3 Reasons Your Programmatic Team Is Losing You Money

Programmatic is more profitable than ever before and yet your programmatic team is most likely losing you money. Let me explain: Programmatic is a hot commodity. Last month, Emarketer reported that programmatic will account for $59.5 billion in ad dollars for 2019 or 85% of the US digital display ad market. Plenty of connected TV sources have ventured into the programmatic pool as well– A and E Networks has seen steady income after making its digital inventory widely available through programmatic marketplaces.

Given these high-profile fireworks, many advertisers are jumping into programmatic with both feet. As always, however, getting tangible value out of digital media takes work and a programmatic buy is not a guarantee of success. As Brian Sykora, Associate Director, Data Products at Advantage Performance Group, puts it: “When you buy programmatically, it’s easy to fall into the trap of letting the platforms do the work. You have to treat it like any other campaign: define an objective, put the right targeting tactics in place, then measure against your goals.”

As programmatic continues to boom, make sure your team is getting the most out of its campaigns by avoiding these three common pitfalls mentioned below:

1. You’re not using the right platforms

Most companies have a go-to DSP they use for all their purchases. Maybe it’s the cheapest option, maybe they cut an agreeable deal, or maybe it’s just the way they’ve always bought programmatic inventory. A good programmatic team knows not all DSPs compete in auctions the same way—each one offers a different selling point. DSPs also differ widely in their data availability. Some platforms give access to a set group of third party “co-ops” for lower prices, while others only give the option of layering in third-party data. The way data is priced and layered into a buy can make all the difference for a campaign, so your team must constantly evaluate which DSPs, or combination of DSPs, best serve your needs. According to Adexchanger, the average marketer uses three DSPs. Your team should be platform agnostic, aligning platform picks with campaign goals and objectives.

Using the right DSP is one of the biggest decisions a trading desk must make. Ensure your team knows which selling points and unique value propositions to weigh when making its DSP selection. Being platform agnostic is helpful in eliminating biases in tech decisioning.

2. You’re not making the most of your media

It has never been easier to effectively reach specific target audiences. There’s display, OTT video, native impressions, mobile, streaming audio – the list goes on. For years these were broken into two types of inventory: traditional and digital. Digital encompassed all things mobile and desktop, while traditional covered physical billboards, radio, TV commercials, and print. With the rise of programmatic, the realms of digital and traditional have bled into one another. It’s your programmatic team’s job to figure out how to leverage traditional assets with their digital counterparts. This could mean repurposing audio spots meant for radio to Spotify or running video assets on the connected TV. Last month, Verizon media even added digital out-of-home (DOOH) inventory to its omnichannel DSP line-up, allowing advertisers to place ads on screens in airports, bars, and elevators.

Each screen offers a different audience and a different reach. Your team must tailor its inventory to specific campaigns, picking and choosing which ad-spaces will best meet your client’s goals. But reaching a particular set of audiences is the first step. Managing frequency across display, OTT, OOH, and video is what allows programmatic to excel.

3. Your ROI is MIA

A good programmatic team delivers on campaign goals—a great one knows how to prove it. Whether the inventory is purchased through CPMs, CPE, or CTRs, your programmatic team must draw clear lines between the media spend and the end results. This goes beyond simple eyeball tracking. Your team must have the right attribution system in place to fully capture the impact of your digital spend. This, of course, is easier said than done. Attribution continues to evolve as offline data, like in-store visits, becomes easier to tie to online spend. Major players like Amobee enable advertisers to measure sales lift at retailers. This helps them understand how their media spend is affecting purchases at individual stores and markets. Multi-channel spend means multi-channel impact, and having the right attribution platforms in place can make the difference between a lackluster programmatic campaign and a core driver of impact.


It is crucial to back up your programmatic campaigns with the right attribution platforms. In the world of performance advertising, you can’t afford not to.

As programmatic approaches adulthood, your team needs to make the most of every opportunity. That means clearly defining each campaign’s objectives, using carefully chosen DSPs, allocating plenty of quality inventory, and using the right measuring tools and third-party verifiers to justify ad spend.

Read more: New Research: How Brands Can Connect on OTT and CTV