Programmatic advertising has become the shiny new penny of the digital marketing world. It’s an old-ish concept with a posh new look that doesn’t break the bank. A wave of interest is knocking at its door because it reduces cost while targeting your direct audience, forgoing the traditional, time-consuming online advertising. 

Sure, this sounds appealing. You might be wondering, what exactly is programmatic advertising, and how can I use it for my online ads campaign?

This article will use various examples within the investment management marketing vertical to explain what programmatic advertising is and will teach you how to reach your target audience within your marketing budget.

What is Programmatic Advertising?

Sign that says Look Inside

Programmatic advertising automates buying and selling online advertising by pinpointing the specific target audience. This advanced technology does this by only showing ads to matched targeted individuals through mobile apps, CTVs (Connected TVs), video, and even voice ads.

In traditional advertising, you might want to target everyone who visits a particular website or anyone who watches a specific TV show. With programmatic advertising, you’re targeting a subset of those traditional audiences. Instead of targeting the location for an ad, you’re targeting the individual; no matter where they might be, you’re focusing on that person despite what medium they’re using.

One Rule You Should Always Follow in Programmatic Advertising: Know Your Audience

Meet Mellody, an investment management marketer who had a busy week ideating new creative, drafting content, and crunching numbers. Her workday is ending, and she’s ready to put her feet up with her right hand seized by the Roku remote, a glass of sauvignon blanc swishing around in her left. 

The moment the clock hit 5, Mellody headed out the door to her local grocery store to pick up a bottle. On a quest for a new brand to try, she browses the aisles, scoops one up, scans her rewards card, and pays at the register.

Finally, after battling rush hour traffic, Mellody sinks into her couch, flipping through the myriad of streaming apps in search of a show to binge. Nothing caught her eye, so she starts fishing for ideas on her phone.

As she peruses through websites and sneaks a peek at what is happening on social media, she notices the brand of wine she just purchased at the grocery store is now producing ads on her mobile device. These display ads aren’t prompting her to buy the wine. Instead, they’re providing her with suggestions of what she could pair her new bottle of wine with for a pleasant customer experience. Now, Mellody is left wondering if it’s worth the trip back to the grocery store to pick up a cheese plate.

On her car ride back to the grocery store, she wonders how her phone already knew that she bought not just that brand, but that specific bottle of wine

store receipt showing wine purchase

That is programmatic advertising. That brand of wine identified Mellody as a consumer and placed her into its audience bucket for targeted ads through various channels. It all started when she scanned her rewards card.

So, how can you hit your audience right between the eyes and through the heart?

Mellody’s true-to-life example shows us that programmatic technology can tap into a person’s phone using consumer data to identify an individual in a target audience. But it can do so much more than that. You can plug into the exact device, the particular site, and even location at that instant in time through what we like to call “digital real estate.”

With all these multitudinous functions, how can we put them into action? Marketers have five levers of programmatic advertising to pull to design a marketing strategy to meet their online marketing objective.

5 Levers of Programmatic Advertising

  1. Apps – Mobile phones can tell you everything about your target audience.
  2. Timing – Break the cold-to-close timing myth.
  3. Cost – Pinpoint the right investor audiences without a Super Bowl budget.
  4. CTV – Connected TV is revolutionizing television advertising and is way more affordable than you think.
  5. Data – Leveraging data providers to build and test proprietary mixes.

The trick is knowing which levers to pull and when to pull them to reach your audience while staying within your market budget. We’ll talk more about these five levers in our three secrets of programmatic advertising.

The 3 Secrets

Girl with a secret

Secret #1 – Break through the noise

There is a ton of noise in the financial vertical, making it an incredibly competitive industry with a number of products. In such a clamorous sector, how can we reach across the open web to target our audience? One lever that can be pulled to pinpoint your audience is based on the apps on their phone (also known as app ownership).

For example, if you want to target people with a trading app on their device, such as TD Ameritrade, you can include them in your ad space bucket. Now that you have them in your bucket, you can use the power of cross-device marketing to target that audience through other online channels.

Let’s say you want to get even more granular and want to find high net-worth investors who subscribe to your weekly asset management marketing newsletter and watch Bloomberg. If you want to needle in further, you can even track by occupation (by title or the company they work for), location, or geo-location (trade shows, conferences, etc.), too.

We can find another money-saving pro-tip by looking at Acorns, who recently launched their Early app. They are targeting parents to get them to invest in the future of their children early.

An interesting thing about programmatic is that excluding some audiences instead of including them is a cheaper, effective display advertising technique. Acorns could essentially exclude dads from their campaign to only focus on moms. They could even zero in on age ranges and life events (like age ranges of children whose parents are entering and considering saving for large expenses like college and the like).

