The concept of programmatic is still a little misunderstood. I’ve been talking to healthcare marketers about programmatic for over two years now, and I keep brushing up against the same misconceptions fairly consistently from marketers and media professionals. Here’s a quick post to address them in writing. I hope you find this useful.
1. Misconception: Programmatic is a tactic
Reality: Programmatic is how you implement your tactics
Programmatic is the automation of matching demand to supply. Remember when stock market trades were executed manually? Then it moved to automated buying, using data, in real-time. That’s essentially what programmatic is. And because programmatic ‘open markets’ basically open up access to both demand and supply, they enable data-driven micro-targeting, cost efficiency, and optimization.
In health, this automated buying can be used to distribute advertising, which is what we’re most familiar with, but is also being used for content distribution and CRM (email) experience management. Health organizations are also starting to use these automated approaches for population health management, using data and technology to distribute health management interventions to manage people’s health risks in extremely personalized ways.
Deciding on programmatic means deciding not to go manual. But it doesn’t stop there. Your programmatic buy still needs a strategy (audience definition, desired mindset, action standard), and still needs a tactic (advertising, video engagement, cross-device reach, cross-channel experience). Programmatic isn’t the tactic. It’s a means to implementing your tactics with ease.
2. Misconception: Programmatic is different from endemic buys
Reality: Programmatic is a better way to buy endemic media
Many marketers build their media plans with endemic sponsorships as the base, and then use programmatic to supplement this reach and / or balance out the CPMs.
But what if you were to bring programmatic to those sponsorship buys? Data and technology would give you the ability to write and implement targeting rules, have direct access to inventory, adjust your creative, and have it all be automated. Programmatic would, in effect, make your premium buy even more premium.
And when you’ve saturated your endemic reach, programmatic enables marketers to supersonically access the massive untapped potential across the internet, inclusive of endemic. By buying programmatically, you can standardize your targeting across all of your outreach, auto-optimize your buy, and load balance your efforts across your entire campaign to deliver the right mix of cost, quality and scale.
The only caveat to this is that you need to work with a programmatic partner who has access to premium, high-quality endemic and health-relevant inventory.
3. Misconception: Programmatic targeting is too broad
Reality: Programmatic targeting is machine-driven, and more finely-tuned, than any other option
Most marketers think of programmatic targeting as re-targeting. Someone visited my website, and I now follow them around the Web with reminder ads.
Programmatic targeting is so much more, enabled by the automation of the targeting and the heavy and versatile use of data. Here are some ways you can target your audience when working programmatically, using:
4. Misconception: Programmatic yields positive CPRx but no scale
Reality: Programmatic yields quality scale—but you have to work with the right partner
Not all programmatic companies are the same. Programmatic companies without deep knowledge about the health industry may give you top-of-the funnel scale but fail to convert the users they reach. These companies effectively give you low CPRx but no scale.
Instead, look for a partner that doesn’t just reach people but reaches the right people and knows how to engage them as well. When selecting your programmatic partner, look for one that has health reach capabilities.
Some questions to probe on are:
5. Misconception: Programmatic is best left to the programmatic buyers
Reality: Programmatic needs marketers’ strategic acumen to work
Programmatic buyers worry about how well the programmatic machinery works. Talk to a programmatic buyer, and they are obsessing over ad ops, campaign specs, platform and device determination, targeting and retargeting specs, channels and channel mix, budget forecasting, brand safety targets, campaign execution, campaign optimization, and metric reporting. All important, but an incomplete view of your campaign.
Here’s what else a programmatic approach needs to be successful:
(Notice that these lie squarely in the domain of the strategic marketer. While some of this may seem like ‘tablestakes’ for any marketer, the personalization possibilities opened up by programmatic make it more complex, more varied and more customizable than a manual buy.)
Don’t hand off your programmatic dollars and check the box. Programmatic is just the ‘how’. Stay involved in the ‘what’ – and drive strategic returns from your investment.
Technology and data (= programmatic) are transforming life, healthcare, marketing and media. Programmatic, when done right, enables us to be hyper-targeted and radically personalized, and reach the largest swath of our audience at efficient costs in an integrated and optimized way. Marketers, isn’t this what we’ve been searching for?
Chris Neuner, Chief Revenue Officer at PulsePoint, has 20 years’ experience driving performance in the interactive marketing and media space. He brings to PulsePoint a proven track record of partnering with leading pharmaceutical companies and agency partners to build successful businesses.
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