Commentary

The Benefits Of Auomated Buying

There are a baffling array of tactics when it comes to purchasing media programmatically: private marketplace (PMP) deals, which are growing more popular as a bit of a hedge against ad fraud, programmatic guaranteed, open exchanges, and more.

So how do publishers and marketers decide which model to use? Does it depend on their business objectives and target audiences? Does it depend on the type of campaign, i.e., whether it’s a customer acquisition effort or retention, new product launch or brand awareness effort? All of the above?

Writing on Marketing Land, Grace Kaye, a programmatic display specialist at Brainlabs Digital, argues that if  stakeholders want control, they should stick with legacy buying methods. But if they want to save time and money, they should run display campaigns by using a programmatic platform. Kaye maintains that automated buying methods deploy  budget more efficiently as they use optimization and offer real-time data that offer critical analytics and insights.

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It’s true that automated buying offers these benefits, and Kaye offers a very helpful  deep-dive into "how-tos." In programmatic buying, for example, instead of going directly to the publisher to book and buy ad inventory, you buy media through a demand-side platform (DSP). There are many DSPs. Probably too many. One of the biggest is Google’s DoubleClick Bid Manager.

Using a DSP, you can set the parameters on the inventory you want to purchase, and when an ad space becomes available that meets your criteria, you enter an auction. The highest bidder serves the ad. If only if were that simple! All of the actions occur in real time on an impression-by-impression basis while a Web page is loading.

The main difference between real-time buying and booking ad impressions in advance is that the real-time buyer has complete control over the ad buying process and can optimize the campaign as needed, in real time. So if a targeting parameter isn’t delivering results, you can change it.

But Kaye says that reserving ad space the old-fashioned way offers a different type of control. For example, you can guarantee a certain number of eyeballs will see your ads and that your ad will always appear on a specific Web page for a certain length of time.

There are differences in costs between automated and publisher-direct buying. Buying programmatically means display advertising is bought using an auction, so the cost is always at market price. This free-market approach typically means ad space is less expensive than with other methods.

By contrast, buying ad space via a publisher may wind up costing more in time and money as there is negotiation over price. And there are personal relationships at stake.

Kaye quite rightly argues that one disadvantage to programmatic buying is that you must be very flexible because you won’t get a confirmed number of impressions for a confirmed price. She goes on to take up the topics of targeting and inventory availability which are also big considerations.

There are real benefits to automated buying. The ability to change things up in real-time in order to achieve a better result, and to get advanced analytics and reporting on campaigns alone, are worth the effort. For marketers that aren’t using programmatic methods, those two advantages should persuade them to try.

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