Running programmatic campaigns for CPG brands has helped us learn a number of lessons on what works best. Here are seven of the most valuable lessons we’ve learned:
Lesson 1: Surround yourself with programmatic heroes. At an Advertising Week panel last year, I heard Linda Boff, executive director of global brand marketing for GE, say that she expects more brands to hire their own programmatic experts to work with their agencies. Those brands will certainly include many CPG companies. In a recent published interview, Mark Kaline of Kimberly-Clark seemed to agree: "Surround yourself with people that can help you,” Kaline urged. Kaline explained that as Kimberly-Clark moved through the evaluation and startup process, internal support was critical.
Lesson 2: Don’t neglect the creative. You can be a programmatic genius, but it won’t do you very much good if you don’t have strong creative. Whether you’re adding coupons to your ad or building brand affinity, you should be thinking of programmatic as a consumer panel. Actually, it’s much better than a traditional consumer panel because programmatic gives you the ability to test creative in real time rather than waiting 90 days before seeing the results of a panel. And because careful testing means better creative, programmatic will often lead to ads that are full of wit and surprise.
Lesson 3: Prime your big campaigns. Before you start pouring your money into a big, seasonal campaign, why not start with some small tests via the open exchanges? An open exchange test helped a beverage company identify specific states where the audience was particularly engaged by one creative. Those insights were then built into the campaign strategy.
Lesson 4: Measurements are your friends. A brand manager can’t move the needle without knowing exactly where the needle is pointing. Ignore useless metrics such as CTR, and focus on the measurements that can make a real difference to your brand. CPG companies, in particular, have had success with pre- and post-programmatic campaign results.
Lesson 5: The path to purchase is no longer linear. Sonja Mathews, vice president of customer strategy & consumer insights at PepsiCo, agrees. “The path to purchase is not a straight line, and neither is it a circle as some have described it. It is more like a pool or a puddle,” she said (as quoted by eMarketer). Beyond efficiency, the major benefit of programmatic is that it lets brands respond to consumers in the same way that they respond to brands: in real time, along a non-linear path.
Lesson 6: Get comfortable with programmatic videos. Online video ads can be very effective for CPG brands -- more often than not, they’re an extension of the brand's preference for TV ads. Programmatically delivered online videos can create a uniquely strong emotional connection between the brand and the customer.
Lesson 7: Let mobile bridge the gap between awareness and purchase. New technologies, such as Apple’s iBeacon, make it possible for CPG brands to connect with consumers on their mobile devices even as they’re shopping in stores. Grocery brands are especially excited about the possibilities of in-store targeting.