Marketing Tips: Personalization and Real Time Bidding

Real Time Bidding

Thriving in today’s ultra competitive online environment isn’t easy. But powerful new ad technologies give you the tools you need to come out on top. The key is giving users exactly what they want: a unique experience tailored to suit their needs and interests. Personalization – not trying to flood the market with generic ad inventory – is the name of the game in today’s successful ad campaigns.

But what does it mean? And how can you use it to its fullest potential?

Many Media Professionals Have a Narrow View of Personalized Ads

The days where advertisers could plaster banner ads on a few websites and enjoy decent conversion rates are over. Consumers’ expectations for digital advertising have never been higher. According to Ann Lewnes, CMO for Abode, “they expect a story tailored specially for them… and, most importantly, a great experience. Brands delivering anything less will ultimately be ignored.” In an increasingly crowded and demanding online space, marketers are working hard to keep up with consumers’ expectations by delivering targeted, relevant ad experiences. Some are succeeding, but others are falling short. And the reason why many marketers haven’t seen good results isn’t due to a lack of effort. There’s a misconception floating around about what a “personalized” ad actually means. Clearing up the confusion is the first step to helping marketers get better results from their ad spends.

Personalization Goes Far Beyond Tailored Ad Creative

When many people hear “personalization,” they immediately think of tailored ad creative. That’s what personalization used to be. 5 to 10 years ago, marketers stressed the importance of personalized campaigns that basically entailed inserting the prospect’s name at the appropriate place in an email. But limiting themselves to that concept of personalization – that it’s exclusively tailored ad creative – keeps marketers from seeing and applying personalization to its fullest potential in their ad campaigns. Personalized creative is just one facet of programmatic’s capabilities to deliver relevant, tailored ad experiences. It’s similar to how real time bidding (or “RTB”) is a subset of programmatic media buying, despite misconceptions that they’re the same thing. Embracing a broader perspective of what “personalization” means is the first step to understanding its capabilities and tapping into its full potential

Tapping into Personalization’s Full Potential

Programmatic offers access to an incredible amount of data. You can leverage that data to deliver highly targeted ads to people most likely to become customers. Personalization isn’t just about tailoring the ad creative. It’s about pulling from hundreds of data points to determine whether to pay for an impression, when to do it, and where to do it. It’s about making better decisions. Here are just a few ways you can use personalization that go far beyond tailored ad creative:

Real Time Bidding

A popular way to use personalization is in conjunction with real time bidding. You can use factors like the current weather, time of day, a user’s geographic location, and many others to determine if you should purchase an impression. Real time bidding allows you to laser target people most likely to convert, making every paid impression more cost effective. You can target specific users whose interest is high within milliseconds.


You can also use personalization to target specific users based on their browsing history. By serving ads to people who have already visited your website or typed in specific search keywords, you capitalize on their intent and turn more of them into buyers. Some experts estimate that retargeting is the single most profitable form of display ads, and it wouldn’t be possible without personalization. Who better to serve an ad to than someone who has already demonstrated an interest in your business?

Stop Advertising at Strategic Times

Knowing when to stop advertising to specific users is critical to make the most of your ad spend. Without personalization, advertisers could serve ads repeatedly to people who have already bought from them. They end up wasting a lot of cash on extra impressions. Personalization tracks users’ activity so you can stop advertising to them when they buy. You can also stop advertising to a user who has already seen your ad (but not bought) after a certain number of times. They aren’t likely to become a customer, so you can stop throwing good money after bad and target another user instead.

Personalized Product Recommendations

You can also use personalization to serve ads recommending specific products based on a user’s browsing history. Consumers appreciate this, as it shows that you care about helping them find products that are valuable to them. You can also use personalization to recommend strategic up-sells to current customers, increasing your average customer value.

Combining Tailored Creative with Other Personalization Capabilities

Programmatic technologies have expanded personalization’s capabilities far beyond simply tailoring ad creative. One of the most profitable approaches is to combine tailored ad creative with one or more of personalization’s other applications. This helps advertisers deliver the right message to the right person at the right time – a recipe for cost-effective, high converting ads. Land Rover applied this combination strategy successfully with a video ad. They tracked their customers’ geographic location and the model of the car they browsed on the Land Rover website. Using a combination of tailored ads and behavioral retargeting, they served users a specific video ad from a library of over 700. The result? Land Rover achieved a 50% increase in brand awareness and 53% increase in purchase intent.

A Better Way to Connect with Consumers Online

Thanks to current ad tech, personalization goes far beyond simply tailoring ad creative. It uses hundreds of data points to tell advertisers when, where, and to whom to serve ads for maximum profitability. Savvy marketers have already hopped on board. Personalized ads lead to better engagement and response because users feel understood. And increased engagement gives marketers access to more data, leading to a better understanding of their customers and more effective personalization going forward.

For the advertisers out whose idea of personalization is still limited to tailored ad creative, the time to broaden their horizons is now.