Programmatic: Forget Everything You’ve Learned About the GDN

As a display marketer, one of the most common questions I’ve received from clients and colleagues has been a request to differentiate programmatic display from the Google display network. I want to start this rant by saying the Google display network is certainly a viable marketing tool, but let’s dispel the notion that Google’s conversion optimizer even compares to programmatic marketing. A programmatic offering, in the true sense of the word (see this video for a detailed definition of programmatic), goes beyond serving up banners and using RTB in an exchange setting. Comparing the two is like comparing apples to an automated apple, orange and banana producing factory that’s solar powered.


High Impact Units

One common misnomer is that programmatic is just another iteration of display advertising. While display banner advertising does make up a large part of programmatic advertising, in large part due to scalability and supply, there are other ad units that can provide performance and strong branding in the digital realm. Take, for instance, native advertising through a partner like TripleLift. They’re premium auto-cropping ad unit that can be bought programmatically. They’re typically a little less invasive than a traditional banner, perform well in direct response campaigns and have the look and feel of a premium branding unit (see below).
Triple Lift
Taking the conversation about units a step further, what’s available to programmatic advertisers goes beyond just visual media. Programmatic audio is another compelling form of advertisement that has caught steam in the digital realm. Advertising through video is also another viable option. The point is that all of these unique ad units can be evaluated both quantitatively and qualitatively by reducing fragmentation and consolidating your media buying. That is the promise of programmatic advertising.


Unique Targeting Options

There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of point solutions that provide unique targeting options for your program. The dream is to use your consolidated buying to overlay unique targeting over your performance display campaigns. From geo-targeting specialists to cross-device partners and lookalike modelers, the sky is the limit for unique targeting.
As the industry gets increasingly more sophisticated, these partners are starting to move toward two different directions. Partners like Tapad or PushSpring create strategic partnerships with buying platforms to become integrated and trusted partners. On the other hand, platforms like Facebook are taking a “walled garden” or closed ecosystem approach and pushing data usage and analysis within the confines of their own platform. Regardless of what approach appeals to the buyer the most, the vision remains the same: create continuity across a fragmented ecosystem.


Data, Data and More Data

Let’s be frank for a moment. If you have a budget of $50,000, any competent, or incompetent, display marketer could spend that budget in a day. The promise of programmatic marketing is immense scalability, and the Internet and all of its available targeting cookies are a black hole. Knowing this, it becomes increasingly more important, not only to harness your own data, but to find ways to extend it and maximize its impact.
In 2016 I predict that finding quality targeting data will become the most important issue for display marketing which really begs the question: what are you doing with your own quality data. Activating it on the Google Display network just isn’t a meaningful investment in the grand scheme of data monetization. Building, indexing and categorizing your site data should be a priority for any organization whether you’re interested in activating it for targeting or not. Organizing your data helps in the benchmarking process and evaluating the viability products/categories overtime. Again, it’s not just about serving banner ads, it’s about creating a program. So that really begs the question, are you building a program, or are you building silos?

Sherveen Shingu About the author
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