Programmatic & Native Advertising: The Future of Ad Buying

At first, I believed programmatic advertising was going to be really hard to understand, but actually, it’s totally simple. In short, it’s just buying ad space, but taking humans out of the equation. Programmatic advertising is solely done through software and machines, but is the exact same thing as calling up a company and doing it that way. This can’t be done with all types of advertising though, just with digital advertising (which is where most of our advertising is headed anyways). By using this new way to purchase advertising space, it saves a lot of time and money, while improving efficiency. Sitting on the phone with human ad buyers and salespeople has proven to be expensive and even unreliable. Programmatic advertising removes people from the situation, thus making the process much cheaper, improving efficiency, and eliminating any extraneous variables that might make a person not perform their job up to the right standards.

Let me bfea-programmatic-slide1-01-2013reak it down further. Programmatic ad buying is just like buying anything on Amazon or your favorite stores website. It’s strictly done with machines, and only machines. You have a few clicks here and there, and you’re done! No need to deal with people over the phone or in person, making life harder for you. You’re able to get what you want without all the hassle. Now take that, and think of it in the form of buying advertisements! Programmatic gets rid of all the busy paperwork that no one likes in the first place. Originally, buying ads, letting the campaign run, spending money, and then optimizing the campaign took up to a month or longer, and with programmatic, it can all happen in real-time.

So what does programmatic advertising cost? Premium programmatic is commonly sold on a cost per thousand (CPM) basis. Thesforecast-shareofselectdigitaladsalese rates can range from $15 to $25 or even higher depending on the type of advertisement you desire. These premium programmatic advertisements will be shown on homepages. As demand for the use of programmatic advertising increases, so does the price for it. Here is a chart (props to Business Insider!) predicting the share of digital ad sales, showing that non-programmatic sales are decreasing as time goes on. Let me put these percentages into actual dollar amounts so you can see the impact! When RTB (real-time-bidding) is estimated at 33% in 2018, that means $18.2 billion of U.S. ad sales will be towards RTB – up from $3.1 billion in 2013!! This growth is going to be driven by mobile and video advertisements. Companies that are hopping on the programmatic ad bandwagon are reaping the benefits. These businesses include Rubicon Project and AOL.

As with anything new and technological, there are going to be some obstacles necessary to overcome in order to make it the best it can be. First of all, there needs to be a fea-programmatic-slide5-01-2013way to educate advertisers as well as publishers about what this method of buying ad space is, what it does, and where it can take advertising into the future. Another barrier that’s considered a top priority is navigating through a multi-device landscape, being able to go from smartphone, to tablet, to laptop, and back again. According to those that work with programmatic advertising, there just isn’t an easy way to do this – but that’s not to say this can’t be done. There’s also the risk of losing cookies, which are currently essential for advertisers and marketers to help inform them of buying behavior. If these cookies are taken out of the equation, that could pose a problem for agencies and marketers. One more problem with automated placement, is the fact that advertisers don’t want their ads to be shown with content thats low quality or not even relevant, as well as being put next to controversial content. There needs to be a better method of putting ads in the right spaces As for TV ad space buying becoming programmatic…it’s hard to tell what the future holds. Many people are stubbornly against that idea, even though data has shown a 4% increase in programmatic TV ad buying from 2014 to 2015. While that increase may be small, and the total is only in fact 5%, it’s still an increase, which should be given credit!

Next, I’d like to talk about native advertising and what that is. Simply put, native advertising

“is a form of paid media where the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience in which it’s placed.”


The rise of native advertising has advertisers now integrating their ads directly into the content. The key word there is integrating; making sure it flows well and matches the actual content that it’s part of. These ads are supposed to have the same look and feel of an editorial piece, and so far, it seems to be working well for advertisers. Native advertising techniques are still new to the game, and it’ll take a long, long time before they ever surpass any other techniques. Here’s why,

  • Tracking the analytics for native advertising has proven to be very difficult because they haven’t matured enough to be at the same standards advertisers expect from other forms of advertising campaigns.
  • Audience targeting isn’t refined enough for native ads to swoop in and take away the ad spend of current forms of digital advertising.
  • Consumers are becoming more aware of native advertising tactics and don’t want to feel the sense of being tricked into reading pieces that are just trying to sell something.

