In a recent post, we explored the fundamental 5 steps to executing a holistic full-funnel strategy and the importance of creating a seamless consumer journey to reach your business goals. Now it’s time to explore how agencies can leverage the many benefits of programmatic advertising in their cross-channel marketing strategy. The best approach to digital marketing is to cater to the unique needs of the target audience—personalization is key. According to a Harris Poll survey, 63% of North American consumers expect brands to take a personalized marketing outreach approach. However, as many performance media agencies shift gears to try and meet those demands, 43% of marketers admit they are struggling to do so.
While data and programmatic solutions provide advertisers access to behavioural and contextual insights about their audiences, we know that as consumers, we do not have a linear journey. By understanding who, how and where your audience is, you will have better control connecting with the right people, at the right time, with the right message. The key to reaching your ideal audience is to determine where they are within the funnel and where in the digital space they are spending most of their time. Having a well-defined and established goal for your advertising endeavours can help you leverage the strengths of each digital channel to magnify your marketing efforts and align it with your audience’s behaviour and intent.
Let’s start exploring how programmatic awareness, engagement and conversion campaigns can be leveraged, and how they can complement channels outside programmatic, such as search and social, to achieve a seamless consumer journey.
Think Big with Awareness Campaigns
Programmatic advertising is optimal when it comes to helping marketers achieve their awareness goals because it allows them to reach a vast amount of people across the internet. Introducing prospects to your funnel will help increase your probability of connecting and engaging with them as they move down the funnel, and eventually convert into customers. The key metrics to take into account are impressions—the number of eyeballs obtained—and how viewable your ad is. A bonus metric to consider is click-through rate (CTR)—how many users who saw your ad clicked—or completed the video.
Utilizing 3rd-party audiences or any interest and intent audiences can help in casting a wide net to start. The targeting capabilities available within programmatic advertising can not only be seen as a targeting feature, but also a tool for unlocking useful data and insights about your audience’s interests, demographics, and at what stage of the funnel they are in. This information can help guide you in building and defining your ideal target audience.
To ensure consumers receive a personalized and cohesive brand message, it is crucial to be mindful and proactive when setting up retargeting, exclusion or lookalike audiences across platforms. This should be done right from the start, while your awareness campaign is in-market. It is a step that many advertisers, unfortunately, do not plan for and is typically an afterthought. While there is no harm in setting these audiences up across platforms, it will be too late if the audience was not captured in the first place. Planning ahead for your retargeting efforts allows for better and more informed campaigns down the funnel, providing the opportunity to expand and exclude audiences—ensuring your advertising dollars are used efficiently throughout. In addition, it facilitates consistent creative messaging that will help increase brand recall and affinity. If your leads visit your website after seeing your ad, you have successfully fostered brand awareness and were able to guide them into the next stage, mid-funnel—consideration and engagement—and a step closer to conversion.
Nurture with Engagement Campaigns
Not all advertisers realize the importance and impact that awareness and engagement campaigns have on conversion campaigns. While it can be seen as a tactic only for “small fish,” this is certainly not the case. In fact, awareness is so important for driving consideration and brand engagement, and is critical to ensure prospects reach that middle funnel. Users who have made it to the middle of the funnel are researching and learning more about your product or service offerings. They have expressed interest, indicating to advertisers that it is worth it to nurture these leads.
The engagement metrics to consider are CTR, average time spent on site, and video completions, depending on the chosen ad channel. Engagement metrics can provide insights and paint a picture of how impactful your campaign is from the target audience to creative messaging and the content on your website. You can be very creative when it comes to your targeting options—the possibilities are endless. Here are some ideas you can use:
- Custom Segments: One-of-a-kind segments based on user’s content consumption (proprietary to StackAdapt)
- Website Retargeting: Retarget users who have visited a particular page on your website
- Sequential Retargeting: Build and retarget users who have watched 25%, 50%, 75%, or 100% of a video or CTV ad, or retarget users who have seen or clicked on a native, display or video ad
- Audience Lookalike Expansion of 1st-Party CRM: Expand and reach new users who mimic the online behaviour of your CRM list—most desired users
- Geo Radius Targeting: Set a geo radius of where you would like to target users in real-time or build a pool of users who have visited the perimeter to be targeted later
Keeping your audience engaged will help to increase brand recognition. Brand recognition is so important for the overall health and success of your campaign, because it is the positive association a user has to your brand that will likely result in a conversion.
