Programmatic - A Marketers Guide: Part One.


To understand the appeal of Programmatic Advertising, there are some simple facts we need to accept:

As Marketers, we like to think we know our customers. We say we understand their concerns, their desires, and what makes them decide to buy. The simple fact is: we can’t.

We’re limited to pigeon-holing our customers into broad groups and making educated guesses.

As Marketers, we can upload, test, adjust and optimise to appeal to the most current buying behaviours, keeping up with the most current trends as soon as they emerge. The simple fact is: we won’t.

The world simply moves too fast.

As Marketers, we would love it if our customers thought about us all the time, but the simple fact is: they don’t.

No explanation necessary (I hope).

What is Programmatic Advertising?


‘Programmatic Advertising’ is buying digital advertising space automatically, with machine-learning using data to decide which ad space to select, how much to pay for it, and when to show ads.

Data is the keyword here. Programmatic thrives on it. Every choice it makes is informed, tested, repeated and (finally) vindicated with big data… Data that is more granular than what most Marketers have access to, and utilised around the clock.

Traditionally, digital advertising is mired in a need to be managed. Constant testing is required, and changes come slowly. The need to test, optimise and repeat is a slow process, as many Marketers know. What Programmatic advertising does is take that need for manual optimisation and testing away, essentially freeing a digital advertising manager to focus their time (and money) on other aspects of the wider strategy.

All it needs is:

  1. Your Average Order Value
  2. Your desired CPA
  3. Your ad Creatives
  4. A set of landing pages with which to test
  5. A tracking pixel embedded on your website

At the most basic level, Programmatic decides where and when to buy ad space by observing historical “signals” given by your customer behaviours over time, then appealing to those established signals with your material, until it can refine itself to a point where your ad space is only bought when it is most profitable. If it isn’t profitable, it tries something else, and keeps trying until it is.

Traditionally, broad Display targeting would give you a million impressions on major news sites, and you’d refine from there over time. Instead, Programmatic takes that million impressions and hits the ground running with targeting based off those established “signals”, optimising all the time.

This means that after a short initial testing period, CPA is dramatically lower than where it began.

Having utilised Programmatic with some of our clients, we’ve seen CPA drop 66% within 6 weeks of testing. Depending on how high your Average Order Value is, this can make for an outstanding ROI, especially when compared with the average ROI of Google Display Network campaigns, which are traditionally more focused on Brand Awareness rather than conversions.

Concerns & Changing our Thinking for Programmatic

The biggest concern advertisers have with Programmatic is that it requires “letting go” – giving up control of your precious budget to “the machines”.

One of the common queries an advertiser might have with Programmatic is where their ads will end up showing. The answer is simply: “Where it will produce the best CPA”, although you are still able to state Exclusions for brand safety.

That “where” might not be where we expect, but if it converts well, then Programmatic will keep bidding on it. Often with Programmatic we’ve seen the best CPA come from ad space that has nothing to do with our niche, but we understand that our customers don’t necessarily have to be thinking of us to be in the mood to buy from us...

You Are Still in Control. Work Still Needs to be Done

Programmatic excels when it has plenty to test, so make sure to “feed” it with a wealth of ad messaging, creative variation (in ads and landing pages), and more ambitious methods of optimising your User Experience. With the knowledge that a wider set of website visitors are more likely to convert, Programmatic presents an opportunity for Digital Marketers to fully grasp Conversion Rate Optimisation.

Want to learn more about Programmatic? See Part Two to continue learning how Big Data makes Programmatic possible.

If you'd like to talk to one of our digital experts about how your brand can start utilising programmtic in your digital strategy then get in touch today via email or give us a call on 01233 667800.

Whatever your business, be it a regional or global brand, the content you produce plays a vital role in your success. You know that… hence you’re reading this.

A well formulated and executed content strategy not only drives more traffic, at the core, it defines what your business is and helps build a strong connection between you and your audiences.

So let's quickly look at why developing a coherent content strategy is important and how setting clear goals and understanding your audience will elevate your online performance. 

What is a Content Strategy?

It's basic right? Content is at the core of how you define the way your business presents itself and an effective strategy should look to ensure that tone of voice, messaging and the core values are surfaced across all channels, from service or product pages on your website, to blog posts, through social media updates blah blah blah.

But let's keep it simple - your content strategy should be a clear roadmap that connects your marketing activities to your business goals. Align to your customer’s wants and needs and engage them at every interaction point and boom, you're in business. 

Who are my Audience?

You likely start all your projects with this chalked on the wall because your business knows “exactly” who its customers are right? Sounds obvious but we often find its not been done forensically enough (not based on data), is too old (more than 12 months ago - forget it) or its a spin off from some brand work that was legitimately aspirational but doesn’t face the reality of who you your business is actually engaging today.

So start (or circle back) with audience research, building out those personas to understand their ambitions, their lifestyle, their pain points or concerns, and crucially their wants and needs - in your context. 

Do I need to tailor content?

As part of your research find out where your audiences spend their time online and how they interact with content: Some may spend time thoroughly researching a product or service, whereas other audiences may want their content to be quick, snappy or easily digestible in the form of a video, infographic or short blog posts.


Ultimately, the key is to produce a strategy that creates the type of content your customers want to see:

  • What are the problems that your product or service will help them solve?

  • Who are they most influenced by?

  • What voices influence their behaviour?

  • What type of content do they consume?

  • Where do they consume content and engage with brands?

Different Content, Different Objectives

 All content is not born equal: When producing your strategy, it is important that the objectives for each individual piece are defined, that these fulfil your marketing objectives and tie to the overarching goals for your business.

There are various content frameworks that exist to aid content development in this way, but one that is popular and effective is Google’s hero, hub and hygiene method: It provides a framework on developing content to achieve different goals and gives guidance on the effort needed to create each type of content.

Hero Content

Hero content is essentially campaign content, it is big splash ideas designed to appeal to a large audience with the aim of telling your brand’s story at scale. 

Ways of measuring hero include the amount of PR mentions or links from authoritative domains plus social interactions and mentions of your brand across all channels. 

Considering the scale of hero campaigns, this content is not regularly produced and is reserved for peak promotional times where it’s important for a business to stand out from their competitors.

Hub Content

Hub content is the stuff that keeps your audience engaged, it expands on the themes of product or service level content, educates users and helps create a connection between themselves and your brand.

Hygiene Content

Hygiene content is the bread and butter of any website, it is the BAU content for products and services, it is SEO focused and targets important keywords at a product, service or guide level.

How do I manage all this?

Content development is only one part of the ongoing work needed when working with an effective content strategy. We call it “feeding the beast” because it really is the fuel in your brand vehicle and once you start you really can’t stop (if it’s delivering results) but that’s where performance measurement comes in.

Your greatest gift in managing the outputs from your hero/hub/hygiene style efforts is to understand If your content is working. To truly deliver results your business must first understand the objectives and goals of each piece of content to effectively measure its success. That as a guiding light from day 1 will let you slow down, speed up, stop or start new content briefs and projects.

Remember - content strategies are not set in stone. They are living breathing things and should adapt and pivot as insights become available and your brand naturally evolves.

If ever you want to chat content and explore new initiatives we’re always here to help.

want to speak to one of our experts?



25 May 2017 - 5 minute read
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