Long has the legend endured that programmatic advertising = direct response = retargeting, i.e. when it comes to customers, programmatic can’t do more than help you grab the low hanging fruit.
But solely using retargeting, means you miss out on the scale offered by the ad exchange inventory landscape in its vast entirety. There are a whole lot of people out there who may not be aware of your products – perhaps they’ve never even heard of your brand – so what can you do about it?
Prospecting does what it says on the tin – it turns suspects into prospects. That is, it uses algorithms and lookalike modelling to discover more people who want to buy your products. It also drives a better understanding of your audience by providing more first-party data for the pot…
BUT WAIT. I ALREADY RUN RETARGETING ACTIVITY THAT PROVIDES ME WITH PLENTY OF DATA. WHAT DIFFERENCE WILL PROSPECTING MAKE?
In retail, it’s essential that your data is kept up-to-date. With frequently short sales cycles, the pressure is on to influence an individual’s path to purchase, before that opportunity expires, and a competitor steps in.
Whereas retargeting data gives you a repeat view of people in the lower funnel, prospecting constantly refreshes your cookie data pool, highlighting exactly where people are in the sales cycle (right now), and providing insight into the ever-changing variables that make them choose your products over someone else’s.
RIGHT. SO I SHOULD HAVE BOTH?
Programmatic works at its optimum when you do, thus delivering better results for your ad spend. It’s about interdependence: prospecting creates demand for your products, and retargeting fulfils that demand after constructing an awareness of what new customers want.
Most of us don’t like a stranger at the door, so think of prospecting as a much-preferred introductory stage; a necessary ‘first base’, to educate and inspire new opportunities, and discover more about what these people like – before asking them to part with their cash and personal details.
You can (and should) also use prospecting to support other marketing channels. The boosted demand for information on your products, which is created by successfully inspiring and educating prospects, drives conversions for lower-funnel activity, such as paid & organic search.
BUT IF A PROSPECTING AD INFLUENCES, RATHER THAN TRIGGERS A CONVERSION, HOW DO I PROVE ITS VALUE?
Rather than asking whether or not prospecting itself has value, the question should be: what is the value of each user that was exposed to prospecting activity? From here, you can drill deeper down into the monetary worth of different audiences, assess which creatives produced the highest yield, and decide whether or not to keep casting wide, or optimise towards a niche in future.
Creating an accurate attribution model takes time, but the must-have is conversion-level tracking for click and view-through attribution. This will indicate how and by how much every conversion was influenced by prospecting activity. A good DSP partner will provide more guidance on the type of attribution model best suited to your strategy.
YOU MENTIONED LOOKALIKE MODELLING. DOESN’T THAT MAKE PROSPECTING TOO PRESCRIPTIVE? WHAT IF I MISS OUT ON OTHER VALUABLE OPPORTUNITIES?
Good question! Although your data is great at helping create accurate lookalike models for your customers, there are always going to be extremely valuable anomalies that could change your game plan – if only you could identify them. Enter machine learning. Operating though your DSP, machine learning goes out there like a truffle pig, using algorithms to sniff out what you can’t see on the surface. Ergo, once your prospecting campaign is live, machine learning reveals yet more people who have the propensity to become loyal customers.
This is a light introduction into programmatic prospecting. There’s always more to learn, especially in the retail industry where customer buying habits change constantly, altering the way we identify those which hold value, and those that don’t. If you’re ready to trial programmatic prospecting though, you’ll see near immediate rewards for the extra effort.