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How to Maximize Programmatic as a Mid-Market Brand

Why Programmatic is for All Brands, Regardless of Size Programmatic advertising can seem intimidating for small and mid-market brands.

Happy Shopper

Published on

Sep 14, 2021

Written by

Direct Digital Holdings



How to Maximize Programmatic as a Mid-Market Brand

Why Programmatic is for All Brands, Regardless of Size 

Programmatic advertising can seem intimidating for small and mid-market brands. Do I need my own real-time bidder? Do I need to purchase a license for a demand side platform (DSP)? Don’t I need to spend at least $1 million to make programmatic advertising worth it? Do we need an internal data science team or programmatic experts to help us determine who to target? 

Actually, programmatic advertising is beneficial to all brands, regardless of size or media budget. Why? Because programmatic combines market research and advertising into a single process, letting you understand the exact audiences who are most interested in your products and services, along with the best creatives and scenarios (channel, time of day) to pique that interest. 

And, that insight is market tested. You’ll identify your best audiences, channel partners and creatives based on daily results, and can optimize your campaign criteria based on what you see. 

Once you understand who is responding to your campaign, which channels and dayparts deliver the strongest performance, as well as the creatives that get the most clicks, you’ll be able to drive media efficiency and campaign results. In other words, you’ll know who to target, and can stop wasting your media dollars on consumers who’ll never convert. 

Programmatic to the Rescue 

During the pandemic and lockdowns, many mom-and-pop shops and smaller brands struggled to survive, with many losing ground to big box stores. But programmatic advertising helped many small businesses to recover because it allowed them to home in on their exact audiences at a local level. 

By eliminating the guesswork of who to target, small businesses were able to pinpoint the audiences most likely to respond and drive traffic to their websites and brick-and-mortar stores. 

Finding the Right Partner 

We get it that as a small business owner, you don’t have time to get into the weeds of programmatic, but with the right partner, you really don’t need to. There are performance marketing companies, such as Huddled Masses, who specialize in working with mid-market brands and can set up, execute, optimize and report on your programmatic campaigns on your behalf. 

The right programmatic partner will handle all aspects of your campaigns, including: 

  • Omni-Channel Campaigns. The right partner can reach your audience wherever they are, whether that’s on display, video, and CTV.

  • Campaign Set-up. It’s important to work with a partner who knows exactly how to set up campaigns for success, focusing on gathering the right audience data, targeting criteria, brand safety measures, site tagging, and KPI tracking.

  • Ad trafficking. Programmatic advertising is never one-and-done. You need a partner who knows how to optimize your channel, bid and creative strategies on an ongoing basis.

  • Real-Time Reporting and Analytics. Real-time reporting and analytics are critical to validating your campaign assumptions, uncovering hidden pockets of demand, and identifying issues and opportunities while the campaign is live. A good partner will provide reports and analytics that help you understand who your audience is and the best ways to engage them.

Understand your Customer 

Who is most likely to be interested in your product or service? Some of your audiences may be intuitive, but others may be rather surprising. For instance, a TV network assumed that the audience for its college volleyball playoffs would attract a college-student audience, but by using programmatic to test that assumption, it discovered that its audience was much broader. To find hidden audiences, dedicate a small portion of your programmatic budget -- say 5% -- to random targeting, and see who responds. 

Build Personas 

One way to understand your best audiences is to look at the attributes of your high-performing customers and use that insight to build customer personas. Let’s say you’re a Health & Wellness brand that sells a wide range of supplements. Some of your customers may be pregnant women, others may be body-building men, still others may be people who are concerned about aging. By creating unique personas based on past purchases and audience-data overlays, you can create unique messaging for each, and identify the best channels to reach and engage them. 

Lookalike Modeling 

Once you’ve created your personas, you can then target people who look like them to build your upper sales funnel. Vetted third-party sources will help you reach consumers who are wholly new to your brand at scale. For instance, if you discover through your analysis that pregnant women prefer organic supplements, you can target other women who have an interest in organic products and visit sites geared towards parenting. 

Moving Forward with Programmatic Advertising 

How much are you willing to invest against getting the word out about your brand and your products? The answer depends on how much you’re willing to invest in the long-term health of your company. 

Many smaller brands invest the bulk of their marketing budgets in Paid Search campaigns. This is an understandable move as it means competing for consumers who are actively in the market for a product you sell. But that competition is fierce, and consequently, the costs are high. It also concentrates your budget on the lower parts of the sales funnel, but it’s your upper funnel that will ultimately allow you to build your business over the long term. 

Programmatic advertising allows you to test the market and tweak and optimize your investment along the way. What’s more, it can be absolutely performance driven (i.e., targeting consumers who are actively in market for a product or service), as well as build your upper funnel by raising brand awareness. 

Programmatic offers the best of all worlds, which is why it has a role in every marketer’s plan, regardless of market size. 

Interested in learning more about programmatic advertising? Get in touch


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