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Conquering Digital Branding: The Programmatic Direct Route

Measuring return on investment (ROI) for brand campaigns online was questionable in the early days of programmatic, compounded by issues of inventory quality and transparency. Today, with the emergence of programmatic direct, brand marketing is feeling more at home online than ever before. Programmatic direct experienced 848.4% growth in the US alone last year. This new programmatic method provides brands with rich ad environments, more transparency and deeper customer insights through automatic media buys with publishers directly. Advertisers have bought into hyper-targeted consumer mind-sets, guaranteed buys and premium environments to increase the overall relevance of their messaging.

Programmatic direct allows access to specific inventory and data that is not always available through a typical programmatic open-market. It is a powerful tool for advertisers looking to step into the world of automation and who are willing to use this method of ad buying to ensure enhanced marketing ROI on many fronts; whether that’s for smarter audience targeting, real-time marketing insights, or increasing customized optimization. Some people may ask “this must cost more than open-market programmatic trading, right?” Not at all. With accurate campaign setup, it is just another string on your bow, integrated into the rest of your digital channels. Programmatic direct strengthens your digital arsenal, with more in-depth analytics by leveraging actionable consumer insights.

But what are the best ways to leverage direct buys? Here are some points to consider for digital brand campaigns.

Digital brand advertising creates accountable ROI 

Programmatic direct isn’t for everyone, especially performance-based campaigns, that can benefit more from using an open-market approach, where direct response and cost efficiencies are king. But digital brand campaigns through private market places (PMPs) allow for greater measurement compared to TV, radio and print media as publishers release additional data points and inventory to programmatic direct buys. Softer metrics such as engagement rates, unique reach, frequency and social measurement are effective for quantifying brand engagement. For longer term quarterly or yearly metrics, analyzing market share growth, sales, brand awareness and uplift in foot-fall or site traffic are other key brand measurements.

Attribution – the process of applying and assessing value to different marketing touch points – is more successful when using common data sets. It is common sense that when using programmatic media for one channel, it helps to have programmatic as the common denominator across all other digital channels, i.e. social, mobile, video and desktop, among others. A great way to establish continuity in a fragmented landscape is by using one digital partner who operates a multi-stack model. This will deliver and analyze insights across all campaigns – direct or open – and will ensure that you get the most audience reach in market, across all channels.

The modern marketer: using a scientific approach

CRM is key for connecting the dots and understanding the missed opportunities with your customers online. Some large travel brands are already trailblazing this movement, their aim being to use data gleaned from programmatic campaigns to plug into their CRM and inform their marketing strategy. We call this “closing the gap” of the customer realm to maximize brand reach. For marketers with more than one target audience, this is the gold dust of programmatic. With direct buys you can streamline multiple messages to the appropriate audiences and ensure improved relevance, reduced data waste and enriched targeting. This process helps to find and analyze audiences through various tactics, including lookalike modelling based on successful consumer interactions with your brand.

You can be rest assured that the programmatic direct route is not another technology dragon to slay, but instead a firm stride down the programmatic path in arming brands to embed themselves online. As more publishers open premium inventory up to programmatic direct buys, customer insights will become increasingly powerful. Marketers are realizing that this method enhances their branding campaigns, allowing even more in-depth reporting on consumer behavior and delivers measurable ROI.