Programmatic Advertising - Small Business | East Shores Agency

Is it worth it for a small business?

As technology, specifically big data, becomes more engrained in various industries, the more marketers (and others) will have truly analyze the practicality of such tools have on our competitive landscape and beyond. We believe that it is always critical to investigate the implications within our industries and beyond; see how other benchmarks are implementing and using these technologies. Which is why we decided to look into programmatic advertising and what it means to a small business.


For those of you who do not know what programmatic advertising is one of the latest revolutions to hit the traditional form of advertising. Allowing advertisers almost light-speed insertions online to highly targeted audience. As Digiday, eloquently explains programmatic ad buying,

“Efficiency. Before programmatic ad buying, digital ads were bought and sold by human ad buyers and salespeople, who can be expensive and unreliable. Programmatic advertising technology promises to make the ad buying system more efficient, and therefore cheaper, by removing humans from the process wherever possible. Humans get sick, need to sleep and come to work hungover. Machines do not.”

While, in theory cutting out the middle-man and placing ads more efficiently (both in time and in money), there are often costs that can arise if planned and implemented poorly. In a recent Ad Age article reports on disconnect between the cost of the ad inventory and the cost of ad optimization, “Five full-time employees are needed to spend a $100 million national broadcast budget, one media agency executive said, while the same number would be needed for a $5 million programmatic buy”. They go on to explain the, “trail of fees…” associated with programmatic ad buys. Other issues, that the Harvard Business Review details: is bot views, non-viewable/not-fully loaded ads, missed target audiences, and inappropriate ad placements (i.e. Havas Group vs. Google).

Now that we have completely frightened you, we are actually not trying to regress to traditional advertising because: one, it is an impossible tide to turn and two, we are genuinely excited about these new technologies that will only get better as they get fine-tuned. From highly specific targeting, quick ad serving, remarketing and mobile targeting, there are a lot of reasons why your business should consider programmatic advertising.

Here’s what we recommend for small businesses:

1.      Focus on your social media channels, smaller scale digital buys and analytic platforms. What we have realized is that there are many similarities, conceptually, between social media advertising and programmatic advertising. That is, the ability to targeted highly customized audiences as well as pair it with rich insights on behavioral usage across your platforms and websites. Programmatic, however, is highly automated and far quicker. Furthermore, social media channels are less reliant on cookies to follow users as they browse the internet because the often require a login. This recognizes actual users across multiple devices with a far greater accuracy than across webpages with cookies.

2.      Set SMART goals. Make sure you do everything with intent. There is only so many hours in the day, so why waste yours with haphazard motions. Ask yourself, what do you hope to achieve with this. More importantly ask yourself, do I have enough time to do this in-house or will I outsource this? This is a very important question because it does require substantial time to learn and monitor. However, if you do go this in-house route: test, limit your budget, understand your target audience, and evaluate your demand-side supplier (Digital Marketing Magazine). Be prepared to spend some money as well as time, results do not always happen over time. Then take the time to truly dissect the results. Harvard Business Review recommends pairing cost per impression (CPM) and performance metrics simultaneously to fully paint a picture of effectiveness.

3.      If you decide to higher an agency, make sure you get total transparency and optimized communication between ad buying bodies and developers (Ad Age). Many of these agencies require a minimum spend of $5,000 per month as well.

We fully recommend checking out the links in this article. They are very insightful and help paint an honest view of programmatic advertising. As always, we greatly value your opinion. What do you think of programmatic advertising? Where do you see it going?