You may have heard about "programmatic" in terms of advertising media buying. Now 72% of U.S. online and mobile display spending is programmatic and it's moving into other media such as online video, TV, radio and even digital outdoor. As such, it should be no surprise that programmatic elements have also been incorporated into social media platforms, with all the major social platforms now offering programmatic options. In fact, MediaPost reports that social advertising is the fastest growing programmatic channel ahead of display and mobile.
So what is programmatic exactly? IAB defines programmatic as automated buying and selling of media being sold by "one machine talking to another machine." Marking Land explains it as automating the decision process of media buying by targeting specific audiences and demographics. Programmatic ads are placed with artificial intelligence (AI) and real-time bidding (RTB) for online display, mobile display, online video, social media advertising, and is expanding to digital outdoor, radio and TV.
Monica Lay of Adobe Social Advertising Solutions further clarifies that programmatic advertising has two distinct methods:
- Real Time Bidding (RTB): Auction-based ad transactions based on real-time impressions in open and private marketplaces.
- Programmatic Direct: Ads purchased via a publisher-owned application program interface (API) like Facebook and Twitter or an existing demand-side platform (DSP) like DoubleClick Ad Exchange or MediaMath.
What difference can programmatic make? More precise targeting and more efficient spending. Dean Jayson in The Huffington Post explains that programmatic media buying can use online data (like browsing activity) and offline data (like loyalty card data) to target the placement of ads. Data brokers match offline data with online data and license data management platforms (DMP) to organize the data and use demand side platforms (DSP) to automate the execution of media buys.
This targeting based on data profile is different than targeting based on content. Jayson gives the example of a dog food brand buying ads on a cute puppy site. Many visitors just like looking at cute puppies, but may not have a dog to feed The marketer pays for impressions to the wrong target and the consumer sees an ad that's irrelevant. Programmatic is more precise by targeting consumers with a history of purchasing dog food (online or in-store).
Programmatic also saves time. Marketers set their target audience and forget it. The DSP finds the audience freeing up marketers' time to focus on creating valuable and relevant content. Jayson says that programmatic data based targeting costs roughly half of content based targeting.
Programmatic brings these same benefits to social media channels. Ben Plomion, CMO of GumGum recommends programmatic in social because he says "to compete in today's hyper-competitive online media world, you can't sit back and wait for the traffic to come to you." Marketers run more effective campaigns through automated buying and by reaching a precise audience with highly relevant messages. Plomion gives the example of Red Bull targeting videos to Twitter feeds of people who have viewed extreme sports sites.
Yet programmatic isn't limited to buying ads and promoted posts on social media networks. Programmatic native advertising enables brands to place sponsored articles and videos directly through publishers like BuzzFeed, The New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Additionally a recent survey indicates native programmatic budgets are going to programmatic native platforms like Outbrain, Taboola, Sharethrough, Nativo and Bidtellect that place sponsored content across the web. These platforms boost brand content serving up links to sponsored articles with messages below publisher content saying, "you may also be interested in..."
Still programmatic social goes even further. Beyond social network ads and paid content marketing, influencer marketing offers programmatic ad buying. Adweek reports that ROI Influencer Media (representing 10,0000 influencers from celebrities to social media all stars) has partnered with programmatic platforms like Rubicon Project, PubMatic, OpenX, MediaMath and Google's DoubleClick Ad Exchange. When buying programmatic ad packages, bundles of influencers appear as options where marketers pay for viewable impressions on influencers' social media sites and walls. Authenticity is preserved through influencers still having final approval and control over their feeds.
Startups like Fanbytes are offering a programmatic Snapchat influencer marketing platform. Their dashboard enables marketers to bid on influencer ads programmatically, in real-time, and buy influencers' branded content on their social media pages, blog pages, and websites.
Not all influencers have to be mega celebrities. The startup Gnack offers programmatic buying of user-generated content from Snapchat and Instagram influencers with less than 10,000 followers. These "micro influencers" can be very effective at reaching niche audiences based on campaign objectives, target demographics and preferred hashtags.
With increased content clutter and declining organic reach, attracting an audience in social media can be problematic. But programmatic can be an attractive way to boost reach and relevancy. How can programmatic improve your social media efforts?