Advertising spend has traditionally been expensive but digital media buyers are able to cut costs by up to ten times the budget by understanding and efficiently using Programmatic Media Buying (PMB). Delivering a targeted message across all devices, the advertisement reaches the right audiences with the right messages at exactly the right time in the customer’s buying journey.

Programmatic marketing is the latest technology solution available to South African marketers. Already a $12 billion market globally, it is expected to reach $33 billion by 2017. With an outsized share of the pie, currently, 85% of US advertisers and 72% of publishers use programmatic strategies and its fast gaining ground in South Africa’s digital and mobile-connected landscape.

Shrewd marketers and media buyers use automation to track and trace a customer’s journey across South Africa’s multiple media channels. By combining all the data into one dashboard, programmatic provides a transparent view into an advertising campaign in real time. It allows for a more targeted analysis of data, dynamic creative adjustments and delivery of a more relevant conversation with the required audience.

So what does it mean for brand marketers? No wastage of brand budgets, more accountability of spend for chief marketing officers (CMO’s), and increased efficiency. Programmatic advertising technology removes the spreadsheets, manual insertion orders and menial tasks and makes the ad buying system more efficient and effective. It empowers brand managers to align organisational workflows to programmatic’s automation technology – capable of working faster than any human capabilities. This means marketers can spend more time planning and interacting with the client and creative departments towards more customised consumer campaigns. It allows creative teams time to focus on formulating more relevant and engaging campaigns for their target audiences.

What does it mean for consumers? Audiences are more likely to engage and respond at the moment of delivery when the message is most relevant to them. It serves direct response and branding because it targets the eyeballs and not the channel. It is a direct path with a relevant message.

What hasn’t changed within the branding landscape is that advertisers don’t want to waste money. The benefit is that they maintain direct control of the budget. Programmatic media buying holds budgets accountable and returns the highest amount of value possible. It exponentially increases and quantifies the chances of an advertisement being viewed by the right audiences to drive the sales return of a message. Back by full reporting, programmatic data delivers transparency of spend.

Programmatic marketing is recognised as a powerful tool for marketers to gain the most leverage from their marketing spend. However there still seems to be confusion in the market that it is merely real-time bidding (RTB).

“Programmatic buying is not the same as real-time bidding. Real time bidding is  automated ad buying through real-time auctions,” explains  Craig Utermark, CEO of Atmosphere Orange, one of the first digital media management companies to deliver a bespoke programmatic marketing service into the South African market. “Programmatic marketing automates the buying, placement and optimisation of advertising and delivers a higher ROI through digital platform efficiencies across Exchanges, trading desks, and Data Management Platforms (DMPs). It is a more far-reaching platform that performs more complex decision across a variety of systems, including website content management, email, call center enabled chat, mobile apps, and CRM systems.”

This means that media buyers have access to far more data than ever before as they reach wider and better targeted audiences. With the speed of sales generated by click-through and conversion rates, digital marketing allows demographic, behavioural and contextual targeting and remarketing to niche audiences. Constantly refining audience targeting means more metrics. With more metrics comes more measurement of cost per conversion (CPC), effective cost per thousand (CPM) and overall online reach and scaleability to support inbound marketing strategies and calculate the return on investment (ROI) of marketing efforts. Lead nurturing is one of the most powerful aspects of programmatic as it is capable of identifying exactly where people are in the sales journey.

The shift from traditional to digital advertising means delivery of a more responsive cross device advertising campaign. Campaigns run seamlessly over multiple digital platforms and the different screens on which they are being delivered, be it on a phone, tablet, laptop, video or television. Dedicated teams – such as that of Atmosphere Orange – interact with advertisers and brand marketers to integrate and leverage the data, optimising and recalibrating campaigns in real time. Not only does the campaign benefit from an increase in scale and targeting potential, it ensures operational speed and efficiency. This is backed up by transparent tracking and reporting and an opportunity to optimise and recalibrate campaigns continuously.

Programmatic marketing is without a doubt the future of online advertising. South African brand advertisers will need to embrace this new technology within the marketing process if they want to increase business revenue and achieve true omni-channel, customer-centric reach.

What is delaying uptake in South Africa is that not enough marketers truly understand the process and how to best navigate their brands through it.

Says Utermark: “For our clients already on-board, we find that once they see the process in action they are better able to understand and see the advantages and opportunities it offers as a powerful channel to market. Experience is the best teacher. With that in mind, we offer South African brand marketers the opportunity to engage with us on a provisional campaign basis so they can see the results for themselves. One of the strongest tools in the programmatic box is its efficiency and transparency. Once they see the results and experience the reach and conversations, we usually end up sitting across the desk from a very happy CMO wanting to know more.”

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