Commentary

Mapping The Right Programmatic KPIs To Your Goals

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, December 9, 2016
Success in programmatic advertising is relative. You might acquire a customer by finding her on digital channels via your demand-side platform, but you’ve failed if the cost exceeds the value of that customer. Success depends largely on how marketers define goals and set key performance indicators (KPIs), as well as their ability to adjust campaigns in real time.

Programmatic plans require fluid budgets and adaptability. Control freaks may be tempted to pre-plan every tactic of their campaigns, but it’s better to start broad, have a thesis on what could work, observe performance, and optimize your campaign based on that data.

Of course, you should still channel your inner control freak. At the outset of campaigns, ask for authority from your boss or client to execute changes. You’ll need to move fast when adjusting frequencies, turning off tactics, swapping out third-party data segments, etc.

Here’s how to set KPIs based on the kind of programmatic campaign you run:

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1. Audience: Audience campaigns are great for focused branding or awareness campaigns. You’ll have to pay more for impressions on brand-name sites, plus data fees if you want finer targeting (which would continue to add up as you scale). So mix in a number of tactics (e.g., contextual, mobile, hyperlocal) to drive a lower CPC or CPA KPI when you’re running audience campaigns for brand awareness.

2. Contextual: Contextual campaigns are effective when determining which channels perform best. When targeting football fans, for instance, you can test general sports networks or news segments. Just be mindful of brand safety. Don’t advertise on sites that cover football scandals where negative brand connotations could arise. Contextual is best when your KPIs are eCPC, eCPM, conversions, and CTR.

3. PMP vs. Web site: Private marketplaces take a one-to-few approach in programmatic buying. You deal with one publisher, which has arranged a pre-set group of sites that a marketer can serve ads on through one ad buy. These sites are either owned and operated by said publisher or are closely partnered. Marketers must submit bids for the inventory, but they gain more control because they can negotiate a variety of aspects related to the placements and inventory. This could bump up the CPM range compared to what a marketer can get in open exchanges, but the efforts can be more productive for advertisers that want assurances in brand safety and audience/inventory quality.

4. Video: Expect to bid more for high-demand video spots than other types of inventory. Keep video ads under 30 seconds (maybe even less on mobile). Follow the movie industry’s lead, making short, creative videos. Your goal is to get viewers to watch to completion; emphasize that over other metrics.

5. Mobile: There are several types of mobile campaigns: hyperlocal targeting, first-party audience, and location-based advertising. Geo-targeting works well when you want low eCPCs or eCPMs. This would target ad inventory in smartphone and tablet apps using GPS.

For example, you can target football fans who are in or near stadiums on game days. The first-party strategy allows you to create new segments through audience capture or upload existing device IDs to retarget in apps. Maximize your reach by targeting inventory in both mobile websites and apps.

6. Site retargeting: Site retargeting is suitable for every KPI. Make it your go-to tactic for re-engaging users. Because you’re dealing with a smaller audience, you’d typically bid high to win because they’re known audience members who are further down the purchase funnel. Use unique messages in these ads — viewers are already familiar with the brand and have likely seen different versions of your creative. A nudge may convert them.

If you have clearly outlined KPIs and know how to leverage the performance data to optimize campaigns, you’re ready for the brave new programmatic world of advertising.

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