Programmatic advertising can combine these targeting characteristics to create the perfect audience intersection. For more on this, see our on-demand webinar or contact a Zero Company programmatic specialist.

Secret #2 – Break the Cold-to-Close Myth

Once you know your audience, you can take your programmatic advertising campaign to the next level. Our second lever, timing, is certainly of the essence when it comes to closing the cold-to-close myth. This common marketing myth states that a brand needs to engage with and invest in a target audience for an extended period to take someone from being unaware to being a customer.

This really isn’t the case. Take retail during the holiday season. It is a period of high conversion (purchase) activity. 

Search traffic spikes are the time to increase spend.

event spike

(Source: Zero Company)

These high activity periods exist in the financial services and investment space (or, quite frankly, any other industry) and can be treated the same. This knowledge provides you with the opportunity to catch a noticeable spike in traffic by reviewing a fund’s, or ETF’s, search volume using the data on Google Trends or other tools. 

Take advantage of high traffic and high conversion events

Green: Holdings (RHS) Pink: Price (LHS)

chart showing activity of etf

(Source: Robintrack by Ameo / Casey Primozic + Alex J. Logo by Michael Sharon ©2020)

Upon seeing that, you can increase the spend on the programmatic campaign using your targeted audience and watch as the holdings start to go up. Continue to monitor the trend so that you can scale back your advertising spend when the momentum slides and the traffic wanes.

As you can see, this data lever not only debunks the cold-to-close myth, it gives you the ability to use sophisticated tools and vigilance, so you know when to step in and out by increasing advertising spend at times of increased activity for better ROI. That is another power of programmatic advertising.

Secret #3 – You don’t need a Super Bowl budget to get in front of millions 

fans watching superbowl

Let’s go back to Mellody. A few days after drinking the bottle of wine she purchased, she ran into her neighbor, who coincidentally watched the same show on the same streaming app that Mellody used. While examining the main character’s nuances, her neighbor brought up how tired he was of watching the same commercial that continually interrupted his viewing. Oddly enough, Mellody never saw that commercial; instead, her streaming app presented a completely distinct set.

They wondered how they could live across the street from each other, watching the same show via the same streaming service at nearly the same time but witnessed different commercials. That is how programmatic advertising with CTV works. Mellody and her neighbor were placed into different buckets; therefore, their commercials targeted their specific interests.

That might make you think, wow, must be expensive. But actually, it’s not. Programmatic advertising allows you to target your exact audience while reducing cost. You’ll also notice your return on investment will be higher than if you spent millions on four or five traditional 30-second commercial spots on cable television, especially for some airtime during the Super Bowl.

If you had to guess, how much do you think one Super Bowl ad costs? $1 million, $2 million, maybe? A 30-second spot during the 2020 Super Bowl cost advertisers $5.6 million. Sure, you’ll get your brand in front of millions of people within approximately four hours.

The bottom line is, you’re probably reaching a pool of people outside of your target audience, negatively impacting your ROI.

With programmatic advertising, you can reach a broad, targeted audience with less than 10% of that $5,600,000 to receive superior results. To show how varied budgets can be, suppose that an advertiser has a $500,000 annual budget. We’ll take the average $4 cost per click and divide that into a half-million dollars, which gives us 125,000 clicks, with a 1% conversion rate. 

Now you have 1,250 new investors driven from a $500,000 annual campaign. At an average account size of just $50,000 per new client (which should be considered very small), the investment manager would turn that $500,000 into $62.5 million in new assets under management (AUM).

As you can see, the cost and CTV levers can help you close the budget gap by reaching your specific audience to increase ROI.

Does this mean I should only do programmatic advertising?

Not necessarily. We don’t recommend that you spend all of your marketing budget on programmatic advertising. Today, our focus was on one piece of the digital marketing puzzle. We reviewed how we can utilize this tool in our toolbelt to pinpoint your target audience, identified the five levers of programmatic advertising, and divulged three secrets on how to assist you in meeting growth goals while keeping cost down and ROI up.

Josh Prizer once said, “digital marketing is part science, part art. It’s important to blend the two to get the right results.” To his point, Zero Company believes merging programmatic advertising into your marketing strategy can get you in front of millions without a Super Bowl budget.

superhero kid with boxing gloves

Take the next step. Let our team of digital marketing professionals pull the levers for you. Give us a call toll-free at (888) 885-3995 or email us at [email protected] to identify your targeted audience and meet your marketing goals.