5 ways to improve the success of your programmatic advertising campaign

5 ways to improve the success of your programmatic advertising campaign

With digital advertising spend predicted to grow by 4.7% in 2018, according to WARC, brands must focus on improving the performance of their campaigns if they want to outclass the competition. As brands allocate more and more budget to advertising, it’s a common expectation that such campaigns will deliver an increased return on investment. However, it takes more than just money to make a success of programmatic advertising and relies on brands optimising their campaigns to get the most for their money.

But what do successful digital advertising results actually look like? Well, that all depends on your objective. Are you trying to drive more direct sales? Maybe you want to retarget previous visitors? Or perhaps build brand awareness? Your answer to the question; ‘what is my ad trying to achieve?’, will determine the way in which you measure success. Click through rate (CTR) can be a useful metric to track, particularly if you’re seeking sales conversions. For that same reason, conversion rate is also important. But clicks and conversions are not the be-all and end-all of campaign success. If brand awareness is your goal, it can be equally important to generate large volumes of lasting impressions that will inspire your audience to use your brand at a later date.

Whatever success metric you choose to look at, there are actions you can take to optimise your campaigns to achieve greater results. The following 5 tips are our top picks for optimising programmatic advertising campaigns to generate more clicks and create lasting impressions with your audience.


First things first, who are you actually hoping to reach with your adverts? A fundamental step in successful programmatic advertising is developing precise and relevant targeting that will allow you to reach the people you want to reach, your ideal customers. The different elements you could consider when building a target for your display campaign depend on the data you have access to, but could include the following:

  • Demographics – Some common sub-categories you can use include age, gender, location, income, marital status, education etc.
  • Interests – An interest could be anything, even something as broad as shopping. You may then drill down further to find a person that is interested in shopping for homeware, specifically for the kitchen, creating a much more specific segment.
  • Lookalike audiences – Use what you know about your existing customers from website and CRM data to match potential new customers with similar attributes for prospecting.
  • Second and third party data – Second party data is another company’s data which could be bought to complement first party data. Third party data is purchased from an external provider. (Read more about the different types of data here)

You can choose to build your audience using as many filters as you like, but of course the more refined your target, the smaller and more limited your reach will be. The key is to get the right balance between relevance and having a large enough audience pool to generate a substantial reach for your ad.

But it’s not enough to simply choose your target, run your campaign and sit back and wait for results. The true value in targeting comes from analysing results in real-time, to identify which elements are working and which aren’t, and then optimising accordingly. For example, if certain targeting lines aren’t working, remove spend from there and put it into one that is.

The attributes of your chosen audience should then dictate the choices you make elsewhere in your strategy. Be responsive to the group you’re targeting and adapt campaign elements to match them. In doing so, you’ll reduce the likelihood of creating ‘ad blindness’ (when an audience either consciously or subconsciously ignores banner ads), which usually occurs when ads are irrelevant and untargeted.


In the age of data-driven marketing, you’d be excused for thinking that creatives no longer have a significant role in programmatic advertising. When in reality, the creatives you use for your display advertising campaigns are as important as ever, and done well, can have a huge influence over how your audience reacts to your content. A well designed, cleverly crafted, creative advert can make the difference between grabbing your audience’s attention and engaging them, or not leaving any impression.

Your creative, be it static (flat image) or rich media (animation or video), should showcase your brand, visual identity, product and personality. Make sure you use a variety of ads (don’t keep displaying the same advert over and over again), and most importantly, be consistent with the landing page you are trying to drive people to. One of the biggest mistakes a brand can make is creating beautiful visual designs that have no correlation to what they are advertising. In doing so, they create a confusing customer journey which impacts the overall customer experience.

Shopomo Example Display Ad Creative 1Shopomo Example Display Ad Creative 2

When running any creatives, always make sure to test different variations using A/B testing. What works with one client or customer group won’t necessarily work for another, so to increase the likelihood of success, make sure you’re trying alternatives to find out what performs best.


Messaging works in very much the same way as creatives. When developing messaging and writing copy for your ads, make sure you focus precisely on the target, using language and a tone of voice that will appeal to them. And once again, the key to getting messaging right is testing. Ad success can’t be subjective and so you must use your data as much as possible to inform your decisions.

Some different routes you could take with your messaging include:

  • Creativity and humour – use puns and witty references to engage audiences.
  • Simplicity – keep to the point to deliver the message clearly.
  • Proof – include reviews and quotes from existing customers to instil trust.
  • USPs – highlight the unique selling point of your product/service.
  • Urgency – include timeframes to create a sense of demand

When deciding on the different messaging routes you want to take for each ad, make sure that the copy matches the creative. The user experience should be consistent to have the greatest chance of generating engagement.

Call to action (CTA)

Are you prospecting or retargeting? Trying to sell a product or simply want to increase awareness of your brand? Your call to action should be customised to reflect the objective of your digital advertising campaign. It is the fundamental link between your ad and your website, so it needs to be enticing, relevant and desirable if you want your audience to take a chance and click on it.

Shopomo Example Display Ad CTAFor sales-driven campaigns, you may want to consider using a strong and more direct CTA (e.g. buy now, shop now, click here). For a branding campaign, you can afford to make it slightly softer – try and make it tempting, but not overcomplicated. After all, no matter what your objective is, you want to make it as simple as possible for your audience to identify the desired action.

Create a number of variations that use different copy, colours (colour psychology principles outline how colours influence people differently) and even alternative placement, where possible. Once again, test them against each other to find out which is the most effective with each of your target groups before deciding on the best performing combination to move forward with. (Check out our eBook ‘The marketer’s guide to the perfect CTA’ for more tips)


We’ve all heard the phrase “timing is everything” and programmatic advertising is no exception. There are a number of different considerations with regards to how you time your ads.

  1. Time of day – The time of day that you run your ads is hugely important and what you choose depends on various factors. Do you see any trends for when people engage? For example, theoretically, you may see more engagement with adverts selling B2B products during working hours, whilst B2C may be more successful after work and on weekends. Whilst eCommerce brands may see more engagement around payday and travel brands mid-week. Spread your budget over different times of the day and month to see which generates the most engagement and then adjust spend accordingly to maximise your budgets.
  2. Frequency – Ad frequency dictates the speed of impressions (how often individuals see your adverts). For prospecting these need to be evenly spread. It’s no good setting a cap of 10 impressions per user but delivering them all within 5 minutes. They need to be spread out to build engagement over time and prevent prospects from being bombarded by your ads. Showing too many, too quickly, can be annoying and cause banner blindness. You need to find the sweet spot.
  3. Recency – Relating to how quickly you show an ad to a user after they have visited your website, used for retargeting purposes to re-engage visitors and drive them back to your site. As more time passes since their initial site visit, frequency should come into play and be amended based on how engaged they currently are with your brand and adverts.

You should consider all elements of timing for every campaign, and continually analyse each.

Digital advertising success is the sum of its parts – of which there are many. To ensure each element of your programmatic campaign hits the mark, there’s no question of the importance of optimisation. From targeting through to timing and design, every decision must be backed by real-time data to truly maximise advertising budgets and achieve objectives, whether that be clicks, conversions or impressions. The role of a Media Trader is dedicated to optimising towards all of the above and is fundamental to boosting performance.

For brands looking to reap the benefits of advertising even further, they must also ensure that optimisation continues onsite, so as to create a seamless customer journey from ad impression through to website landing pages and checkout. Advertising success goes far beyond the advert itself and must encompass the full digital experience to have the greatest impact.

Find out how Ve use a unique combination of intent and conversion data to develop digital advertising campaigns that spark awareness interest and action.

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Posted by Emily Atkinson