Programmatic Branding 101: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

By Julian Mossanen, VP, Chango

For years, conventional wisdom said that programmatic marketing was for performance campaigns only. Brand managers who wanted to launch digital campaigns needed to stick with the direct-sales channel. But given the advances in every aspect of programmatic, that’s no longer the case.

What do brand managers need to succeed with digital campaigns? They need highly engaging messages that grab the consumer’s attention, massive scale, and the ability to measure brand impact. Television was long their favored tool since the standard 30-second spot offered ample opportunity for creativity. To saturate a market, their agencies simply sent the 30-second spots to multiple publishers. Measuring impact was a bit harder, but numerous companies will survey consumer sentiment to help with that task.

Enter programmatic branding. Need highly creative ad formats? Marketers can purchase rich-media, video and native advertising at scale programmatically. And over the past few years, we’ve seen marketers launch incredible take-over, interactive video ad, and other rich-media inventions that simply dazzle the consumer. Bottom line: Digital is now on par with TV in terms of creativity.

Scale in programmatic isn’t an issue either. More and more publishers offer premium inventory in the programmatic markets, and exclusive deals, such as those executed in private marketplaces, help brand marketers achieve the scale they need in brand-safe environments.

New standards – e.g. IAB Rising Stars, HTML5 – in ad formats have also relieved the burden of executing rich-media brand campaigns across multiple platforms, markets and regions. Gone are the days when marketers and agencies needed teams of designers to create a unit for each and every publisher.

And as we all know, TV can’t hold a candle to digital when it comes to measurement. Need to know how many people engaged with an ad? Watched a video ad in full? Shared it on Facebook? Most buy-side platforms track those metrics (and more) as standard, out-of-the-box functionality.

But programmatic isn’t just on par with TV, it exceeds it in numerous ways. For instance, marketers can target specific consumers, rather than blast the same message to every household in a particular market. And cross-device tracking leverages message sequencing to tell elaborate brand stories by tracking which consumer has seen and responded to which ads, and present the next part of the story line.

More than that, attribution modeling lets marketers measure which ads, channels, ad formats, devices, days and times of the week that drive the best results, adding significant efficiency to ad spend.

Finally, programmatic marketing offers incredible companion-ad opportunities. Let’s say a consumer clicks on a display ad for a new car model at the office. The marketer can deliver a 30-second companion as to her smart TV later on that evening, along with an interactive ad to her tablet so that she can click to view details, watch of video that features its interior, and even schedule a test drive.

Think of all the stories you’ve read in AdExchanger or DigiDay over the past year. Attribution, cross-device, programmatic TV – they all spell one thing: programmatic branding is an idea whose time has come.