Programmatic buying is arguably one of the biggest developments in the digital advertising space. Naturally, it’s drawing plenty of discussion in the advertising community around its perceived benefits to brands and agencies. Yet, despite being the Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) marketing word of the year in 2014, more than half of marketers still don’t understand programmatic well enough to implement it.

This means that many brands and agencies are missing out on the key benefits programmatic can bring, including improved analytics, easier data management, higher ROI, better targeting and reduced waste.

Whether you’re a media planner in your twenties or a seasoned executive with decades of experience, understanding the latest advancements in ad tech is vital to your business. Here are five essential tips to help you get the most from programmatic video advertising:

1. Find the right demand-side platform (DSP)

A demand side platform (DSP) is software used by agencies and advertisers to buy video advertising in an automated fashion. When choosing a video DSP, look for a partner that provides access to the largest sources of cross-device video inventory, including web, mobile web, mobile app publishers, and both linear and connected TV.

Here is a checklist of important functions your DSP should enable. It should allow you to:

  1. Buy ads on the single-impression level, paying only what each impression is worth.
  2. Leverage first and third-party data across your entire investment, making it easier to find and engage your desired audiences wherever they are.
  3. Gain better visibility across your entire investment, with clear insight into audience, ad performance and spend, so you can be agile and make adjustments to your KPIs as needed.
  4. Verify your audience with an unbiased, MRC-accredited third-party provider to give you confidence that you’ve reached the right audience. Your referee should not also be ‘playing the game,’ so be sure your third-party provider isn’t involved in buying or selling media.
  5. Control ad exposure, using global frequency caps to determine exactly how often your audiences see individual or several ads in one campaign – even across multiple publishers.

2. Assemble a smart video team

The people running your programmatic video buys are just as important as the technology itself. Managing these campaigns may require new skills and vocabulary, as well as a data-driven mindset not typical in traditional media buying. The team should have the freedom to creatively experiment with new ways to connect with consumers, and have the flexibility to explore new products and vendors.

3. Organise your team effectively

Whether one person fulfils multiple responsibilities, or you have several people dedicated to each one, you’ll need someone to take ownership of each of the following areas:

Campaign management: This is the most important part of your programmatic buying. Responsible for strategy and optimisation, your campaign manager executes buys and maximises the impact of the investment. It’s also a good idea to hire a dedicated strategist who can learn the nuances of your campaign’s performance and improve them over time.

Traffic Operations: The owner of this role ensures that video ads are coded correctly, that they play across all screens in all types of environments, and that the tags fire correctly.

Research and Analytics: This function requires a high-level view of all programmatic performance to determine which areas are performing, where there’s room for improvement, and how this might affect other parts of your advertising strategy. Researchers and analysts provide a holistic picture of your brand marketing efforts by creating buying models and applying learnings to the rest of your brand.

Creative: Typically dedicated to a team (rather than a single individual), this function is focused on designing your video ads and should work closely with the optimisation strategy, research/analytics and traffic functions to ensure alignment.

4. Research the best tech partner

Ultimately, you need a vendor with the best technology and the strongest support. Your technology partner, often your DSP provider, should work to educate your team on best practices and industry standards, connect you with other vendors, and provide a level of service that fits your programmatic needs. They should provide best-in-class service, regardless of the level of support you need.

If you want self-serve (or “hands on keyboard”) buying access, look for a partner with a highly intuitive interface, a thorough onboarding and training process, and a commitment to your success.

If you prefer a fully managed service, your partner should work closely with you to plan, execute, manage and optimise digital video campaigns. They should offer a full suite of custom research offerings and creative services, plus carry a strong reputation for great customer support.

5. Formulate a solid execution plan

The following steps are key to a successful programmatic strategy:

  • Define your Key Performance Indicators (or KPIs). Specify the audience engagement and brand lift you’re looking for.
  • Establish success. Set goals for each KPI and define the metrics you’ll need to hit.
  • Set campaign criteria. Define target audience (chosen demographic), preferred sites and/or apps (desktop, mobile, tablet, content, traffic type and volume), pricing, campaign length, and ‘frequency capping’ (how many times each consumer will be shown an ad).
  • Continually monitor and adjust your goals, so you can test and optimise your audience segments, when your ads run, how often they run, and how your content and creative impact performance.
  • Assess how your campaign measured up against your goals.

Programmatic video advertising is complex, but the more you to do educate yourself, the more powerful your implementation will be. If you’ve gotten this far, you’re already taken the first step.

Guy Yalif

Guy Yalif


Guy Yalif is VP of Global Marketing at BrightRoll.