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What is Programmatic Advertising?

Should you consider programmatic in B2B? We look at what programmatic advertising is, how it works and key B2B considerations.


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James Self

strategicabm 550 60

Nov 21 2018 - 3min Read Date published: Date modified: 2020-12-15


Should you consider programmatic in B2B? We look at what programmatic is, how it works and key B2B considerations.

What is Programmatic Advertising? How Does it Work?

As almost two-thirds (63%) of B2B marketers plan to increase their spend on programmatic advertising in 2018, adoption of programmatic in B2B is advancing and programmatic is becoming an innovative opportunity.

When considered in combination with the right toolstack, data insight, and wider campaign planning, programmatic ad platforms offer the ability to precisely target very niche audiences; using custom audience segments, programmatic can run the right message to the right person at the right time. Accounting for a range of demographic, psychographic, contextual and time sensitive considerations, programmatic already offers impact in B2C; it’s predicted that by 2019, 67% of global digital display media will be bought and sold programmatically. Yet adoption into B2B, where audiences can be more niche, and budgets smaller, is just starting to take off. 

How does programmatic work? Similarly to other auction-based ad formats, programmatic bids on, buys and sells ad space, informed by specific data and insight into a target market. This insight is gained and refined through a variety of supporting platforms, which facilitate the process of buying ad inventory;

  • DMP (Data Management Platform). A crucial integration, the DMP collects and analyses cookie data to help marketers make more informed decisions of who their ideal target audience may be.
  • SSP (Supply Side Platform). Used to monetise programmatic ad inventory, the SSP reports on attention data (such as visitor page views, time on page), and considers the visitors context to inform/select winning ad bids to serve on a publishers site.
  • DSP (Demand Side Platform). This narrows the target audience, and then finally sends appropriate ads to the matched criteria gathered by the SSP.

The whole process takes milliseconds, but results in intelligent, informed and refined ad targeting, that automatically identifies the needs, demographics and buying behaviours needed for efficient ad management and delivery.

Should B2B Marketers Consider Programmatic for Campaigns?

If you’re including any variety of paid advertising in your B2B campaigns, you may also be considering programmatic, for audience targeting, retargeting and more. However, it is important to note that while programmatic does open up a range of benefits, programmatic on its own has limited capabilities for B2B brands. But, combining programmatic with intent data, along with targeted audience segments or cookies, provides the best opportunity for ROI.

Related: Marketing With Intent Data: Add Context, Timing And Relevance To Campaigns

Therefore, it is important to take a considered approach to programmatic; accounting for the right tactics and channels, and informed by B2B intent data. Not all programmatic campaigns will leverage that insight and toolset, but with intent data, this considered, deeper level of targeting gives B2B marketers reach on third-party websites where they, or the data vendor, have identified their buyer personas are active, or targeting cookies that fit their buyer profile. This is also important, as it ensures the best targeting capabilities for B2B in a space that is currently expanding from a B2C heritage.

Benefits of Programmatic

What benefits can B2B marketers see with programmatic? Typically, a well-considered, well-implemented campaign unlocks:

  • Targeting precision. Layered with accurate insight into a specific audience’s online behaviours, needs, geographic locations, demographics and more, programmatic can uncover the specifics of when, what, where and who to display ads to; enabling the most relevant viewability - and efficiency.

  • Increased ROI, effective spend. Programmatic enables intelligent ad serving in the environments that your target audiences are active across. As a result, your ads should reach the most relevant people.

  • Fast, automated ad serves. Active across thousands of publishers, programmatic automatically bids on ad space, allowing advertisers to efficiently buy ads without interacting with each individual publisher.

Alongside the benefits, there are still some challenges to address in programmatic, but in most B2B spaces it is worth testing and considering. 

Related: 6 Considerations For Marketing With Buying Intent

B2B programmatic is advancing and there is much innovation and many opportunities to gain in the space. But, keep in mind that a considered approach must be made when adopting it. To drive best opportunity for campaign success, B2B programmatic should be run in combination with other proven tactics and channels - such as a strong LinkedIn paid and organic strategy - and should be combined and informed by intent data in order to ensure precise targeting, particularly for campaigns such as ABM.