Pros & Cons of Programmatic Ad Buying

Real-time transactions are enjoying considerable popularity in the realm of digital advertising. Known as programmatic ad buying, the concept relies upon computer algorithms buying and selling ad space on the fly.

This sounds like a wonderful idea if you’re trying to hit a given audience at a particular time, particularly when married to dynamic ads (or personalized content) for your prospective targets.

But like so many good things, there are challenges as well.

Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of programmatic ad buying.

First, the positives…

Employs real-time data

Because buying is done in real-time, your placements happen immediately as well.

This is great for an advertiser, since you can minimize the possibility of buying the wrong traffic, because users can be directly matched to the targeted data you provide. For instance, let’s say you are trying to garner interest in your premium gaming app.

You can deliver real-time ads to potential users in another app who are likely to download your game. This results in considerable cost savings and a better return on your advertising investment.

Outstanding efficiency

With programmatic, as we mentioned above, you set the exact criteria you want to target, whether it’s geographic, certain devices, a specific demographic, or all of the above.

The algorithm will find users meeting your parameters and place ads in front of them. You can also set a cost budget to prevent overspends—as the system will work to find the audience you’ve prescribed, within the budget parameters you set.

The algorithms can also be instructed to find the most affordable space for your targeted audience. Because it’s all done machine to machine, you’re freed of the need to negotiate the rate.

Narrowly-focused targeting

The specificity with which you can focus your efforts is quite remarkable. In fact, some mobile marketing platforms offer targeting based on users who are most likely to engage within an app.

This means your ad will be narrowly focused on acquiring users who create a profile on day one, pay for premium or make in-app purchases rather than just download an app. This isn’t just programmatic ad buying, it’s a smarter approach to mobile marketing in general.

And now, the negatives…

Fraud potential

Because there is no direct interaction between the publisher and you, many experts feel it’s somehow easier for the publisher to deliver “bot” traffic, as opposed to real people.

In programmatic’s defense, this is a possibility in any form of digital advertising. Further, the prime purveyors of programmatic are diligently working on ways to eradicate bot traffic.

Non-viewable ads can be an issue too. Even though they appear to have been placed, they’re buried, never reaching a user, while an unscrupulous publisher claims a placement.

Ad misdirects

Occasionally a publisher will forward an ad to an affiliate entity, where the ad is in fact displayed. However, it doesn’t reach its intended audience.

Known as re-brokering, this can potentially have a harmful effect upon a brand. Consider the consequences of an ad for an adult-oriented product somehow winding up on an app for children.

While it might sound farfetched, it could happen.

Targeting narrowly can be expensive

If you’re looking to focus your messaging with laser-like precision and you’re working with a platform capable of doing so, they know what they have and charge for it accordingly.

To pinpoint “Becky” on her way to a brick-and-mortar store with an ad promoting your ecommerce app, you’ll need to be ready to pay the premium required to do so.

Programmatic is one of the most efficient ways to buy and sell ads yet created. However, just as with every other aspect of life and business, there are upsides to programmatic and there are downsides.

After reviewing the pros and cons of programmatic ad buying here, you’ll need to decide if the attributes outweigh the disconnects for what you’re trying to accomplish.

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