An Exploratory Look at the Future of Programmatic Search

Post by Jon Campbell, Senior Media Manager and Shawn Meade, Senior Media Manager Today, the word “programmatic” is a widely discussed topic, varying from the actual definition to how advertisers can leverage it to improve consumer reach. All this hype comes with good cause: According to eMarketer, automated ads will account for nearly 50% of the U.S. digital display market in 2015, and nearly 60% in 2016. Looking at the investment in spend alone, it’s clear buyers and sellers are experiencing large benefits from programmatic media. This post will look at the future implications of programmatic for a specific channel, search marketing. post1 Programmatic + Data Opens New Doors One of the most talked about topics of programmatic media resides in the data. Search marketers already have immense focus on data to make day-to-day decisions. However, our data is limited. Without utilizing data such as re-marketing lists, standard search campaigns are limited to location, language and device targeting. Programmatic allows marketers to use data previously unavailable. Companies are beginning to incorporate data management platforms (DMPs) and consumer relationship management (CRM) data into their search programs, opening up more granular targeting. Once this foundation is in place, the question becomes, how do we fully leverage the data? This evolution in consumer information and thinking will require search marketers to step into the shoes of a data scientist and develop new skill sets to analyze and develop messaging to reach brand goals. Re-thinking Search Marketing & Multi-channel Efforts Data is becoming smarter, allowing search marketers to track consumer behavior across channels and devices. Right now, data is harnessed to approach search marketing as a multi-channel strategy. Yet in the future, strategies must evolve into a channel-agnostic approach and focus on marketing through the lens of the consumer. Consumers don’t consciously go about their buying process in a channel approach, and search marketers must also adopt this way of thinking. Media plans should not be about investing in specific channels, but instead should be about investing in individual consumers. This shift in thinking will change how media dollars are allocated, and search should move beyond how it is typically viewed. Some CMOs have the misconception that search is a lower-priority direct response marketing channel that targets consumers who are lower in the funnel. But search is able to play many different roles and will continue to build in importance as marketers are able to layer granular consumer insights and targeting with personalized messaging across the consumer journey. Becoming More Personalized As the role of search evolves to fit into a channel-agnostic media approach, so will the role of messaging delivered to the consumer. Ad messaging will be extremely tailored to each consumer and address specific points in the decision-making journey. Messaging will no longer be generic ad copy delivered to everyone who is served an ad, or just tailored messaging delivered to customers within remarketing lists. It will instead be ad copy that dynamically serves an engaging message informed by all of the consumer insight data available.  Marketers in essence will be taking on a role of a “storyteller,” interjecting a message that resonates with consumers at moments that matter. Illustrating the Future of Programmatic So what might the search process and the resulting ad look like in the future of programmatic? Suppose a customer just viewed a brand’s sales event commercial on their Smart TV. They then decide to do a search for the brand on their TV which is connected over Wi-Fi to the internet. As search marketers with consumer data, we know this person has been exposed to the brand’s commercial “X” many times in the past 7 days, and has visited the brand’s website “X” days ago where they engaged most with the interior picture gallery. Search marketers also know from CRM data that this person is an existing brand customer. As a result, the person is served a video search ad showcasing new brand features with messaging, calling-out specific sale specials to their previous purchase. While this is a hypothetical example, the future of programmatic is definitely a game changer for search. The future means understanding how to dissect consumer data, tailor messaging to a newly targeted audience and recognize how other channels will impact search programs. It will be an adaptive effort to assure programmatic efforts are maximized to drive the most return for search marketing.

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