6 Ways SMBs Can Take Better Advantage of Programmatic Ad Buying

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Automated advertising solutions that simplify media buying seem like they would be right up the small business owner’s alley, however it’s still much more common for national marketers to utilize programmatic advertising than independent merchants.

Programmatic digital display ad spending is expected to grow 49.5 percent this year to $15.43 billion, according to eMarketer. Most small business owners don’t realize they can take advantage of programmatic buying to reach consumers based on their location and devices, regardless of which publishers or websites they’re visiting.

“For SMBs, programmatic technology is a great equalizer. It gives local shops the tools to compete with the big players,” explains Ratko Vidakovic, vice president of programmatic at Centro. “If used intelligently by combining efficient and effective tactics like hyperlocal mobile targeting, retargeting, and contextual targeting, great results can be achieved with a very modest investment.”

Here are six strategies that small and medium-sized businesses can use to take full advantage of programmatic ad buying.

1. Use programmatic for lead generation. “Lead generation is critical to small and mid-size businesses, and it’s a challenge to scale beyond search on a limited budget. However, programmatic effectively and efficiently finds target audiences wherever and whenever they’re online across desktop and mobile devices. Programmatic audience-based buying with full transparency gives insight into pricing, sites, and tactics, allowing the small business owner to know what works, why, and how much it costs.” (Paul Dean, DataXu)

2. Take advantage of contextual targeting. “The rise of programmatic has ushered in the era of audience-based and contextual targeting methods. One particular form of audience-based buying — retargeting — has become a staple. It allows advertisers to target people who visited their website once, but never came back, bringing them back into the sales funnel. Contextual targeting allows local advertisers to target anyone within the vicinity that happens to be visiting a webpage about a specific topic, like golf, investments, or parenting. What’s very appealing is that all of these tactics are highly cost-effective, which should mean a lot for local merchants who don’t have big brand budgets.” (Ratko Vidakovic, Centro)

3. Leverage data and programmatic creatives. “To get the most from their campaign dollars, local businesses should consider leveraging data and programmatic creatives. Data can be applied to programmatic campaigns to identify and target relevant audiences, while programmatic creatives can be tailored and personalized in real time based on the consumer and other elements such as the content they are consuming, the weather, or the time of day.” (Jennifer Lum, Adelphic)

4. Don’t attempt a DIY approach. “To engage with the best technology vendors and utilize their tools most effectively, businesses need to either invest in the talent that can manage the complexity in-house or hire a full-service agency with the relationships, talent, and competencies to deliver the best results. Given the current state of the industry, I find it hard to recommend self-service tech platforms for SMBs. Would you go to a self-service dentistry clinic? I didn’t think so.” (Yariv Drori, MultiView)

5. Reach customers in close proximity to competitors. “Across media in ad exchanges, about half of mobile inventory is location-aware. GPS information from individual mobile devices provides the exact location of consumers, so marketers can target based on coordinates and radius. As a use case, a pizza chain in Los Angeles can now automatically reach pedestrians within 150 yards of any of its 10 locations. Peet’s Coffee can target neighboring Starbucks locations nationwide. With many local businesses seeking foot traffic — and nearly all consumers carrying smartphones — the ability to target prospects who are within a few blocks of their location is very compelling.” (Ratko Vidakovic, Centro)

6. Scale messaging to target new, current, or lapsed customers. “Programmatic allows small and mid-sized businesses to scale their messaging, specific to new, current, and lapsed customers. SMBs can use win-back offers for lapsed customers, and trade up or cross-sell to current customers. Additionally, programmatic marketing provides small-to-mid-size businesses with a way to scale their reach beyond finite publisher-by-publisher audiences that may or may not have the business’ best prospects as readers.” (Paul Dean, DataXu)

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.