Raise your hand if you understand programmatic marketing.

If you’re raising your hand, you’re among the minority. (You probably also look ridiculous. Put your hand down before anyone sees.)

Although the word “programmatic” has appeared almost everywhere in 2015 (we’re looking at you, Google), companies are still having a hard time defining the concept and figuring out how to blend it into their current marketing strategy.

Today’s your lucky day, though, because we’re going to discuss both.

What is Programmatic Marketing?

Many moons ago, when a business wanted to market a product or service, it sought out an advertising agency. The agency then worked with publishers and radio and TV networks, to place ads in the best places and at the best times for the client’s audience. The agencies wined and dined clients, the publishers wined and dined the agencies and everyone drank a lot of martinis.

It was a time-consuming endeavor, though. Before big data, ad placement took a lot of guesswork, number crunching and late nights building reports from scratch.

Fast forward to 2015 when everything from cars and stocks to electronics and groceries are bought and sold online—and all with little human interaction. Ad space is bought and sold in real time, and data allows for highly sophisticated targeting so businesses can spend their marketing budget in the places it will yield the highest return. Everyone wins and, if you want, you still get your martini.

In other words, programmatic marketing is a fancy, jargon-y way of saying, “marketing done through a machine.” It helps businesses reach the coveted three R’s: right time, right place and right message. This automation of marketing frees up businesses, agencies and publishers from menial tasks like crunching numbers and building reports.

Make sense? Great. Now let’s talk about how to actually do programmatic marketing.

Get to Know Your Personas

We sound like broken records—you can’t get through a Kuno blog post without reading about the importance of buyer personas. There’s a reason for that, though: Personas are critical to every marketing endeavor. If you don’t know the challenges, pain points and habits of your audience, your strategy will have no backbone, your content will be aimless and your advertising will fall on deaf ears.

Programmatic marketing relies entirely on your understanding of your audience. With so many opportunities to target by demographics, behaviors and interests, the more you know about your prospects, the more wisely you can spend your marketing dollars. By defining your personas, and diving into your customer data to adjust these personas accordingly, you can home in on potential leads who fit within these profiles.

Go Beyond Real Time Bidding

When people hear programmatic marketing, they immediately think real-time bidding (RTB). Here’s the thing, though: While all RTB is programmatic, not all programmatic marketing is RTB.

RTB is like the stock market of digital advertising. You can buy and sell impressions in real-time auctions (as the name suggests), usually for video pre-roll, social network advertisements and other types of display ads. It’s an excellent opportunity for companies to purchase advertising inventory in a highly controlled and cost-effective manner, and should be considered for inclusion in your strategy. But there’s more to the programmatic pie.

Programmatic direct is automated ad purchasing without the auction. Instead, you negotiate a rate with ad sellers, but rely on programmatic data to make the best choice. It’s closer to the old-fashioned method explained above, only a thousand times more efficient and with heaps of more reliable data. You can pick and choose the best placement for your ads based on measured impressions, historical data and other helpful information.

Explore Owned, Earned and Paid Opportunities

Another quick assumption is that programmatic marketing only refers to the paid sector of POEM (paid, owned and earned media). While there’s no denying programmatic has taken over paid advertising, there’s still a seat at the programmatic table for owned and earned media.

In terms of owned, brands can now leverage programmatic data when publishing content on channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Brands can collect insights on which types of content and promotions enjoy the greatest engagement, and develop more authentic relationships with prospects. This, in turn, helps drive the earned media that will give your brand social proof prospects seek throughout the buyer’s journey.


Whew. If you’re thinking, “That sure was a lot of buzzwords,” you’re right. Sometimes marketers like to make things difficult for ourselves by creating a ton of confusing jargon and then spend hours debating what it all means. But don’t let the industry-speak turn you off.

At the end of the day, programmatic marketing is a fresh take on an age-old way of doing business. Businesses still want to sell products and services to prospects who enjoy these products and services, and marketers still want to help them achieve this feat in the least expensive and most efficient way possible. Programmatic marketing allows us yet another opportunity to streamline the process and enjoy healthier ROI all around. (Ready to try programmatic marketing? This link will point you in the right direction.)

By allocating resources to both programmatic marketing and content marketing, you’ll poise your business to achieve your goals in 2016 and beyond.