In an competitive and fragmented online space, real-time advertising with unique experiences that resonate with users is more important than ever before.
Relevance is a serious concern for a lot of digital marketers, and with good reason. Consumers have come to expect relevant ad messaging. Irrelevant ads get lumped together with the countless others they ignore on a daily basis. Programmatic is making media transactions more time and cost-effective. But it’s also helping marketers where it matters most: delivering timely, useful, and engaging messages to the right people in real-time.
The Issues with Traditional Display Ads
Traditional display ads – where a media buyer negotiates placement on specific online properties – worked well in the infancy of digital advertising. But performance has plummeted over the years, with average click through rates dropping to less than 1%.
A combination of factors is at play. Competition for digital ad space is at an all-time high. New businesses are popping up online every day, and many are willing to pay to increase their exposure. Publishers, looking to take advantage of this hyper competitive environment, have become receptive to serving more ads on their websites. While it was unusual for a website to have more than a few ads 10 or 12 years ago, it isn’t uncommon now to see websites plastered with dozens of ads. Internet users have adapted, becoming increasingly “blind” to the ads splashed across the websites they frequent. Because there are so many ads to sift through – and most of them irrelevant to the user’s needs and interests – it’s easier to ignore them on a subconscious level than engage with them. This proliferation of poorly targeted display ads has created a bitter cocktail of high ad spend, low margins, and minimal engagement.
Using Programmatic to Deliver More Relevant (and Profitable) Ad Experiences
In light of an ever-decreasing ROI on display ads, some marketers have allocated more of their resources to other channels like social and search. Others persist with traditional display ads without ever determining their impact on the bottom line. These marketers could use programmatic to make their display ads more relevant, engaging, and profitable. Programmatic helps you keep a pulse on your audience’s behavior, spot and exploit valuable opportunities, and readjust your strategy on the fly. Just because other marketers are “spraying and praying” with their display ads doesn’t mean you have to. You can use programmatic to deliver more relevant and profitable ad experiences. And you can do this in real-time.
How to Deliver Relevant Ad Experiences in Real-Time
A relevant message gets users’ attention and makes you stand out from your competitors. Here are 5 ways you can achieve real-time relevance:
1. Tailor Your Creative to Fit Each Impression
Traditionally, advertisers exposed audiences to the same messages repeatedly in hopes they would eventually motivate them to act. “Relevance” was imprecise because advertisers didn’t have the technology to determine exactly who their market segments were. Widespread availability of online data has changed the game. There isn’t an excuse not to gain a deep understanding of your target customers anymore. Consumers have come to expect relevant content and ads. They understand that if you aren’t willing to deliver an experience that reflects their unique characteristics and preferences, someone else will. You can leverage programmatic to tailor your creative and better connect with your audience. Instead of going with a single creative, you can modify your creative based on each ad impression. You can tailor your creative based on a user’s geographic location, previous browsing activity, position in the buying cycle, and countless other factors. The only limits are the available data and your information. This lets you speak to each user in a way that replicates a 1:1 conversation, which creates the most relevant experience possible the moment they see your ad.
2. Use Retargeting
According to Bounce Exchange, 70% – 96% of first-time website visitors won’t return. There are just too many other distractions to occupy their attention. Even if visitors are interested in a business, it’s hard to make progress unless they take action right away – while they’re still on the advertiser’s website. Programmatic and real time advertising are changing this. Retargeting lets an advertiser serve ads to people after they’ve visited the advertiser’s website. It’s a way to capitalize on the hard work it takes to get users onto your website in the first place and make the most of more opportunities. Some experts estimate behavioral retargeting has the highest conversion rates of any type of ad display. “It shows intent, which is the most important element for advertisers,” says Asher Delug, founder and CEO of mobile advertising company AirPush. Because programmatic allows you to buy individual ad impressions, you can stay relevant by targeting the people most likely to convert: users who just visited your website.
3. Capitalize on Big Events
Another crucial factor of relevance is timeliness. Certain events that occur throughout the year – holidays, large media events like the Super Bowl or the Oscars, and so on – are excellent opportunities for savvy marketers to get the word out about their business. These events can supplement your regular advertising tactics and give you a massive boost in traffic and attention. Creating ads geared around them shows your audience that you understand them on a deep level. You’re cognizant of what’s occupying their interest at that very moment, and that makes you relevant. Oreo used this tactic during the 2013 Super Bowl with great success. Their tweet about the power outage was retweeted more than 15,000 times. And Yieldbot found that retailers who advertised on Cyber Monday and tailored their messaging to mention the occasion converted over 200% more than ads that didn’t. Things move faster online. Consumers can access ever-changing information at the tips of their fingertips. Programmatic helps you keep up, delivering timely ads that strike while the iron is still hot.
4. Buy Targeted Impressions Instead of Media
Traditionally, direct media buying involves negotiation between a buyer and seller based on a cost per 1,000 impressions (or “CPM”) basis. The parties agree on banner size, placement, and other pertinent details, and the ad runs for the specified duration. Buying media spots is better than building a website and hoping visitors show up, but it’s imprecise. The ads will be relevant for some users who visit the target websites, but they won’t appeal to all of them. The result? Inefficient ad spend. Programmatic shifts the focus from media to individual impressions. You can use data to segment your users and deliver targeted ads designed to appeal to them in ways generic ads can’t. This makes your ads relevant to everyone who sees them, and each impression more likely to result in follow-up activity.
5. Meet Consumer Expectations
Banner blindness – the process of blocking out ads at a subconscious level – is a legitimate concern. But there’s a caveat. Users aren’t totally blind to banner ads. Banner blindness is limited to ads that aren’t relevant to their interests. The more relevant you can make your ads for every user, the higher the likelihood of them seeing and responding to them. Consumers have come to appreciate and expect a customized ad experience. Shoppers respond well to ads that rely on their known product interests and recent activity to recommend up-sells and ancillary products. Users won’t respond to irrelevant ads. They won’t even see them. But you can use programmatic to meet – and exceed – their expectations and give them the customized experience they want. Focus on what’s important to each user right now, and you’ll achieve real-time relevance and improve your response.
Real-Time Relevance Is the Key Moving Forward
The winners in today’s (and tomorrow’s) hyper competitive digital ad environment will do everything in their power to make their ads useful, engaging, and relevant for every impression. A generic, broadcasting approach won’t do anymore. Consumers are demanding something more, a different strategy that uses relevant ad experiences to build relationships on an individual level. Programmatic helps you give that to them in real time.