Guide: Programmatic Ad Campaign Best Practices

Programmatic Ad

Many marketers and agencies have started devoting larger percentages of advertising dollars towards programmatic campaigns. These campaigns have proven to be more effective than traditional media buying campaigns since they use real-time data and automation. The problem, however, is that people also believe that programmatic is “easier” than other types of campaign because it is “automated”.

Yet, creating a programmatic ad campaign is not as simple as flipping a switch. There’s a proper planning process that needs to take place before one is launched. Time is needed as well as a full strategy approach in order to successfully engage in programmatic. Here are essential programmatic campaign best practices to follow when developing your media strategy.


Despite that fact that programmatic is very fast and automated to execute, at the outset it’s important to start with an overarching strategy and have the right amount of resources in place. Programmatic campaigns must begin with the following items clearly in place:

  • Solid strategy
  • Audience definition
  • KPIs
  • Targeting
  • Expectations
  • Campaign mechanics (including which targets/audiences to include/exclude)
  • Testing

These items must also be translated in the proper way into the programmatic trading desk environment, where audiences are very well-defined.


Since data is the core of programmatic, data must also have a correct structure in place. Programmatic relies heavily on data from a variety of sources. Marketers and agencies must look at their data technologies and ask themselves the following questions:

  • What is being tracked?
  • How is it being tracked?
  • Is the tracking set up in the most optimal and best way?
  • Is the tracking being tested, and is everything firing in the way it’s suppose to be firing

If someone setting up a programmatic campaign can’t answer these questions, then they need to investigate their data environment and data capture technologies before they go any further down the programmatic path.


The third component is creative. Creative needs to be developed and put in place before a campaign can launch. Most people think that creative can be an after-thought – or even generic. With programmatic, however, creative needs to be targeted and personalized towards the audience.

Marketers and agencies should consider the following questions in regards to creative:

  • How is creative and messaging being aligned to media?
  • What are the strategies around frequency?
  • At what frequency are messages being shown?
  • Which message is being shown to which target audiences?
  • What packages are being chosen?
  • Is the creative aligned with the landing page or website to which traffic is being driven?
  • Is messaging being tested, including to determine if messaging/creative is properly supporting landing page/website messaging?

While most people think that programmatic is as simple as flipping a switch, it’s actually not. It takes time to properly create and launch a campaign. In fact, it can take up to 10 business days to properly create a campaign.

The overall takeaway is this: No matter what type of campaign is being run – whether it’s a traditional media buying or programmatic setup, a solid strategy, sound QA testing and implementation are still critical to launch a campaign and for it to be successful.