Programmatic Storytelling: How Programmatic Is Evolving Traditional Branding
Programmatic doesn't necessarily have to mean direct response. Contributor Dax Hamman explores some trends making this tactic suitable for branding campaigns, as well.
Today’s CMO has become accustomed to approving programmatic marketing budgets. The perfect combination of price, performance, and accountability is very appealing to the CMO.
However, campaigns that fall into the “branding” bucket are still commonly bought at the site level, not the audience level.
There is a groundswell of change, and branding is one of the fastest growing armies in the programmatic march. In part, this comes from better understanding.
Real-Time Doesn’t Equal Trash
Historically, real-time inventory was considered the “trash can inventory” that no one else wanted to buy. It was perceived as cheap and available enough to warrant a direct response campaign.
But when it came to influencing emotions about their companies, CMOs stuck with more immersive experiences that allowed them to grab some of the affinity that the publisher themselves had built.
That is not a mistake if you think of real-time media as a whole. Programmatic is actually the intelligent layer built on top of the “dumb” layer that is raw ad impressions.
Use Programmatic To Your Own Purposes
The “programmatic promise” is where the magic happens. Think of your beloved Lego bricks from childhood. In that big box is a pile of multi-colored plastic blocks, which don’t inspire the imagination. But when you start putting them together you build worlds, people, houses, and even spaceships! Programmatic is like building those bricks into what you want.
Today marketers use real-time media when they buy something like a standard retargeting campaign. Someone visited their site, then they abandoned it, and next they are shown an ad. That’s a lot like just picking out all of your yellow bricks and putting them into a pile.
Programmatic is more complex, obviously. Sticking with the Lego bricks example, the idea that you want to build a spaceship would be your starting point, much like the goals a CMO might have to find a certain audience and bring awareness to their brand.
Just as you would carefully sort through your Lego box looking for straight pieces, short pieces, and those funny little circles that looked like lights, programmatic buying is the same. We take that idea of the goal and we combine data, media, timing, and individuals intent to build a branding program that balances all the needs to produce your original (spaceship) goal.
Better Media Choices Are Now Available
In part, this new wave is supported by the accessibility of better media for programmatic campaigns. Display banners, video, Facebook, Twitter and “native” formats have all turned themselves into Lego bricks.
The tools to monitor quality have also improved, with fraud being actively tackled and viewability measurement becoming more realistic. Even something similar to premium buys is possible with programmatic thanks to PMPs (Private Marketplaces) and premium exchanges.
There is however a final sticking point CMOs must overcome, which is accountability. We are accustomed to measuring digital with conversions and clicks, which aren’t metrics that translate easily to the branding world where influence, unaided recall, and gross rating points (GRPs) reign supreme.
To take advantage of the cost savings, and the benefit of easily finding new audiences, we must make some compromises.
A Video Example
As an example, at my company recently ran 10 video campaigns for major brands across a number of industries. We used the same creative as their premium video branding campaigns and had the same audience to reach.
By using data, and balancing that with price and placement, we drove average completed views that were 3x that of their old campaigns. The reason is simple; those CMOs were smart and leveraged the data to find the right people.
In other cases, marketers are using programmatic to have their audience do the influencing for them. They use Programmatic as their mechanism to find the right people through Facebook and Twitter and serve them relevant content that those influencers want to share. Often supplementing those campaigns with high-frequency banner and video programs to make sure their message sticks.
As a CMO, should you be buying real-time media to build your brand? No. But you should be using the capability that real-time media brings to target single individuals. Then use the power that programmatic offers to turn your “marketing imagination” into amazing results.