Consider that a travel company is about to launch a new campaign. The campaign objectives are two-fold: acquire new customers and upgrade/sell add-ons to existing customers.

The traditional way to plan media was to hand over the entire task to a media agency with connections into a whole host of publishers, draw up a media plan, buy space in media properties and eventually agree a certain number of placements.

Source: Thomas Cook

All of this work would involve innumerable meetings, calls, emails and spreadsheets, and not least of all – lots and lots of time for the marketer involved. When the campaign goes on air, adverts are shown to audiences based on old-school methods of demographics, psychographics and data that is potentially outdated.

The alternative

Contrast this with another scenario: the travel agency has connected its internal customer data with data from a few external partners that contain most of the data properties they want to market on.

Using customer data to recognise the customers, they are now marketing to just the prospects that are the right customers and likely to convert. They also know that many of their customers tend to take a trip every year, at the same time of the year.

In this instance, they’ve married up their customer information to the ad exchange to programmatically buy adverts that show up for their customers at just the right time. To acquire new customers, they’ve connected to the leading data provider that models “look-a-like audiences” based on an analysis of your existing customer profiles.

For the new prospects who visited their website twice but left without buying anything, they also set up rules that buy adverts to market to these prospects on a different device such as a mobile, as the travel agency know that they’re most likely to buy on-the-go.

This approach ticks a number of boxes – it’s real-time, scalable, operationally efficient, cost-effective and omnichannel. Almost a year ago, Thomas Cook did almost exactly this.

Source: Thomas Cook

Programmatic made possible

Advertising – at least on the Internet – is no longer dependent on media as a proxy for audience, but can be bought and sold at an impression level basis, i.e. an individual. But this is old news. What is new is that the effectiveness of internet advertising is at a tipping point.

Programmatic advertising initially drew attention due to the inherent efficiencies in bringing down the administration time, effort and consequently cost in buying and placing an advert on the internet and also in buying remnant inventory at cheap prices.

Today, programmatic can help you understand more about the person likely viewing your advert before you buy the advertising space.

Advertisers can now identify the same customer across devices and browsers, understand where the customer is in their purchase journey, get a sense of the context of the content that the customer is viewing and dynamically tweak the creative content of the advert – all in real-time. This is the real deal!

For an advertiser, the key ingredient is your own data about prospects and customers and the ability to use it to improve the effectiveness of your advertising.

While programmatic technologies are still evolving, it is important to get started now to become familiar with the landscape, identify gaps in your own capabilities and clarify the opportunities for you.