Programmatic advertising isn’t the new kid on the block anymore – by the end of 2021, 88% of all digital display marketing in the U.S. is expected to be done through programmatic advertising. But it can still be a perplexing tactic, especially for B2B brands that are used to buying ads directly in industry trade publications. So, before we dive into how we used programmatic advertising to reach a client’s target audience, let’s answer a simple question: what exactly is programmatic advertising?
Programmatic advertising uses website data and advanced targeting methods to serve online ads. Perhaps most importantly, the algorithms and machine learning that power programmatic advertising make it a scalable and cost-efficient approach.
There are several targeting options, including:
Our client MHS, a material handling system supplier, had primarily placed their digital ads directly on industry trade publication websites. While this is a tried-and-true method for B2B companies, these placements typically cost more – known for having a higher cost per thousand impressions (CPM) – because of the confirmed placement those platforms provide.
However, not all decision-makers frequent trade publications’ websites, and they definitely don’t limit their online browsing to those sites exclusively. So, to expand their reach and increase brand awareness, we worked with MHS to develop a programmatic advertising strategy.
We started by focusing on users located in the U.S. and then added data segments that would reach those users based on demographic data. We segmented further by target job titles, target industries and attendance at relevant trade shows, among others. We utilized contextual targeting to place our ads on websites with content related to MHS, like supply chain management and warehouse systems. Then we also retargeted users who had previously visited the MHS website.
There are several options for the types of ad creative you can use in programmatic campaigns, but we elected to exclusively use display ads.
In similar B2B programmatic campaigns, an average click-through rate (CTR) of 0.17% is typical, but in the first six months of the MHS campaign, we generated a 0.23% average CTR. Bounce rates are usually higher from programmatic traffic compared to other direct sources, often averaging around 90% while you optimize the campaign towards the right users. Our MHS campaign quickly beat that average with a bounce rate of 76%.
What’s better? We produced those results at a significantly lower cost than similar campaigns, which typically average a $6 to $7 cost per click (CPC). We achieved a CPC of just $3.35. The opportunity to reach additional audiences at a low cost becomes even more apparent in comparison to the $15 to $45 CPC typical for MHS’ trade publication advertising.
As we learn more from the data about our audience, we continue to refine our existing segments and optimize our strategies. For example, as greater brand awareness is established, we’ve shifted towards more actionable messaging, adding thought leadership ads to our retargeting audience, positioning MHS as an authority in the space to potentially convert users into leads.