Attract with Conversion Campaigns
The ultimate goal of any overall campaign strategy is conversions. Even if a campaign is focused on awareness, the end goal is to garner more interest in a product or service, and get sales. Likewise, a lower funnel, conversion-based campaign is to generate new leads, purchases or encourage users to perform a predefined action on your website. These users have gotten here in many cases because of the awareness and engagement campaign you ran previously. Users at this stage are ready to purchase or convert—they may just need a few more reminders for your brand to stay top of mind and relevant.
This can be achieved through retargeting users who have demonstrated high-intent to convert from past site visits, or dynamically retargeting users with a hyper-customized ad with relevant information from the last product page visited. The metrics to keep in mind here are not only conversions and cost per acquisition (CPA) but also CTR. You want to ensure your ad is being seen and clicked on for the user to take that next step of performing your desired action.
When programmatic ad formats are incorporated within an omnichannel strategy, it can help filter and funnel qualified leads into walled gardens to help boost and increase conversions while keeping the cost down. Many advertisers may hyper-focus their media buys on search and social platforms to generate those sales or conversions. However, by adding a programmatic conversion campaign within your holistic full-funnel strategy, it will help you reach audiences outside of the walled gardens, increasing your probability of generating a sale. Programmatic advertising provides the flexibility to reach your desired audience when they are ready to engage, on whichever device is most convenient for them. It will also ensure that brand recognition is not lost.
Ad Formats to Consider
Now that you understand the difference between the campaign types let’s review the strengths of each ad format and examples of how they work together to propel your full-funnel strategy forward.
Video advertising can be viewed across all devices, offering advertisers the opportunity to tell a compelling story in a highly entertaining manner. It connects with the users emotionally, making it a memorable viewing experience.
- When incorporating video ads in awareness or engagement campaigns, you want to visually tell the brand story and capture the user’s attention ASAP. You can illustrate the brand’s lifestyle that a user can connect with or use the video as a teaser for a new product release
- Leveraging a CTA in a conversion campaign is crucial in helping your user navigate through the next steps. Attach conversion events to track view-through and click-through conversions to attribute it back to your campaigns efforts
Connected TV (CTV) is an attention grabbing format that can reach a mass audience. It enables advertisers to granularly target households programmatically. Allowing for quick and efficient decisions to be made. Consumers on a connected TV device have control over the content they are watching, making it a relaxed lean-back experience.
- In an awareness or engagement campaign, use strong imagery and sound to your advantage to tell a powerful story that influences emotions, while strategically collecting users to retarget—leading to potential conversions via different formats or devices
- On the other hand, in a conversion campaign, advertisers should attach conversion events to track view-through conversions to attribute the impact of the ad. Although CTV ad units are not clickable, having a strong call to action and reinforcing your brand can inspire your audience to complete a conversion on another device.
Display banners are highly viewable units that take on the role of digital billboards. They come in static or highly customizable rich media forms, enabling advertisers to track and monitor ad engagement.
- For awareness and engagement campaigns, use eye-catching imagery to showcase the brand and product offering, such as interactive banner ads—immersing users into a memorable first impression while gaining actionable insights
- For a conversion campaign, implement a clear and strong call to action can invoke a sense of urgency. For example, the use of countdown units aimed at driving your users to perform an action in a defined time period—or before the end of a specified time period—is very effective for sales, product releases, or even events.
Native ads are highly engaging because of their non-intrusive nature and the user’s familiarity with sponsored content that is relevant to the site content they are consuming. They can effectively showcase brand or product comparisons or provide interesting and educational stories.
- In awareness and engagement campaigns, leverage native advertising as a content distribution channel. Provide users with content they are researching on to help guide them into considering your product and brand such as highlighting product features
- In the lens of a conversion campaign, consider the ad’s tone of voice, and associated imagery, as well as the demographic the ad is intended for. Ensure you are using intent-related keywords such as “The Key To Purchasing Your First Car” to encourage an action
Depending on your marketing objective and strategy, programmatic advertising can either be executed in harmony to obtain a multi-channel experience, or it can be sprinkled throughout to complement other tactics to create an omnichannel experience. Remember, at the end of the day, all of your marketing efforts should help you generate leads and eventually turn those leads into long returning customers.