Programmatic or search engine marketing (SEM)? Clients often ask us which to use for promoting their products and services. It actually shouldn’t be an either-or decision. The two can work together very effectively as part of an integrated campaign. But each has strengths.
SEM, formerly commonly known as Google AdWords, involves bidding on key words that describe your products or services so that your website appears at the top of the search results. SEM works great if somebody is already looking for an item. This is a good short-term strategy.
The thing is, SEM campaigns are reactive. Programmatic digital advertising campaigns, on the other hand, are proactive.
Programmatic campaigns reach consumers who could be interested in purchasing your products but might be unaware they even exist. This involves finding those individuals using demographic, geographic and other data, as well as their interests, based on online behavior.
Let’s say, for example, you’re a car buff and like to customize your automobile, but you never knew tricked-out brake caliper covers, painted in eye-catching colors, was an option. However, since we, your digital marketing partner, know you’re of a certain age and income level, and interested in cars and maybe aftermarket auto products, we can target you to receive a digital ad for the covers.
Highly creative ad formats that incorporate video or other interactive elements make the advertisement even more intriguing and impactful – something else search advertising can’t deliver. Attention grabbing ad formats greatly increase the odds that the consumer will click through to the website to learn more.
Here’s an example of how programmatic digital advertising can work. One of our clients sells aftermarket auto parts. You guessed it — custom brake caliper covers. Certain models were selling well, for example caliper covers for Mustangs, Explorers and Expeditions.
Turns out the company can make covers for any make and model of car. Therefore, it made sense to expand the market beyond just those best sellers. There were a lot of car owners out there for whom custom caliper covers were not even on the radar screen, but who would be interested if they knew about them.
We launched a programmatic digital campaign to target consumers who could be interested in custom caliper covers and served them engaging ads. After running the digital advertising campaign for several months, our client noticed that the number of different models they were getting inquiries about was spiking. In fact, consumers were requesting about 50 percent more models than before the campaign.
In other words, programmatic digital advertising had opened up valuable new market segments for the client. There were a couple of surprises as well. Jayson Hotell, marketing director for MGP Caliper Covers reported that VW Jetta owners turned out to be a surprisingly strong market for them – not exactly what comes to mind when you think of custom cars.
“Cook + Schmid brought in a broader audience of people (through a targeted programmatic buy) who probably never heard of us,” said Hotell. “We were previously targeting low hanging fruit. But there were a lot of different vehicles we couldn’t target. Once Cook + Schmid launched their program, it was pretty punk rock. The guys in the back were like “oh crap now we have to make all these new models.””
More work for the guys on the factory floor, but not a bad problem to have if you’re the marketing manager or the owner of the company.
If you need a primer on programmatic digital media buying, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.