Native advertising has so much hype and controversy surrounding it, that native ads themselves aren’t gaining the brand awareness, it’s the fact that people are talking so much about the technique of native advertising in general. It has all this publicity, but sort of for the wrong reasons. Measuring the ROI for native ads is hard right now, but as this technique becomes more commonplace, it’ll be easier to gather the data needed to check its performance. As the hype dies down, it will be easier to tell if the return on investment is coming from the ad itself, or if it was only coming from publicity.

As for the future of both programmatic and native advertising, I believe they both will be around, and for the long haul. I think programmatic advertising has a bright future, and it will only be a matter of time before TV gets taken over by it. Many people believe this could never happen, but never say never! I’m sure this isn’t the first advertising method that people were skeptical about at first. With native advertising, I believe it will take a while before it becomes a prominent space in a companies ad spend. The hype of native advertising as a topic needs to calm down dramatically before we can understand if it’s even a useful way to advertise in the first place! As more and more “premium” advertisers migrate their ad spend towards digital, I definitely recommend programmatic advertising. It’s not going anywhere and it’s only becoming more and more popular. Over the next few years I predict lots of tweaking will be done in order to overcome the aforementioned obstacles, and it’ll be hard to find a reason not to spend money with programmatic advertising. As for native, I still recommend it because just like programmatic, it’s not going anywhere; but i also recommend waiting a while for the hype to die down and then evaluate if it’s worth it to invest in.


Google AdWords: make your campaign the best it can be!

adwords-logoOnline advertising is crucial to every business and it’s a great way to show your ads to those people that are likely to be in your target market, and thus potentially be interested in your product or service. It’s also a great way to achieve the basic goal of just increasing your brand awareness. Online advertising doesn’t just have to be done through a computer or laptop, it can work across all platforms that run the internet, including smartphones and tablets. Using Google AdWords can be a useful tool that can help you with all of your online advertising.

The benefits of AdWords include…

  1. Target Your Ads: you want to show your ads to the specific people that will actually care about your product or service, not just the general population. Ways to do this targeting include using the correct keywords, having the right location for your ads, having the right demographics of your target market, showing your ads at the right time of day or day of the week, and showing your ads on the correct devices.
  2. Control Your Costs: Google offers you the flexibility of deciding how much you’d like to spend each month, each day, or for each ad. Theres no minimum, and you can have total control. The only time you pay is when someone actually clicks on your advertisement.
  3. Measure Your Success: Not only can you just see when someone clicks on your ad, you can also track those who make the desired conversion on your landing page. By identifying which ads get lots of clicks and which ones don’t, you can focus on the successful ads and use this to increase your return on investment. You can also use Google Analytics as well to track how long a customer is on your site before they actually make the conversion.
  4. Manage Your Campaign: AdWords offers  you the convenience of being able to manage multiple accounts if you have them. This can help you save time by seeing all of your accounts in one place. Google also offers a downloadable application called AdWords Editor, and through that you can edit your accounts and campaigns offline.

Here’s a clip of what Google AdWords actually looks like!


Google offers 2 different networks for you to display your ad campaign on: the Google Search Network and the Google Display Network. Different campaign types run on either one of these 2 networks. The Google Search Network consists of not just regular Google Search, but also Maps and Shopping and hundreds of other non-Google partner websites that will show an AdWords ad that matches search results. The Search Network is primarily used to help advertisers show their text ads in a Google search results page, and quickly reach their customers that are searching for their specific product or service. The Display Network consists of several Google Sites (Gmail, Blogger, Youtube…) as well as partner sites, mobile sites, and apps that will show an AdWords ad that matches search results. The Display Network is primarily used to help advertisers use appealing ad display formats, build brand awareness and customer loyalty, increase engagement with customers, and specifically choose where ads show, as well as to who.

It’s also important to understand where Google AdWords will show your advertisements. On the Search Network, keywords play a big role in what search results pages your ad will show up on. These ads can be shown as just regular text ads, or as ads with extensions (visual enhancements to search ads). Display Network ads can be shown as text ads, image ads, rich media ads, and video ads. You can also use the Display Network to show your ads on mobile phones, and these can be either text, image, or video as well, just in a different format to accommodate the mobile device. The quality of your ads is also a determining factor in where your ads will appear on the Google search results page. Your quality score is a score based on how relevant your ads are to the keywords you have set up with them, and your ad rank is the actual ranked position of your advertisement. In my last blog post, Paid Search, I go through the process of how it’s determined what you pay, but in short… You can place a bid among other bidders stating how much you’re willing to pay per click. Google will use this, and your quality score to determine where exactly you’re going to be put on the results page. The actual amount you pay is dependent upon what the lowest bid was – you usually never pay your max amount unless you are the lowest bidder or have the lowest quality.

