When I speak to Higher Education marketers about programmatic advertising, questions about its efficiency, transparency and general functionality are common. But the overriding query is: how do I know when I’ve chosen the best solution? There’s no simple answer to this, but if you first determine your online advertising goals, there are five fundamental actions you can take to ensure you’re getting the most out of the channel:
DEMAND TRANSPARENCY FROM YOUR PARTNERS
When dealing with agencies, DSPs or trading desks, you deserve to know exactly where your money is going. Ask for clarity on the margins your partners use, and if you don’t like what you see, speak up! Right now, the industry is giving way to second-generation solutions whose goal to provide marketers with visibility and authority is spelling the end of second-class service. You can now take your pick from the best, and get a comprehensive, step-by-step view of your budget consumption.
APPLY YOUR OWN EXPERTISE
Programmatic is a two-way relationship, and the role you play as the industry expert is crucial, because both the technology and your partners work harder when they learn from your insights.
Your data is the greatest source of insight you own, providing a systematic view of your audience and their behaviour. For your DSP to understand its value in the same way you do, categorisation is key. Assigning values to your data helps the tech identify what to look for when targeting, and how to recognise a successful interaction with your ad. The resultant reporting will be more explicit and will better inform future campaigns.
Education is also a major factor. Discuss with your team the industry changes that will impact your online advertising, then seek information from your partners on how programmatic can address these milestones. Train your team for the future, and react with your industry intuition and partners’ technological know-how combined.
FOCUS ON RESPONSIVE SERVICE
Consider the moment a university course gets filled; if there’s display activity promoting this particular course, you want to know as soon as those student places are gone, so that any remaining budget sitting on corresponding campaigns can be relocated to others that need the extra spend. The time pressures of the academic year mean you naturally want to take actions like these as quickly as possible.
The best service comes from partners who are committed to your goals. What’s their response time? Do they prioritise critical issues? Do you actually like and trust them? These are all great questions to settle when seeking out the best service.
CUSTOMISE YOUR SOLUTION
Plenty of marketers tell me that they still want to work with a programmatic partner, but be more involved. The great news is that customisable solutions do exist, giving you the say over the processes you want to govern and those you need a partner to manage. In a practical sense, this could mean that your team sets campaign goals, supplies creative and oversees reporting, while your programmatic partner manages aspects such as pixel implementation and strategy.
But customisation means different things to different marketers. It may simply refer to the options visible within your DSP, or it could define the level of service you receive from your partners. Whether you want to go it alone, or find someone to oversee your every programmatic need, the solution you choose should fit snugly to your requirement, and be flexible enough for alteration at any point in time.
FIND THE PERFECT PARTNER
You may not realise it, but not all programmatic partnerships require long-term commitments. Before you sign any dotted lines, make sure the contract suits your needs. If you’re looking to test the waters, or if you only want to use programmatic at certain points throughout the academic year, don’t get tied to anything except the solution that gives maximum value for these terms.
There are always ways to be better, but if you demand optimum TRANSPARENCY, CUSTOMISATION, AND SERVICE you’ll be on your way to increasing your profitability. Whether you take more control over your online advertising, or demand better from your partners, programmatic can become a linchpin in your digital marketing strategy, raising your competitiveness throughout enrolment and beyond.
If you want to learn more about programmatic advertising for the Higher Education sector, you can listen to our 2015 webinar, ONLINE ADVERTISING TO STUDENTS.