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South African marketers who wish to drive the best possible return on investment from digital marketing and advertising need to take a holistic approach that harnesses the strengths of different tools and channels.
Search, premium display, native advertising and programmatic buys all have complementary roles to play in a media strategy. Many publishers, agencies, and brands are looking at programmatic and premium buys as though advertisers need to choose between them.
But we see a strong role for both in the marketing mix, along with search ads, search engine optimisation, and native advertising playing an important supporting role. Brands need to look at their strategy in an integrated fashion and use each tool for the campaigns and objectives to which it is best suited.
Premium: quality at a cost
Traditional premium placements are good for traditional brand campaigns as well as for ads that aim to profile a product in a visually rich manner. Definitions of premium inventory differ, but a premium placement is a contextually relevant banner in a prime piece of real estate (for example, above the fold on the home page) on a brand-safe publisher’s website. Premium placements will tend to be larger display units; often, they will use rich media.
For us, premium is all about the intersection of the content of the ad, the format, and the context. There’s a massive benefit, for example, in using large video formats to engage with users. The prestige of the environment and the quality of the content should make a premium placement perfect for building a brand.
Programmatic buys allow advertisers to purchase display media on auction in a private network. They enable advertisers to bid for inventory in an automated manner. Publishers tend to reserve their less valuable inventory for programmatic buys; in addition, ad networks often sell inventory from lower tier publishers.
Programmatic: measurable and targetable
The benefit for an advertiser is that it can buy inventory from multiple websites and publishers effectively and efficiently on a single platform. The inventory is often low-cost, yet most ad networks also have rich demographic, contextual and behavioural data that brands can use for targeting the right audience.
Advertisers typically start out in programmatic buys with a wide campaign. Then, they can use the learnings to narrow their focus on the users most likely to engage. As time goes by, they can incrementally improve performance by optimising their messaging and targeting users more precisely.
Convergence of programmatic and premium
It makes sense in many cases to meet with a multi-channel media sales house to craft bespoke advertising solutions that are tailored to the advertiser’s needs, says Drummond. These may include aspects such as native advertising placements, which are among the best-performing placements for many brands and campaigns.
Native advertising can be good for conversions and brand-building, as well as feeding the search engine optimisation strategy. One complexity for many brands lies in attribution of clickthroughs and conversions to the right channel, says Drummond. For example, many brands don’t give enough credit to premium ads for their role in driving searches.
Closing words: an integrated approach
A fully integrated strategy encompassing programmatic and premium approaches is the best road forward for advertisers today. It delivers the automation of programmatic tools, while leaving a gap for publishers and brands to create ‘rich’ tailored solutions that deliver superior ROI for premium buys.