Even though programmatic has been around since the early 90’s, there still seems to be a lot of ambiguity around when and how to introduce this approach to your digital marketing mix. While it’s not a perfect science, we’ve boiled it down to three simple questions to determine whether expanding into programmatic might make sense for your brand.

1) Are you looking to expand brand awareness?

But are you REALLY? If you’re going to be evaluating success strictly off of last-click conversion metrics, this might not be the tactic for you. While tactics like programmatic can absolutely contribute to the overall success of your marketing efforts by improving program holistic conversion rates, it’s unlikely to ever be a last-click golden child. Consider your comfort level with evaluating performance agnostic of channel, introducing a new attribution model, or looking at programmatic-specific KPIs before you decide to proceed.

Now you might be asking, why should brand awareness matter in the first place? If a tactic can’t give me an explicit return, why would I invest there? Well, the golden nugget here is understanding that while the return may not be explicit in your attribution model, it will certainly impact overall success in the form of increased brand recognition and recall, while also providing valuable audience insights – all which are likely to improve conversion rates. According to a RedC study, 82% of consumers favor brands they’re familiar with when searching online, meaning that if you’re a brand looking to capture net new consumers, you should be finding ways to familiarize them with your brand before the moment in which they specifically need your product or service. The beauty of programmatic is that it will allow you to do this alongside your consumers’ normal online experiences – I call this the modern day billboard effect.

2) Have you evaluated your current program for testing and growth opportunities?

Specifically, if your brand has minimal experience with top of funnel prospecting, we always recommend testing channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Display Network, or YouTube first. The outcome of those tests will likely provide a good baseline for audience response and help you determine whether programmatic is a smart next step.

All this said, let’s say you saw only mediocre results when testing with other TOFU tactics. Be sure to further evaluate that performance in a way that gets to the root issue. For example, have you tested multiple creative approaches? Have you introduced new audience segments, or gotten strategic with your targeting requirements? If not, start there! You might learn that LinkedIn performs better than Facebook but you’re still not able to reach as many people as you’d like. In this case, perhaps programmatic could work well, but you’d want to align your creative and targeting more closely with what saw success on LinkedIn vs. what your Facebook strategy looked like.

3)  Is programmatic going to contribute to your strategy in a way that other channels can’t?

Okay…so maybe this one isn’t as simple as a “Yes” or “No.” However, the beauty of programmatic lies in its ability to target audiences in a way walled gardens like Google or Facebook cannot. If you don’t plan to get thoughtful with your targeting, audience building, and inventory considerations, then your investment might be better suited to GDN where things are a bit less complicated.

The important thing to keep in mind here is that you don’t necessarily need to be able to answer this question on your own. Unlike search and social where only a few big players exist, in the world of programmatic, there are a multitude of partners and platforms worth considering–many of which have unique capabilities and access to first party data that can absolutely enhance your overall strategy. Navigating this landscape on your own for the first time can be daunting, which is why partnering with experts in programmatic audience data, technology, assurance, and execution is critical until you’ve gained more primary knowledge of it yourself.

If you felt confident answering “YES!” to these three starting questions, you are likely ready to test programmatic. If you answered “no” at any point, it probably makes more sense to consider further testing before taking the plunge. As with any marketing strategy, there is no one size fits all, but we think these three key considerations will shed valuable light on whether or not you’re ready to test the waters! Contact us if you’re interested in learning more about programmatic strategy.