Programmatic advertising continues its meteoric rise. Experts predict the market will reach almost $150 billion in the next 12 months.
As a business owner, you’re likely considering the move to programmatic marketing. You’ve read up on the benefits for your business. You know it can help you reach the right audience, as well as manage your budget.
There’s one question left. How do you get started?
For many business owners, the answer is partnering with a programmatic marketing company. Of course, choosing a partner presents its own challenges. How do you know you’re teaming up with the best in the business?
That’s where this guide comes in. With it, you’ll learn how you can spot the best partner for your business. The right partnership is key to business growth, so dive right in.
Look at the Agency’s Track Record
The first thing to do when you’re considering any programmatic ad company is to take a look at the company’s track record.
Programmatic advertising is still relatively new. Some of the partners you may choose may not have been in business very long. Their team members may have longer resumes, though, with plenty of experience in other areas.
More important is the company’s track record. Can they provide you with case studies of client success? What are their customers saying about them on social media or in reviews?
Programmatic advertising success hinges on metrics. An agency should be able to provide you with some measure of their own success.
Why is it important to team up with an agency with a track record of success? It’s not always a mistake to partner with a new, unproven agency, but you want to spend your money wisely. Partnering with a proven company is a good way to ensure you get the results you’re looking for.
Consider the Technology They Use
Next, you’ll want to look at the technology the agency adopted for programmatic marketing. You should be looking for agencies that are DSP agnostics.
Almost every demand-side platform touts itself as being “the name” or the only choice. In reality, all of them have strengths and weaknesses.
If you partner with an agency that only uses one DSP, you could be missing out on the benefits of other DSPs. It might turn out that another DSP would better serve your needs.
When a programmatic marketing company is agnostic, it means they’re willing to choose the DSP that works for you. That’s a much better solution than a company that tries to sell you on a DSP as being the be-all, end-all of programmatic.
Don’t forget that you can ask the company about their reasons for recommending one DSP over another. They should be able to make recommendations about the DSP that will best fit your needs. They may even consider adding another DSP if they think it might benefit you and their other clients.
Finally, take a look at any other technologies they may be using for tracking and reporting, among other things.
Demand Transparency for Programmatic Marketing
Transparency in the ad buying process has always been something of a concern for advertisers. Opaque processes can hide ineffectiveness, creating “dead weight” in your budget.
Programmatic marketing often seems a bit opaque, especially if it’s not your area of expertise. The processes can be obscure. Some of them lack the transparency to show you exactly where your ad spend is going.
Your partner should be able to offer you better transparency. This may be through the adoption of newer technologies, like header bidding. They might also focus on placements that are transparent and traceable, so you know where your advertising dollars are going.
In turn, they’ll help you craft more focused campaigns that reach people who are most likely to buy. This combination of technology and focus on KPIs can help you remove “dead weight” from the budget.
Ask any potential partner about their processes. How do they ensure you’re getting the best placements? How transparent are the decision-making processes, and how traceable are placements?
By asking these questions, you’ll ensure you’re working with a partner who will spend your budget effectively.
Ask about Pricing and Flexibility
Another area where you want to demand transparency is programmatic advertising pricing. Many agencies say they’re upfront and honest about their fees. Later, clients discover hidden charges or add-on fees.
Ask any potential partner exactly what their fee structure is. You’ll want to inquire about the following:
- Set-up fees
- Agency management fees
- Fees from tech partners
You’ll want to ask about the structure of these fees, as well as who’s doing the work. Some agencies allow the tech company to take care of set up, but they charge extra fees for it. If the company sells “flat CPMs,” ask about backend margins.
You’ll also want to think about the pricing structure when it comes to the packages the agency offers. There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to marketing.
An agency should have a standard services package. This can give you a baseline for what you’ll receive and about how much these services will cost.
There should be more flexibility, allowing you to build a custom services package. Your business is unique, and you’ll need a unique mix of services. One company may need more strategy, while another will want to use a mix of ad types and DSPs.
If you do opt for a standardized package, be sure it includes both marketing-as-a-service and strategic consulting. This provides you with access to the agency’s expertise, as well as their service. By combining the two, you can get a better handle on your programmatic campaigns.
Consider Your Own Needs and Strategy
As mentioned, your business is unique. By extension, you’ll need a unique mix of services from any partner. To that end, you’ll want to have a closer look at your own needs and strategy.