The main and most important reason to use Google AdWords is to manage and run your ad campaign. If I were to ever work in the field of search engine marketing, I’d use Google AdWords to help clients have the most successful campaigns that they possibly could given the resources there are to work with. Clients can choose to either have a Search Network only campaign, Display Network only campaign, or a Search Network with Display Select campaign. Search Network only campaigns have your ads appear throughout the sites that are on the Google Search Network. The clients I’d suggest this method for are the advertisers that want to be able to connect with customers right when they’re searching for their products or services. Display Network only campaigns have your ads appear throughout the Google Display Network. This campaign strategy matches your ads (text, image, video, etc) to websites (like YouTube) and mobile apps that are relevantly related to your content. The clients I’d suggest this campaign method to would be ones that want to increase their brand awareness, especially if they want an image or video accompanying their advertisement. A Search Network with Display Select is probably the best option though, in my opinion. It gives you the best of both campaign options, making sure you hit every mark and increase your chances of being seen by your target audience not only on the Google search results page, but on other relevant websites that are partnered with Google. Managing accounts and different client campaigns is made simple through using My Client Center. This is the place where you can easily keep all of your linked clients campaigns, track performance, manage budgets, and many other activities.

It’s essential to always measure your results for each ad campaign that is run. Understanding the metrics surrounding each campaign will help you decide which ones to continue, which ones to tweak/make better, and which ones to drop entirely. Google Analytics is a great resource to help track how long customers spend on your page before they make a conversion (or if they even do!) By understanding which campaigns of yours have the best and highest conversion rates, you’re able to focus in on those ones while you work to better your other campaigns that might be slacking (use A/B testing!) Always make sure you concentrate on the metrics that are most relevant to your goals whether that be a purchase, a download, donation, etc.

Here’s a great infographic about some cool Google AdWords statistics – showing just how powerful it is for your ad campaigns!

google adwords infographic

Take Out the Guesswork with A/B Testing

Ever wonder what it is about your webpage that could be preventing users from making a sale, or increasing your bounce rate? This is surely a problem that every business owner with a website must face at some point. Now have you ever wondered if there’s a way to fix that problem? With A/B testing, there will never again be a doubt about which style/format/colors/buttons, etc. you should have on your website. A/B testing can help all business owners reach their end goals – to make a profit. This method takes out all of the guesswork, and you can see first hand which version of your webpage will get the best response out of users.

So, what exactly even is A/B testing? Its the best way to determine which versions of your website will produce the best results from your customers. It involves having one version of a webpage (“A”), the “control,” and stacking it up against a second version of that same webpage (“B”), the “variation,” and a specific goal you want to achieve. This way of testing results in hard data and evidence regarding which version of the webpage got you closer to your goal.

Here’s an example of a situation that A/B testing is perfect for. Suppose you determine your main goal to be increasing the number of downloads from your webpage. The “download” button should be then the main focus for your testing. In version A, you would leave the page how it is, and keep it the standard version. In version B, the variation, you might make the button larger, a different color, or different font/size in order to hopefully draw more attention to it. Now, the A/B testing is put in place and website visitors are equally distributed among version A and version B. There will then be measurements of how many people saw each variation, and how many of them actually clicked the download button. When the data collected becomes statistically significant, then you’ll be able to see which webpage is the winner!

The term HiPPO was created by Microsoft and stands for Highest Paid Person’s Opinion. Basically what this means, and what it has to do with A/B testing, is that the opinions of the customer are what’s important – not just the HiPPO’s. For companies to strive, they need to listen to their consumer’s feedback and act/respond accordingly. A/B testing is the exact way to eliminate the HiPPO and see exactly what customers respond to on your webpage instead of following the opinion of whoever is in charge.

Amelia Showalter has had plenty of experience with A/B testing. She and her team worked on the Obama 2012 campaign and did intensive testing on which emails would generate the most donations. To keep it simple, anyone who shared an address with the campaign would the get messages from Barack Obama with subject lines that were tested to trigger donations. Amelia and her team predicted which subject lines would produce the highest amount of donations and what that actual number would be, as well as testing the messages themselves and even the different formatting variations of each email. On some subject lines and emails, there would be up to 18 different variations for testing before the winner would be chosen and the email blasted out! Clearly there were countless tests that had to be run, but in the end it proved to all be worth it. Amelia and her team’s findings were that the uglier the message looked, the more money it would raise in donations! Clearly something they were surprised about. Even the use of mild profanity was a hit for some time.

