Every time a retailer hears the cash register ring, an angel gets its wings.

The sweet sounds of the holiday season are no different for online retailers. From Black Friday to Cyber Monday to the 12th Day of Christmas, the end of the year brings a festive revenue spike to savvy ecommerce businesses.

But your stocking could be full of coal if you aren’t using programmatic advertising to your advantage.

Symphonic Digital is becoming a leader in account-based marketing and programmatic technologies. Our team-led approach ensures that your holiday campaigns are optimally targeted. Even if you don’t become a client, we can answer your questions.  Call us at +1 888-964-3498 or contact our programmatic ad team online. We’ll get back quickly, and we won’t give you a “hard sell.”

Start Here: Programmatic Advertising Basics

This month and next, you will find programmatic in action on Facebook, Google, (Facebook-owned) Instagram and Amazon, among other places. What is programmatic advertising? Check out Programmatic Advertising: How It Works For Businesses for the fundamentals.

In a nutshell, programmatic is a way for you to show your ads to the right people at the right time. Ad-buying no longer has to be limited to pre-chosen inventory. You have ways to tailor your messages to the people you want to reach. Not only that, but thanks to automation, you can scale campaigns and find your audiences on thousands of websites sites. 

Yes, Christmas is right around the corner. But it’s not too late to get with the program(matic) this holiday season.

96 percent of consumers are doing holiday shopping online. Image courtesy of the Match2One 2019 Holiday Season Marketing Guide

Programmatic Levels The Playing Field

Major brands are already discounting their products in advance of Christmas. All the major online retailers like Amazon, Walmart and Best Buy are dropping prices to lure shoppers.

Is your business ready to make the most of the holiday season? Or will the big retailers get all the attention?

Programmatic is a holiday gift to retailers, making it easier than ever to get in front of the right customers at the right time with the right message. The ability to deliver digital ads in real time completely changes ecommerce. It also allows you (the small and medium-sized business owner) to compete against the huge retailers and e-tailers.

Target Holiday Shoppers With Granular Data

For better or worse, personal data has become easier than ever to obtain, thanks to third-party datasets from providers like providers like Nielsen, TowerData, comScore, or Acxiom (or directly from the publisher). This data allows you to target your marketing messages by things like age, gender, occupation and income. 

Contextual data, for example, is based on the device ID (on a specific device) or IP address (in a specific geographic place) and is determined at the time the ad is loaded (time of day).  

Coupled with the capabilities of demand-side platforms (DSPs), businesses like yours can use this targeted approach to promote the right content to the right people at the right time. DSPs allow businesses to push general information to top-of-funnel searchers and to target “hot leads” (bottom-of-funnel searchers) with stronger calls to action.

DMP, meet DSP

Internal data management platforms (DMPs) allow your business to take full advantage of first-party data and allow it to be shared more broadly with media partners. For example, DMPs, in combination with programmatic DSPs, can enable lookalike targeting at scale. This helps your brand grow an audience and generate more holiday sales. 

Your Holiday Campaigns Can Leverage All This (And More)

  • Sequential messaging. Programmatic lets you show ads in a specific order to individual users. This means you can tailor your ads to each stage of their journey as they do their holiday shopping online.
  • Dynamic creative. Tired of updating your ads when offers change? You can save time by setting up your seasonal campaigns at once, showing creatives with this weeks offer now, then automatically changing those creatives to next week’s offer when the time comes.
  • Programmatic geotargeting. This holiday season, real-world stores will be targeting customers online when they are physically nearby. Connecting online behavior to offline visits is a massive benefit to programmatic. Noah Everist, digital strategy director at the Goodway Group, says that by “serving in-store promotions or product-specific ads to consumers within the perimeter of their store locations, advertisers can target those most likely to interact.”
  • Custom triggers. If one person has visited your Instagram page and read a few of your blog articles, you may want to show him or her an ad that’s different from an ad you show someone who has never heard of your rand. Thanks to programmatic’s granular data , you can do exactly that!
  • Content marketing support. Programmatic media buys reinforce your content marketing campaigns through targeting and retargeting holiday shoppers (again, based on custom triggers you set up).
  • Cost benefits. Generally, programmatic media buys cost less on a CPM basis than traditional display. Automated bidding through DSPs ensure that you only buy inventory within your defined value range. The ability to control budget parameters also allows you to control spend, even in real-time.

Not All Programmatic Platforms Are Created Equal

All platforms offer their own respective strengths and weaknesses. Facebook, for instance, offers more limited media buys within their “walled garden” of apps. But they leverage the best source of personal interest data, making them perfect for discovering and refining top-of-funnel audience segments.

Amazon DSP (formerly the Amazon Advertising Platform), on the other hand, accesses possibly the largest store of consumer path-to-purchase data. This data provides advertisers with precisely targeted audiences ready to take action at the bottom-of-funnel.

Getting Your Programmatic Advertising Ducks in a Row

You’ll need to make sure you do a few things as you set up your holiday campaign. These steps include:

Identify your campaign goals. You need to have one clear goal with your holiday campaign. Typically it’s one of two things:

  • Driving traffic (increasing your reach to your target audience )
  • Driving conversions ( making a sale or getting users to submit their information)

Set your budget and bidding strategy. You can program spending limits into your campaign over a given time frame, including setting the maximum budget you’re willing to spend during that time. Once your spend hits that amount, the ad or campaign will be paused until that time frame is up, at which point the campaign will keep running until your budget has been used up.

This helps to ensure the longevity of your campaigns by programming them to stay within your budget at all times. 

If your optimization analysis illustrates that a certain strategy is working well, then allowing that to go uncapped, within reason, can often be beneficial.

Black Friday is the biggest conversion event of the year. Image courtesy of the Match2One 2019 Holiday Season Marketing Guide

“Programmatic CPM prices tend to increase during November leading up to Christmas due to increased competition,” says Ted Sahlstrom, Head of Marketing and Co-Founder at Match2One, a self-service programmatic advertising platform. “But so do conversion rates and order values, since shoppers are out actively looking for deals. 

‘My advice to ecommerce businesses is to increase their campaign CPC/CPA goals by 10-20 percent, and increase their media budget by 50-200 percent, depending on what sales goals are set,” he says.

Incidentally, Match2One has an excellent 2019 Holiday Season Marketing Guide, which we recommend.

Prepare relevant creatives, including banner ads and landing pages. With your campaign goal in mind, make sure every aspect of the creative sets expectations and inspires action. 

Again with your campaign goal in mind, keep the copy on your landing pages simple and actionable to give the user a sense of immediacy and excitement. Communicate the holiday campaign incentives.

Remember: In 2019, consumers are using their smartphones more than ever to research products, compare prices, and make purchases. Therefore, you should keep mobile in mind and use cross-browser testing to see how your page renders in different browsers.

“A prerequisite is that ad creatives and landing pages are prepared to fit the demand of shoppers looking for discount deals on gifts during Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas,” Ted explains

Measure KPIS. Establish benchmarks, measure constantly, test, learn and adapt your strategy. While programmatic media buys have broadened marketers’ capabilities, many companies still struggle to measure the incremental reach and effectiveness of their campaigns.

Have More Questions?

This year has six fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas than in 2018. It’s not too late to make the most of a short holiday sales season. And as always, if you need more information or if you have questions about your specific business, you can reach us at 1 888-964-3498 or by clicking here. We are here to help!

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