You’re Better Than That: Don’t Fall Prey to the Perils of Lowest-Possible CPMs – Open Your Marketing Mind to Context and Quality

programmatic advertising mega saleLaura O’Shaugnessy, CEO of Social Code recently published a great post on the problems with programmatic channels.  She talked about why low-cost CPMs are probably not worth the money you “save”.

She explains that while the automation benefits of Programmatic advertising promise elimination of low value work – some of the waste associated with the “trial and error” legacy approach – the reality is that while some work disappears, new, unanticipated sources of error have cropped up that can all but crater the benefits you seek.

programmatic advertising tightropeAs Laura notes, there’s real problems regarding getting what you hoped for and seeing what you’re getting.  There’s very little transparency.  Here some of what’s going on:

  • Despite your efforts to automatically target, rather than people, it’s bots who are “seeing” your ads.
  • Because inventory selection is automated, many of your ads, including video, are never actually “viewable”. People never get that far down the page.
  • Your ads don’t load, so they can’t actually be viewed.
  • Your ads reach a profile but that profile is not really your audience.
  • Your ads don’t actually run enough to have an impact – they miss the “frequency windows”

Programmatic is in its adolescence.  How you can do better.

No matter how you’re doing marketing execution, I believe the best way to start is with the right audience.  Finding the right audience isn’t very hard, but it isn’t as simple as selecting profiles and automating the rest.  If you do that, you may hit some interim KPIs – low CPMs for example — but there’s a huge risk that these will never address your business objectives in any way that you can substantiate.  After all, you won’t know who’s seen your ads and you won’t have any way to judge their true effect anytime soon.  At some point, someone is going to ask about this. Aren’t they?

What I’d do is start with an audience that I can easily define.  One that’s consuming content that is relevant to my business objectives.  In other words, “context”.  It’s the best way I’ve found to start doing better.

If you start with the right context …

Look to your media partner to provide you with detail about what editorial is consumed by the audiences they deliver.  You want to appear in that context because it’s what puts you where your buyers really are when they’re looking to solve their business problems.  That’s the first part.  But don’t stop there.

Double check that the search terms you expect your buyers would probably use actually take you to those properties.  So look them up on Google – Google is pretty darn objective.  Sure you can buy adwords to put you in the right context, but that’s expensive enough as it is and only about 10% of folks ever click on them.  The real meat is in the organic search terms.  You know that if a site turns up there on the first page when you search, you can be super confident that it will be something they will click on.  Nearly 90% of traffic actually occurs this way!

Be the best marketer you can be

If you’re the kind of marketer we all aspire to be, you see the opportunities that newer technologies present.  You owe it to your company to try them out.  At the same time, you know that practically every one creates new unforeseen failure points.  So if you’re like me, you’ll make sure that you always stay true to some key fundamentals.  You won’t fall prey to chasing promises that throw out the baby with the bathwater.

At TechTarget, we believe that great B2B marketing begins with being where your audience is when they are actively looking to solve their business problems.  That means, first, being where the editorial context is right all of the time, and second, being where search can deliver your message to them when they are actively looking for solutions to their needs.  It’s why we work so hard to create the kind of content that gets us first-page rankings more than anyone else in the technology business.  It’s why client after client, the ones who really want results, partner with us all along their evolution from awareness and consideration, to demand generation and through to sustainable sales pipelines.

So whether you’re doing Programmatic advertising — or frankly, whatever the method you’re experimenting with or committing to – please think long and hard about what your real objectives are.  Then think again.  And ask yourself:  “What would my best marketer-self really do”?  I think that many of you will agree with me.

Before looking at CPM as the be all and end all, you need to make sure you’re targeting your audience where they are, and especially, when they’re in buying mode.  We’re certain that’s the right context.  The fact is, it’s why we’ve built unrivaled purchase intent data solutions to support you all along the buyer’s journey.

John Steinert is the CMO of TechTarget where unique purchase intent data solutions are powering the marketing approaches of 100s of technology vendors to the audiences they serve.

audience targeting, b2b branding, banners, context marketing, CPM, display advertising, Marketing ROI, programmatic advertising, TechTarget

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