I believe the biggest take away from the Obama 2012 campaign is that your predictions are probably (more often than not) wrong. It’s so very crucial to listen to the customer and users instead of stubbornly only following your instinct. Amelia herself mentioned in the Businessweek article just how shocked she was that her predictions were always off. She never would have thought that the uglier everything looked, the better response it would get out of the viewers. Without A/B testing, she and her team never would have come to the conclusions that they did.

I found another blog that is A Beginner’s Guide to AB Testing, and explains how you need to make sure you plan correctly for your testing and make sure it matches with the goal you want to achieve through it. There are also A/B Testing Mistakes, such as random testing, that you want to avoid. And here are 5 companies that have successfully applied the A/B testing method, as well as their conversion rate results.

Inbound Marketing: Get With It or Get Lost

Why spend excessive amounts of money on advertising when some money could be saved with a specific strategy? I think anyone who knows what money is is in favor of saving it – and for marketers, inbound marketing is that specific strategy. It’s a tactful method that involves customers coming to YOU – instead of you going out of your way to grab the attention of potential customers. By combining inbound and outbound marketing efforts, a company can “see bottom-line results” according to an e-book written by the company Marketo. This article explains how, when done right, inbound marketing succeeds when traditional marketing efforts fail. Marketing is in the digital era along with the rest of the world, therefore the main focus of inbound marketing centers around creating unique content that is searchable, and will drive potential customers to you! The use of social media is key with this idea, because the more your content is able to be searched and shared via Facebook, Twitter, and other websites, the more publicity your blogs, press releases, videos, etc. will get.

Search Engine Optimization is an extremely important tactic that will help your inbound marketing efforts. You know those first pages and links that show up in your google search? Those companies are using SEO, and it’s working for them. When your content is ranked close to the top in a search, it means you’re using the right keywords that your potential customers are looking for – thus driving them straight to you.

Marketo makes sure to mention how inbound marketing can go wrong:

  • Leads can be in high volume at first but dwindle over time.
  • People might not know you are searchable in the first place
  • People might know you’re a company, but have no idea what it is you do
  • The inbound marketing efforts might just not be enough to break past the leading companies for a specific search

Market also explains how a successful use of the Inbound Marketing Multiplier has 3 components:

  • Change Brand Recognition & Business: the more your content gets found and shared, the more people will recognize your brand and company, therefore they could potentially turn into a future customer!
  • Make Prospects Speak your Language: by integrating a consistent language throughout all of your promotional marketing materials, customers will pick up on this language and use those words to search for your brand
  • Capture your Target Market: this component does exactly what it says! And it’s achievable through both inbound and outbound marketing.

Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, the founders of HubSpot, can also be considered the founders of the term “inbound marketing.” HubSpot was the first company to quickly adapt to the ways of Web 2.0 and was “…considered a thought leader,” stated in the Harvard Business School case titled HubSpot: Inbound Marketing and Web 2.0. In 2011, it became apparent that if a company was resistant to adapting to the new digital ways of the world, they would imminently suffer the consequences. HubSpot and the founders were ahead of the curve and through implementing inbound marketing, they realized there were effective ways to actually pull customers to you, instead of pushing your products and/or services at them.

The HBS case emphasizes that for inbound marketing to be effective, you need to have compelling content. This is probably the most important component. If your material is lacking, no one will care to share it, and your brand and business recognition is going to remain low. Clearly that’s not the objective of any company. Therefore, having creative, unique, and memorable content is going to be what gets your blog etc. passed around through various social media sites, and therefore into the minds of your future customers. Another important component to inbound marketing stated in the HBS case is that your content must be easy to find. If you aren’t searchable, then what’s the point of your inbound marketing efforts? They will all have been for nothing if you can’t even be found. HubSpot is the company that created inbound marketing and since then, other companies have adapted to the new ways of digital marketing.

In an article written by David Klein, titled 5 Companies With Inbound Marketing Strategies That Work, he shares some insight into how 5 different companies have used inbound marketing and their success. The companies he lists include Salesforce, Cisco, Dell, GE, and Starbucks. Each of these 5 companies uses inbound marketing in their own way that works specific to their company, proving this method of marketing has many different functions for a business. It would be near impossible to argue that inbound marketing would not help a company.

So, back to my original question. Why spend all of your advertising money strictly on outbound marketing efforts? The answer is you shouldn’t. Inbound marketing is the digital trend and it would be tough to find a company that decides against this strategy.