Think first about your brand. What are your goals? If you want to increase retention and the agency specializes in campaigns that convert new customers, you have a mismatch.
Brand-agency mismatches can go deeper as well. Your brand may value building customer relationships. The agency believes in the power of the quick sale.
You may have completely different outlooks on what makes an effective campaign. You may even disagree about what your partnership should look like.
Awareness of Customer Pathways
Your company is unique, and so are your customers. The way they move through your marketing funnel is a key insight, one your agency partner should be taking note of.
Understanding how your customers move through the funnel can identify trigger points. Your agency partner can recommend different platforms to address consumers at different stages.
An example is Facebook’s retargeting capabilities. This platform may not be right for people at the top of the funnel, who are just becoming aware of your brand. For people who have already clicked through, these capabilities can move them toward the bottom of the funnel.
With knowledge of customer pathways, your agency partner can optimize campaigns across platforms. That way, you can reach the right people at the right time.
Think about Specializations
Think back on your strategy. What kinds of advertising do you want to focus on?
Suppose you want to focus on video advertising. After all, video marketing has seen plenty of growth over the last few years. More and more content is focused on videos.
You’re likely going to want to find someone who has experience with programmatic video ads. You might even look for a company that has expertise in this area.
You could partner with a company that does programmatic marketing more generally, but they may be focused on banner ads. Or, their strength may be in audio advertising.
While it’s good to diversify your efforts, you may want to pick a partner that has strengths in your area of focus. You may even want to consider a multi-partner strategy.
Often, though, your best bet is to pick one agency and work with them. This ensures your brand won’t end up bidding against itself for placements.
You may even want to look for an agency that can go beyond programmatic as well. The company may specialize in video ads, but they may be able to offer a more well-rounded approach to your marketing strategy as a whole.
Look at Depth of Optimization
Another factor you need to consider is how deep any agency’s optimization goes. Are they doing surface-level optimization? Are they taking a deep dive into your metrics to figure out why something is working?
The AI technology used makes it easy to put campaigns on “auto-pilot.” The AI learns from the data collected and adjusts the campaign on its own. Your agency partner may not need to do much to drive results.
If that’s the case, you need to ask if the services fee is worth it. You should also ask another question. Are your campaigns being optimized to their full extent?
The AI may deliver results, but what would happen if the agency’s team was more actively involved? Generally speaking, you’ll walk away with a deeper understanding of why something works.
That’s the insight that AI can’t provide. AI is great at recognizing patterns and capitalizing on them. But, it can’t tell you why people react to Ad A better than Ad B.
That’s where your agency partner comes in. They can take that deeper dive into the data and see beyond patterns.
A great agency partner offers this depth of optimization by default. Other agencies may stay at the surface level, collecting data but never using it to its full extent.
For that reason, you’ll want to ask any potential partner about their data analysis. Will they help you understand your audience, or are they just going to leave you on auto-pilot?
Check-in on Customer Service
The optimization depth speaks to how involved a programmatic company is with their clients’ success. Agencies that leave you on auto-pilot have a “good enough” attitude toward campaigns. Companies that offer deeper dives and more insights are more invested in your long-term success.
An agency’s investment in you as a client can often be seen in another way too. Think about the customer service you’re receiving from any potential agency partner.
As you look for the best programmatic marketing company, think about the following:
- How quickly did they respond to your query email?
- Were they friendly in their communications?
- What contact options do they provide?
- Were they helpful in answering your questions?
- Did they go above and beyond to assist you?
If the company isn’t responding to you or isn’t helpful now, what’s the likelihood their service will improve once you’re booked with them?
You may also want to look at reviews from other customers. What are people saying about their experiences working with this agency?
Don’t be afraid to look at a variety of resources. The company’s own website is a great place to start but look for reviews on third-party sites as well.
Discover What Programmatic Marketing Can Do for You
Programmatic marketing may seem like something you can put on auto-pilot. However, you can benefit from the experience and expertise of a programmatic marketing company. Their insights can help you take a deeper dive and truly understand your audience.
From there, it’s easier to craft campaigns that outperform your expectations every time. With the right agency partner on your side, you can sharpen your ad spend and get your ads where they need to be.
Ready to get started with a better programmatic video marketing strategy today? Get in touch with the experts. With the right team on your side, there’s no limit to campaign success.