a magic bullet. It can be an effective and efficient way to prospect, but it is best when combined with paid search, retargeting and other communication channels. Your commitment to programmatic advertising should depend on your needs, your larger communication strategy and your comfort level with new approaches.

Since it is a fairly new technology, your agency should be able to work with you to create a strategy that will benefit your situation. Beyond that, they should be able to simply articulate the process and collaborate with you at every step so that you can be comfortable with the decisions being made. At Blue Flame Thinking, we believe your agency’s relationship with you is just as important as their level of knowledge.

Programmatic advertising isn’t foolproof…but if you heed these general guidelines, you can find a great partner for your needs and increase your chances of “getting your media’s worth.” For more information, call Tyler Nall at 312-327-5132 or send an email to

Tyler Nall

Tyler combines innovative strategy with the latest delivery platforms to craft customized media campaigns with proven success.

Related Insights

XB-0188_Data Detective_Blog Post (1)