What is programmatic advertising? Simply put, programmatic advertising is the automated buying and selling of digital advertising space. It is most widely used for digital display, but is becoming an increasingly popular way to buy video/television space, and is even finding its way into the digital OOH (out-of-home) arena, where traditional billboards are becoming digitised and targeted. Essentially, programmatic allows advertisers to target premium inventory at a fraction of the cost.
Why programmatic advertising is important
Delving deeper, we can see that there is far more to it than that. It’s not something that’s going away either – in fact, Zenith (a Publicis media agency) estimates that $98bn will be spent on programmatic advertising in 2020 alone, accounting for a massive 68% of total annual media advertising spend.
Programmatic campaigns are managed through a platform known as a DSP (demand side platform). One of the major advantages of programmatic advertising is that using a DSP allows us to get very specific with targeting. With a (non-programmatic) direct buy placement, you have the ability to pick your ad placement on the publisher’s site – and, if you’re lucky, you can add some publisher audience data. Buying programmatically, on the other hand, still allows you to target specific publishers or sets of publishers, but with far superior audience targeting.
With access to hundreds of thousands of data segments from almost 1,000 data providers and the ability to mix and match these audiences, programmatic targeting options mean you can get incredibly granular with not only where your ads are served, but also who they are served to. This is in addition to complex device information targeting – with programmatic, advertisers are able to specify everything from make and model, to operating system and browser, to service provider and connection speed. The combination of targeting available means that you are not only targeting exactly who you want to target, but are also hugely decreasing media wastage.
How to target HNWIs through programmatic advertising
Step 1: Define your personas
When it comes to targeting high-net-worth individuals, there are plenty of options. The first is to define your ideal customer persona(s). This needs to be as detailed as possible and can be a combination of things you know you’ll always want to target, such as ‘annual household income over £200k’; things you have learnt from previous campaigns or research, such as ‘drives X car’ or wears X watch’; and any kind of high-end brand affiliations. You should also include things you want to target specifically for this campaign, such as showing an interest in holidays in a particular destination or interest in a particular sport.
Step 2: Match your personas to data segments
Once these personas are built, you can match them to the data segments available to us in the platform. Campaigns will then be built around these audiences, allowing for a highly granular approach to your campaigns. The advantage of individual programmatic campaigns is that they allow us to tailor placements, imagery and user journey (we’ll talk more about these later on), so that they resonate as much as possible with the target audience.
Step 3: Decide where to place your ads
Once you are happy with the audience personas you have in place, you need to finalise your programmatic targeting options – ie decide where you want your ads to be shown. There are several ways to approach this. The first is to buy ad space from specific media owners with HNW readers, such as FT, The Economist, Reuters or WSJ (to name just a few) via a PMP (private marketplace – an invitation only marketplace, typically reserved for higher calibre publishers) or a direct programmatic deal. This option allows you to negotiate deals with the publishers you want to work with and specify the number of impressions you would like to buy from each.
The second way is to run a whitelist campaign. This way means you do not have any specific deals with publishers or any guarantee of impressions. However, inventory bought this way typically carries a lower CPM (cost per thousand impressions) than that bought via a PMP.
The third way – and this is only recommended if you have a water-tight audience targeting strategy and/or have the necessary brand safety measures (something we talk about later) in place – is to run a blacklist campaign where you specify only sites on which you do not want your ads to be served. This approach obviously has the potential to reach much more widely than the other two as it targets your audience no matter where on the internet they are.
Step 4: Choose your ad creative
So, we have defined the perfect audience and put together a comprehensive contextual strategy to reach this audience in the places we want our brand to be seen. Now it’s time to decide exactly what we want to be showing to them. Creative strategy plays a huge role in any digital campaign and especially those that are aimed at targeting HNWIs – these users will likely be browsing the most premium content on the internet and if you want to get their attention with a display ad, you need to be sure that every element of that ad resonates with them: gone are the days when a simple static banner would suffice!
Realistically, you’re going to want to be using HTML5 banners for all your display advertising placements. These banners allow you to make your luxury brand look as good as it should on any webpage, but also have the functionality to allow you to do that little bit extra with your creative strategy. For example, you can dynamically serve creative based on event signals such as weather changes or the results of sporting events (or even things like goals scored in a match), or signals much more specific to your industry or business, like product prices or product releases.
Another advantage of programmatic advertising through a DSP is creative sequencing or storytelling; this again relies on data signals and can be used in a number of ways. The most simplistic use case for this is to show a user a set of creatives in a particular order to introduce them to your brand or products.
Another way you can use sequencing is to start with a generic creative, then once a user has visited a particular page/product/category on site you can serve a more specific ad to them, highlighting exactly what they have shown an interest in. A great example of this in action is Marriott Hotels’ ALP (audience-led planning) campaign, where users who had never been exposed to any Marriott content were served a generic ad, then as users engaged with particular content or ads they’d be served ads based on the hotels or events most relevant to them.
Personalising content to users is not online a great way to increase conversion and brand recall rates, but is also a great tool to help you understand more about your audience. These are some very basic examples of interesting creative approaches.
Why brand safety is important in programmatic advertising
Brand safety is a very important factor in any luxury campaign. Nowhere is that more true than in a programmatic campaign. When a display campaign isn’t bought direct or via a whitelist, there is always the risk that your brand may appear next to some unsavoury content or in front of non-human ‘eyes’. This isn’t a small problem either – eMarketer reported the ad fraud industry to be worth $5.8bn in 2019, which is actually down 11% from 2017 where it was worth an estimated $6.5bn and $7.1bn in 2015.
This is a massive, although declining, problem, which all major ad-tech vendors are aware of, and any reputable DSP will have brand safety and verification measures in place. However, the ad fraud industry is constantly evolving. My recommendation to ensure you are 100% safe is to work with a brand safety partner such as DoubleVerify, which specialises in brand safety, verification and viewability.
Programmatic: part of the bigger picture
It’s important to remember that a digital display campaign is primarily focused on targeting users at the top of the funnel and shouldn’t be seen as a standalone marketing solution. Optimum performance will be seen when your display advertising is working alongside your other marketing channels, particularly lower funnel channels like search engine marketing. The platform we use here at Relevance, DV360, lends itself to this approach as it offers a direct integration with the Google Ads platform, meaning that you can not only feed your search campaigns but also directly target audiences who have seen or clicked your search ads with a relevant display ad.
The programmatic ecosystem is a complicated place, there’s no denying that. With more and more advertisers dedicating increased shares of their media budgets to it, the technology will only grow, and inevitably programmatic targeting options will become more complex. And programmatic advertising is not without its dangers. It’s very easy to throw away a huge chunk of your budget on a poorly executed programmatic campaign – the important thing is that you work with a partner who knows the technology inside out but also fully understands where to find a high-net-worth audience and how to get your message in front of them, but ultimately, how to do these things in a way that is going to captivate this audience.
By Rumble Romagnoli and Sam Matthews.