Christmas, Curated: Making the most of your programmatic marketing through the holiday season


Way back in February, we introduced our readers to a nifty (what was then new-ish) concept: programmatic marketing. Since that post, it has hit the marketing world by storm. As an early (early) Christmas gift, we wanted to pull together the basics of programmatic marketing so you can get started on your Christmas campaign, regardless of whether you’ve done it before or you’re a newbie. So buckle up and get ready for a drive through the world of programmatic marketing. 2015 has been quite the ride for this new marketing technology, and 2016 promises to be even bigger – so why not try your first campaign for the holidays and make a new year’s resolution to use it more next year, too?

By the way, if you’d prefer to read this at a later time please go ahead and download your FREE Acrobat PDF of this post by clicking the thumbnail below.

Free download: Programmatic-Roundup-2015

First things first

If you’ve missed our previous posts, or been living under a marketing rock, you’ll want to know exactly what programmatic marketing is. Our quick guide to programmatic marketing gives a pretty good background, but here’s the short(er) version: programmatic marketing is a digital advertising method that uses machines to buy and display ads and messages to various audiences. Talk about being a time saver.


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Source: adgear

Previously, programmatic marketing was used only for display advertising, but now its uses have proliferated to meet many use cases. That’s because this year marketers have tried to find new and innovative ways to knit together the data they get across platform and device. There are numerous reasons for why marketers need to take this approach. The biggest is because many, many more consumers are using multiple devices in one buying cycle. In addition, consumers often bounce between various platforms – email, social, websites, advertising – as they make buying decisions. Thus, programmatic marketing (executed well) makes it easier for you to gain exposure and build trust at any stage in the buying cycle.

So, want to get started?

Ready for better conversions and higher ROI? It’s gonna be great, but hold yer horses for just a moment. Before jumping right in, you’ll need to figure out a few things.

Step 1: Know the talk so you can walk the walk

Before you do anything else, get to know a few key terms used in the programmatic world. Its pretty important to have a solid grasp of these terms so you don’t run off implementing something you later realise you don’t need or want. We wrote a blog entry about some of the vernacular, mostly around programmatic advertising. Make sure to take a quick look to bone up on your vocab before setting off.


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Source: IAB [PDF] via

Step 2: Determine where programmatic marketing will do you the most good

Programmatic marketing can be done on most platforms nowadays. Don’t be overwhelmed (or even excited) by your choices too early, or even follow the trends. Start instead by diving into your data and figuring out where programmatic will have the most reach, combined with the most promise for engagement. Crack this and you’ll find out where programmatic marketing will do you the most good.


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Source: Forbes

Start with your analytics. Find out where your traffic is already coming from.


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From there, you can make decisions based on the numbers. Questions to ask yourself include:

  • What sources drive the most traffic to my site?
  • What sources drive the most qualified (i.e. engaged) traffic to my site?

Step 3: Start to plan a campaign

Only once you’ve learned to understand the talk and know a bit about where you want to focus your energy should you start planning your campaign. Building on the example above, if referral sources drive the most traffic (and quite engaged traffic, at that) to your site, you may want to invest in programmatic display ads. These are ads that are generated on websites across the ‘net. The great thing is, you get to pick who see the ads, based on demographics and interests. For example, if you’re selling women’s shoes, there’s no need for you to waste money on impressions viewed on a GQ article about show jumping that a confirmed bachelor is reading. You can program your ads to serve only to people who are interested in your products, and even better, you can refine where the ads show up. Think ad retargeting, and you’ve got the idea – except, instead of targeting warm leads, you are, in effect, finding warm leads automatically.

To start planning your campaign, you’ll probably want to know more about your customers. The best way to do that is to understand the customer journey. If you understand the multiple ways in which a customer can come in touch with your brand, and what generally spurs buying, you can start to determine the nuts and bolts of the campaign such as:

  1. Target audience demographics
  2. Ad language
  3. Ad creative
  4. Cadence and frequency of ads
  5. Sites to white- and blacklist
  6. Estimated impressions
  7. Expected conversion rate
  8. Secondary programmatic funnels

Remember that more than likely, you’ll want to build out your programmatic efforts to cover more than one platform; perhaps you’ll start with display on websites, and move to social, for example. The above will serve you regardless of where you start – and develop!

Step 4: Make sure you have a way to attribute your programmatic efforts to correctly determine your ROI

After getting your campaign together, it would be awful if you didn’t correctly attribute your new business to the right campaign. That’s why you’ll want to make sure to build a strong attribution model that allows you to collect and use data to your advantage.

We truly hope, as we head into the Christmas season, that these tips will help you create a holiday campaign that gets you results and increased ROI – something that will make us all as holly jolly as old Saint Nic himself.

Points of note

  1. Programmatic marketing is increasing important as more consumers are using multiple devices in each buying cycle.
  2. The programmatic world is complex and ever evolving; make sure you bone up on the fundamentals.
  3. You can employ spending on programmatic in so many places so analyse your core data to determine where your spend will deliver your greatest ROI.
  4. Understand the customer journey to help build out a campaign, maximising the results of your efforts and demonstrate that understanding by delivering to your customers irrespective of touchpoint.
  5. Build a strong attribution model so make sure you are correctly measuring results and feeding that back into the future campaigns.


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