How to Fail with Programmatic in 2018

Alex Smith  /  
January 9, 2018

It’s impossible to win with programmatic, or that’s what I hear. Despite advances in technology, better understanding of attribution, more flexibility in presentation and deeper inventory, programmatic is still seen as a risk even among the most senior marketers.

Here are the top 4 ways to fail with programmatic this year:

Number 1 way to fail: Go with a black-box solution

“I turned off all paid media after trying programmatic.” I recently heard this from a prospective client. She felt that she had no insight into where her Digital Media budget went and that her agency had scammed her. When I asked what type of attribution model they were using to measure the impact and effectiveness of display and the audiences they were targeting, she didn’t know. She had no visibility at all into how her solution was working, or if it was working at all.

woman with paint blocking her eyes

I feel her pain and the pain of many customers who have been burned in the past; however, I don’t recommend turning off all paid media! Instead find an agency who uses a transparent attribution and purchasing model who can walk you through their plan each step of the way. That will give you the most honest data and provide you the information you need to take action.

Number 2 way to fail: Stay with your last click attribution model

I speak to customers everyday who were measuring prospecting with Programmatic Display on the old and comfortable last click attribution model. This is a guaranteed way to blow your marketing budget and gain zero insight into which marketing efforts converted.

this way sign on wooden fence

Prospecting with Programmatic Display is a high-funnel brand awareness model, that should be measured on a first click or first impression (or better yet, data-driven attribution model if you utilize Google Analytics 360). If you simply score display as you do its lower funnel cousin retargeting, all the credit will go to retargeting. This leads marketers to invest more in retargeting when display was actually working!

Number 3 way to fail: Don’t invest in Creative

At a recent Google conference, I heard a great stat, “90% of all Display spend goes to reach with only 10% going to creative, yet 80% of what drives customer acquisition is their attraction to creative.”

Obviously, you want to reach as many high value audiences as possible with your budget. But if you reach the right audience with the wrong message, you are effectively throwing away your budget. Quality over quantity should be a staple for any marketing campaign, especially a dynamically creative one that serves thousands of iterations of your ad.

Final way to fail: Don’t invest in Programmatic Display

It’s scary, you may have tried it with a small test budget and failed in the past. But don’t give up yet!

The brands who are investing in Programmatic with a foundation of clean trustworthy data, high-value audiences in their scopes, and the correct attribution models in place are poised to capture market share in 2018. You must give programmatic enough of a shot to prove itself, not only enough to fail.

Of course, if you do the opposite of all our ways to fail, you may do the impossible: Win with Programmatic.


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