5 Questions you need to ask your agency before paying for programmatic advertising

In the right hands, programmatic advertising can offer many benefits to your marketing strategy. With over 50% of US marketing executives agreeing it is either extremely, or very effective.

In the wrong hands however, your ads could get lost in the miasma of digital advertising on the internet and never seen. Or perhaps even worse your ads could be seen in places that are not aligned with your company values, as was the case for US telecom giant Verizon, who’s ads appeared in extremist/hate-speech videos on YouTube.

So how do you know who has the right hands?

We’ve compiled 5 key questions to ask any potential advertising agency about programmatic advertising before you hand over even a dollar of your precious digital marketing budget.

#1- Can they explain what Programmatic Advertising is?

It’s easy for an agency to sell you on the benefits, but if they are only rattling off 3 letter acronyms and speaking in jargon buzzwords, they might not be the best people to help you. The right agency will be able to break it down for you in a down-to-earth, and relatable way.

Say you were going in for surgery… It’s all well and good for your doctor to tell you how much better you’ll feel without that pesky inflamed appendix, but if they can’t actually explain how and why your appendix needs removing, are you really going to let them near you with a scalpel?

It’s not unreasonable to ask for a little bedside manner from your advertising agency too.


#2 – Do they understand your audience?

One of the key benefits of advertising programmatically, is the ability to specify your target audience so precisely. You obviously have a good grasp of your own target audience, and can pass on the demographic and behavioural information you have , but how else will the agency be profiling your audience?

Do they have their own data sets (second-party data) that they can employ to further target your audience and ensure your ad will be successful? What about access to third party data? These data-sets can be bought from other institutions such as news media, credit-card companies, or entertainment corporations such as Ticketek, and they can all offer insights into your potential audience.

The quality of the data your agency has access to will determine the quality of the results of your ads.


#3 –  What are they doing to protect the values of your brand?

The next big question to ask a potential agency, is what measures they will have to prevent your ads being seen next to content that may be detrimental to your brand values. A blacklist can stop the programmatic software from purchasing ad-spaces that appear on pornographic or extremist sites.


A more in depth blacklist will go further, and screen for sites with high bot activity. It has been reported that 51.8% of all internet traffic is bot activity, with 28.9% of this being ‘bad bots’ such as impersonators, spammers and hacker tools. There are certain sites that these bots are more frequent, and a proficient agency will have contingencies within their strategy to avoid these sites.

It’s also useful to ask how often the agency updates their blacklists, as these undesirable sites have a tendency of popping up regularly under new domain names.

#4 – Are your ads being seen by a human?

Even if your ads appear on reputable and contextually desirable sites, how will your agency ensure that it is still a human who is viewing your ad, and not a bot?

Bot activity is again on the rise, and now forms the majority of online traffic. So if you are paying your agency per impression of your ad, it’s only reasonable that you make sure those impressions are not being wasted on bots. Again, proficient agencies will have standards on viewability, and will optimise the ads to only appear where there is evidence of human activity. After all, bots aren’t going to fill out a form or purchase your product.


#5 – How will they be analysing the results?

Unlike a billboard or newspaper ad where it can be difficult to track how many people are seeing the ad and acting on it directly, with digital advertising we can get much more specific ROI data. Particularly with the programmatic software, the depth of analytics possible can be overwhelming. This is one of the reasons why 43% of marketers outsource this process.

The important thing to ask whoever you are outsourcing it to though, is what types of analytics are they running to optimise their results? Are they analysing views of ad impressions or how many clicks the ad receives?

Getting the best ROI from your advertising, starts with getting the best people on the job.

Speaking of the best people, have you met our team here at Lightbox Communications?