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Avoid These 5 Pitfalls of Programmatic Advertising

By: Lindsay Moura | 3/15/24

Programmatic advertising has become the cornerstone of many marketing strategies. With its ability to target specific audiences, automate ad placements, and optimize campaigns efficiently and in real-time, programmatic advertising offers immense potential for businesses to reach more targeted customers. However, amidst its promises come several pitfalls that, if left unchecked, can drain budgets and undermine your marketing efforts.

Avoid these 5 common pitfalls to ensure your programmatic campaigns deliver the desired results.

Poor Ad Placements & Brand Safety

This is probably the most common concern we hear. Low quality ad placements can lead to more bot traffic to your website, inflate your ad impressions, and then in turn, negatively impact your conversions, conversion rates, and cost per conversions. It also threatens your brand reputation and trust with your audience if your ads appear alongside inappropriate content or content that clearly doesn’t align with your business values.

To mitigate the risk of ad fraud and ensure brand safety, work with reputable ad networks and demand-side platforms (DSPs) that have strict fraud detection measures and a clear vetting process for any new inventory they add to their platform. StackAdapt, for example, is a reputable DSP that partners with MOAT in order to perform bid analysis to ensure every action such as a click is in fact real and ads placement are safe for the brand. In addition to this, it’s important at the onset of campaign launch and then ongoing to manage whitelists and blacklists to control where your ads appear and avoid high-risk websites and content categories. 

Lack of Strategy

One of the most common pitfalls in digital advertising, but particularly in programmatic, is diving in without a clear strategy. It's essential to define your campaign objectives, target audience, key performance indicators (KPIs), and budget constraints before launching any campaign. Without a solid strategy in place, you risk wasting resources on ineffective ad placements, poor and irrelevant targeting, and failing to achieve your desired outcomes.

To avoid this pitfall, take the time to develop a comprehensive strategy that aligns with your overall marketing goals. Conduct audience research to understand their preferences and behaviors, segment your audience based on relevant criteria, and tailor your messaging and creative assets accordingly. Additionally, establish KPIs that are measurable, such as click-through rates, conversion rates, and return on ad spend (ROAS), to track the performance of your campaigns accurately.

Lack of Audience Targeting

Effective audience targeting is critical to the success of programmatic advertising campaigns. However, relying solely on broad demographic targeting or generic audience segments can result in wasted ad spend and missed opportunities to engage with potential customers. To maximize the impact of your campaigns, leverage advanced targeting options offered by programmatic platforms, such as contextual targeting, retargeting, and lookalike audience modeling. As third-party cookies have become a thing of the past, be sure to also lean heavily on your first-party data such as from your CRM and create custom audience segments based on that. To learn more strategies on how to transform your marketing strategy without third-party cookies, watch our webinar.

Poor Ad Creative and Messaging

Even with precise audience targeting and robust fraud prevention measures, programmatic advertising campaigns can falter if the ad creative and messaging fail to resonate with the target audience. Generic or uninspiring ad creatives are unlikely to capture users' attention or drive engagement, resulting in low click-through rates and conversion rates.

To create compelling ad creatives that cut through the clutter and capture users' interest, focus on delivering value propositions that address their needs, pain points, and aspirations. Leverage a variety of ads such as display, native, audio, and video, but also rich formats like animated, carousel, countdown ads. Think beyond a traditional static display image, knowing that people are bombarded with thousands of ads a day, making it necessary that yours stands out. Like anything else though, be sure you’re choosing an ad format that makes sense for you and what you’re trying to promote. 

Inadequate Monitoring and Optimization

Continuous monitoring and optimization are essential to the success of any campaign on any other channel. Failing to analyze campaign performance data and make timely adjustments can result in missed opportunities to optimize ad placements, improve targeting, and maximize your ROI (return on investment). 

All in all, while programmatic advertising offers unprecedented opportunities to reach and engage with highly relevant audiences at scale, it also comes with its fair share of challenges and pitfalls. By developing a comprehensive strategy, refining audience targeting, prioritizing ad fraud prevention and brand safety measures, crafting compelling ad creatives, and continuously monitoring and optimizing campaign performance, you can navigate the complexities of programmatic advertising successfully and achieve their marketing objectives. Still need help? Contact us to learn about our programmatic buying and strategy expertise and a quick consultation.



Meet the Author: Lindsay Moura



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