For small-and-medium-sized business marketers, determining how to balance ad spend between premium and programmatic is essential to getting the best return. Both channels have unique benefits and the best approach for most advertisers will be one that integrates them along with other digital tools such as content marketing, native advertising, social media and reputation management.

What Is Programmatic Advertising?

Programmatic advertising leverages real time bidding on ad exchanges to allow an advertiser to target their ads to a user who meets the advertiser’s criteria, regardless of the site the user is on. For example, you want to reach men between 24 and 60 who are into fly fishing and are in a specific zip code. A programmatic ad buy would serve readers your ad, no matter what site they happened to be on, as long as they met this criteria. This happens in a lightning-fast bidding process that runs each time a user arrives at a website that runs network advertising. At its heart, programmatic simply means having machines do the ad buying in real time.

What Is Premium Display Advertising?

Premium online display advertising is inventory directly purchased from a specific publisher. The advertiser is confident the publisher’s audience is in the target demographic, and is also looking for the lift in ad viewing time and engagement that comes when an ad is presented in a premium editorial context. With a direct buy of premium inventory, the advertiser has much more control over where, when and how their ad will be seen.

Thinking About The Mix

When we’re trying to help our customers determine the mix of programmatic, premium and other digital channels, we always start with the campaign goal and its place in the marketing funnel. Brand awareness campaigns for regionally-focused businesses (such as most of our SMB customers are), may benefit from a heavier portion of premium display advertising on trusted local sites. On the other hand, if a businesses is looking to attract customers from other areas, as an event or tourism related campaign may be aiming toward, a heavier mix of programmatic targeted to those zip codes makes sense.

Finally, no matter what the mix you start with, it’s important to set clear goals at the outset of the campaign and measure as you go, tweaking the message, the creative or if necessary the channels themselves to insure you’re getting the most value for your marketing spend.


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