Programmatic Best Practices

By Michelle Wimmer, Head of Ad Operations and Data, Permission.io

Consumers are inundated with ads, many of which are not relevant

Today’s consumers are “always on,” toggling between digital devices. Consumer PC and mobile activities provide signals that enable data-driven marketing for brands that target ads based on attributes including device, content and behavior. In the digital era, programmatic advertising has been heralded as the de facto solution to deliver the right message, at the right time, to the right person. However, even with the data deluge and AI-infused technology at the marketers’ fingertips, brands still struggle to gain mindshare with the digital consumer. This is because consumers are inundated with thousands of ads on a daily basis.

In addition to hyper-targeted ad campaigns, there are mass reach and direct response campaigns simultaneously competing for eyeballs. Despite all of the programmatic potential, banner burnout is a major roadblock for brands competing in what is considered Web 2 (for historical perspective, Web 1 is considered 1990s to early 2000s). While campaign measurement and analytics continue to evolve, campaigns that drive a mere one engagement per 1,000 ads (0.1% CTR) are typically considered a success.

Instead of blaming tired creative, bad audience data, or an algorithm that missed the mark, perhaps it is the programmatic advertising model that needs a refresh? Given the glut of ads being cranked out, it’s no wonder that even the most compelling, timely ads will be glossed over. Fortunately, in rapidly evolving Web3, programmatic advertising can be reinvigorated if brands embrace asking – and incentivizing – consumers for their engagement.

Web 2 approach: attention grabbing

Historically, an advertiser’s main objective is to “grab” the consumer’s attention. This is no small feat considering attention is one of the most valuable commodities we have as human beings. As brands look for innovative ways to boost programmatic ad campaigns, the ability to grab attention is becoming more difficult if you consider that – depending on the device and demographic – anywhere from 25% to 50% of the internet population use ad blockers. It’s not a stretch to say the Web 2 advertising model is broken.

Instead of blanketing content with more intrusive and largely irrelevant ads with the hope of grabbing the consumer’s attention, what if marketers began the dialog by asking for the privilege to engage with each consumer? Better yet, what if marketers offered the consumer something of value above and beyond their product or service? This quid pro quo approach that rewards consumers for sharing their attention (and data) with brands is referred to as permission advertising.

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Web 3 approach: attention asking

There is a huge difference between asking someone for permission and rewarding them for sharing information versus interrupting them for a show n’ tell, then capturing information without direct consent. The former is the ethos of what is being dubbed Web 3, while the latter is standard practice in Web 2.

As consumers increasingly tune out even the “smartest” programmatic ads, data-driven marketers will likely look to their data science teams for patterns or clues that will provide that “aha” moment that will help their brand break through the clutter. The time and brain power allocated trying to crack the programmatic code for incremental lift are typically spent in vain.

Instead, why not allocate valuable resources on ad tech endeavors that address industry challenges, such as workarounds to cookie degradation and/or strategies for obtaining first party data?

The Web 3 approach sets the stage for a transparent exchange and ongoing conversation whereas Web 2 is spurring consumer data protection and adoption of ad blockers. When you factor in rewards for sharing attention and information, the permission advertising model of Web 3 becomes very appealing for the general consumer (79% will share information if there are proper incentives). Meanwhile, a permission brand differentiates itself from the attention grabbing brands, entering a new world of consumer engagement.

Brands should add permission as a campaign tactic

Marketers and their agencies are tasked with sifting through treasure troves of consumer research and insights as they map out multi-channel campaign strategies. There is more than enough technology, data and inventory available to launch programmatic campaigns that check all of the proverbial boxes. However, the key element that should be considered is whether or not the consumer is open to a conversation with a given brand. If the answer is unknown or no, then a brand will struggle to be seen, heard or considered. If the answer is yes, the path forward is much more clear. As the saying goes, trust is earned. Think of obtaining permission to interact with a consumer as a stepping stone to earning trust.

Transparent messaging that includes an equitable value exchange between the consumer and a brand sets the stage for openness and trust. Brands that are “all in” on programmatic ads should consider permission advertising as a solution to differentiate themselves from the pack, while unlocking new engagement opportunities with consumers who’ve succumbed to banner burnout. This novel approach may become a necessity as 3rd party data exits the stage and consumers get up to speed on how their data serves to spin the flywheel for the $500 billion digital ad industry and multi-trillion dollar data economy.

Web 3 advertising takes programmatic to the next level

The machine learning and real-time decisioning capabilities popularized in Web 2 demand-side platforms (DSPs) will be leveraged using the Web 3 ethos that includes consumer data ownership. Call it a programmatic paradigm shift – consumers increasingly dictate how, where and when their attention and data is shared. Marketers and agencies who join the Web 3 movement will be well-positioned to establish trust and loyalty with consumers as we enter the next chapter of the internet and programmatic advertising.

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