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Six programmatic advertising best practices for marketers

  • 4 min read

Programmatic advertising has come a long way.

Yet while brands were happy to use agency resources to manage programmatic in the early days; as programmatic investment has grown, scrutiny has increased over budget and investment.

Brands are increasingly looking for greater transparency in programmatic, to find efficiencies and improve ROI. For some, this means reviewing agency partners to find the best balance. For others it means moving programmatic in-house.

Either way, programmatic continues to go from strength to strength as the go-to means of audience buying. But for marketers to see success from it, they will need to overcome a number of challenges:


6 Programmatic Challenges Marketers Must Address


Challenge 1: Fraud

As personal relationships in buying and selling are reduced and more intermediaries are added – visibility and accountability can be poor. But while ad fraud is a commonly expected (even accepted) challenge for marketers, the implicit costs are staggering, with some sources estimating up to £7bn in wasted ad spend! Not good news for brands looking for greater efficiencies in programmatic.

Yet with programmatic fraud in particular, it’s often marketers themselves driving the issue. With the move to programmatic, focus has dropped from metrics such as conversion and response, in favour of metrics that are easier for fraudsters to produce (ie, simple impressions). And, with marketers willing to ‘expect a level of fraud’, ad networks often aren’t doing enough to detect and prevent fraudulent impressions.

If marketers are to see real results and improvements in programmatic efficiency, they need to challenge their partners to minimise fraud, look for metrics that offer better insights, and look for data that gives a clear picture of whether ads are actually being seen and how realistic click data is.


Challenge 2: Viewability

Even if impressions aren’t fraudulent, they can still be misleading, since many of the impressions bought (programmatic or otherwise) are simply never actually seen by the intended recipient. Just because an ad appears within an article, does not – and should not – mean that the ad has been viewed. The same goes for ad sites that contribute no purpose or value beyond hosting and displaying ads.

Marketers need to find a way to make viewability an accurate reflection of the return on their investment.


Challenge 3: Price & Safety

Some networks are guilty of mixing lower quality content together with prime media, in the cynical hope that advertisers wouldn’t notice or care if their ads appeared in less-than-ideal situations. Equally, platforms that rely on user-generated content (social sites such as Facebook and YouTube) have struggled with content that is far from advertiser-friendly, presenting a substantial risk to brand safety. While most platforms and networks are now resolving these issues, brands should continue to demand transparency from their partners.

Regarding price challenges; technologies such as header bidding are having a positive impact on the market. And, as publishers’ gain experience they are able to expose more inventory and deploy more profitable programmatic operations. However, the market as a whole isn’t entirely stable; issues such as fraud, measurement, inventory fluctuations and more can cause pricing to be unpredictable, especially niche or very targeted impressions.


Challenge 4: Targeting

Sophisticated targeting is of course a priority (and major challenge) for many brands. And while platforms such as Facebook and Google offer demographic targeting data; for real-time success, brands must be able to match their datasets to actual users generating impressions, then display the right, personalised creative at the right time.

Identity resolution and targeting are challenging – success requires significant investment in integration and focus on data compliance.


Challenge 5: Systems and Data Integration

Systems integration is not easy, but achieving a successful link between critical systems is crucial for true transparency, reporting and scalability.

To see future success with programmatic and to make best use of resources, it’s imperative that brands seek to integrate systems and build unified, intelligent processes that reduce manual processes.


Challenge 6: Agencies

While some brands are moving in-house, away from agency programmatic management in search of greater transparency, others have found agency partners to be incredibly responsive to the ‘do i need an agency?’ challenge. Today, agencies recognise that if they want to handle a significant portion of a brand’s ad spend, they have to evolve and offer the conversant, clear service that’s expected.

While knowing whether to work with an agency can be a challenge for some brands, agencies can offer multiple benefits; skills, experience, people and technology, plus operational or consultative support for brands who want to build out their own programmatic capabilities.


Solving the Challenges

To see success with programmatic, addressing these challenges is imperative. But, by working to deploy the right technology, with the right partners, and by developing the right skills, marketers can improve efficiencies and achieve clarity and effectiveness in programmatic.

Find out more about how brands can see success with programmatic, in our eBook: