The Future of Programmatic Advertising with Kristina Kasalova

Programmatic Account Manager, Kristina Kasalova, recently spoke at the Global Academy of Digital Marketing’s (GADM), “Evolution of Programmatic” hosted by AppNexus. Alongside industry experts, Kristina discussed the future of programmatic by exploring the ways in which it’s evolved over the past five years, and useful stratgeies for brands to implement for the changes that lie ahead.

What do you see as the biggest barrier to programmatic advertising at the moment? And what is being done to progress past this?

Programmatic has become mainstream now which means a lot of simplifications and misunderstandings of the term are present among new users. There is still some misunderstanding that programmatic, or even more so, RTB, is an efficient but somewhat dodgy way of getting performance out of your display activity. For others, while this notion is no longer case, see programmatic as a singular answer for everything without understanding the underlying principles. Programmatic is a very wide term nowadays and we need to be clear about it, especially when someone is new to the concept.

Programmatic buys have evolved radically in recent months and we are now able to use them with confidence across all stages of the customer journey – awareness, research, branding, remarketing and re-engagement. All of the above use programmatic as a principle, however the execution is different, and it is the key to understanding the variability within the industry, and to finding the option which best suits your marketing goals and business objectives. A crucial piece is to understand the variety under the term “programmatic” and learn a bit about differences between the options.

What really differentiates programmatic today from programmatic 5 years ago?

A couple of years back, programmatic meant audience buys across sub-par quality inventory, using standardized flash creatives and broad data segments. Fortunately, this is no longer the case – first and third party data is much richer now, and allows us to target even niche audiences at particular stages of their customer journey. We can target from discovery, through research, and the consideration phases, all the way up to re-engagement, and keeping brand loyalty.
Inventory quality has improved significantly in only 2-3 years. This was driven both by publishers, who became savvy about opportunities of programmatic (preferred deals or programmatic guaranteed can be as profitable as traditional direct buys), and ad exchanges, who stepped up and started to monitor and filter poor inventory in their marketplaces. It was also picked up on by advertisers and agencies who started to use brand safety and viewability verification tools and hence, created demand for better quality inventory.

Creative options have grown as well, partially driven by wider use of an HTML5 format, although this was initially semi-forced onto advertisers by major players in the industry. HTML5 is more transparent and offers less heavy loading than flash files, which gives advertisers the opportunity to use more engaging and high-impact formats with embedded videos, or additional features (surveys, galleries, microsites, etc.). Publishers are also more open to accept various ad size formats through RTB, which provides more options for their creative ideas. Altogether, this means that is it easier than ever to create engaging ads in various formats.

Where do you think advertisers should really be spending their time and energy when it comes to their campaigns?

Data and creative. Marketers need to know their target audience and that’s when the owned data come in handy. Even advertisers who have little to no experience with display advertising almost certainly have data which can help them understand what their audience likes, and how to reach them more effectively. Insights from Google Analytics, from transactions on the site, PPC activity, or their CRM database, all of these can be used to inform the initial targeting profile or even multiple profiles. The initial statistics from existing data can be used in campaigns, tested and refined further with additional insights on user preferences and behavior. Using the data will help brands become more relevant to audiences and spend their budget more efficiently on the vast scale of inventory available in display. At later stages you can look into using third party data or build a custom data model through a data management platform, but always make sure you know what your goals are in terms of the data you have, want to collect, and need, for more refined targeting.

Think of creative as an online shop window. In many cases, users know nothing about the brand or product being advertised, hence, it is important that the creative is engaging, trustworthy and relevant for them. The relevancy is related to targeting and data to a high degree, but engagement and trustworthiness are the design factors. Creatives should prepare users for what they can expect on the website, and from the product or service. An interesting ad is more likely to spark attention and engage users, creating the desire to explore the product further. This only works if the ad is trusted. If the ad is not deemed trustworthy, why would they bother to come to the site and convert? So although flashy ads can spark attention, think about whether this is actually sending the message you want to the customer. As in a brick-and-mortar business, you might not get second chance to talk to the same user and convince them about your product, so having a trustworthy creative is crucial.

How can advertisers use data more effectively?

The most efficient use of data comes from a clear understanding of the objectives you want to achieve and being aware of the options available to you.

Knowing your goals will guide you through the definition of what data you need and also how to go through the journey of accomplishing it. Being aware of the options on the market will give you edge when thinking about actual implementation and help you find the best solution for your brand. This means that you should know what data you have readily available  and also know how to use it to achieve your goals.

For instance, if you want to know what customer segments buy what type of product in your eShop, you most likely know what items are sold together, and what day of the week and time of day works best, how many times they come to your site before completing a purchase, how they came to your site, and many other details. Your site analytics might even give you an estimate of the demography of your site visitors. All of this helps paint a picture of your audience. Once you put all this information together, it will be easier to identify the missing parts of data which will help you refine your strategy. Some of the missing data might be available to buy from 3rd parties, others, you will need to gather yourself through testing. This is a continuous process as your company goals and audience evolves.

Download the presentation slides here: Recalculating Creative Trajectory

Want to know more about 2016’s trends? Download our mid-year review 

TripAdvisor: Using Disruption to Stay Relevant in the Online Travel World by Adrian Hands

TripAdvisor is where travellers go to plan their trips and is the undisputed leader in hotel reviews. For the past 12 years, the company has used disruption to move themselves to the forefront of the travel industry by re-inventing the review market. At NMPi’s, Evolving Digital: How to Stay Relevant in a Changing World seminar, Senior Director, Adrian Hands, talked about what the future holds for the company, and how they plan to stay relevant in a rapidly changing digital marketplace by using two disrupters: Instant Book and Attractions.

Globally, travel is a $2.3 trillion dollar business, with the the online market forecasted to be $700 billion over the next several years. While most online purchases are in airlines, with cruises bringing in a fair share of the market, the majority of revenue in the travel industry lies in accommodation.

With the hotel market expanding rapidly, TripAdvisor employed some innovative strategies to stay ahead of the competition. Personalisation is key; they developed the Traveller’s Choice Awards, a much sought after recognition programme that is coveted by travel businesses across the globe. In addition, the use of loyalty points, stickers, and user badges have all been important, and relatively low-cost strategies for TripAdvisor.

Instant Book

What’s the the next disrupter for TripAdvisor? Instant Book. Currently, most revenue made by TripAdvisor is via third party online travel agencies. The goal is to interrupt that flow and reconnect directly with hotels. The intermediary between TripAdvisor, the travel agency, and the hotel was an excellent starting point for expanding the brand, but Hands indicated that it was time to move on and grow the business in other ways. Connecting directly into the hotel’s API and booking system provides a better user experience. TripAdvisor is actively trying to disrupt the commission market by lowering hotel commissions via third parties, then giving hotels direct access to their customers, while still retaining a positive customer experience. While they are interested in expansion into this area, they don’t want to be an online travel agency.

This is not a new strategy. Hands admitted that other companies have done this but that TripAdvisor has a unique advantage in its huge content base, with 80 million registered users and a significant influence in the market.


The next big disrupter is the attraction market. TripAdvisor wants to help its customers answer: ‘What will you do on your next vacation?’ They’ve strategically partnered with two companies to help move this goal forward: US based, Viator, and European brand, La Forchette. TripAdvisor purchased Viator because they offer a huge selection of packaged and discounted trips that could be worth $120 billion worldwide. Viator can serve TripAdvisor customers the content they want to see based on their bookings. LaForchette is a popular restaurant booking business and a nice add-on to what’s being offered online. Their addition to TripAdvisor would also be an easy market disrupter that ties into providing a seamless customer experience.

Download Adrian’s Slides: Using Disruption to Stay Relevant in the Online Travel World

Using Disruption to Stay Relevant in the Online Travel World from NMPi

Case Study: Building a new customer base in the UK

We are pleased to share a new case study of our work with well-known international travel brand, Sunweb. Adopting a new approach, we integrated Paid Search and Display advertising to help effectively reach a new audience and successfully help build a customer base in the UK.



Sunweb are a leading international specialist tour operator. They have an established customer base in Europe and were looking to increase brand awareness in the UK and build its customer base locally. They appointed us to help them achieve this through Paid Search and Display advertising. We believed that we could use an integrated Paid Search and Display advertising strategy to increase brand awareness and drive incremental bookings in the UK.


Our Approach

Sunweb has some brand awareness in the UK, and as such already has some existing traffic to the website from UK consumers. To capture this existing search traffic, we launched a Paid Search campaign promoting Sunweb’s holiday services through a series of text ads. Messaging was designed specifically to drive consumers directly to the website.


To expand reach further, we implemented a Programmatic Display prospecting campaign promoting Display ad placements on contextually relevant websites. This approach was designed to target new consumers who fit a pre-defined audience profile, who we believed would have an active interest in the type of holiday being offered by Sunweb.


To drive more online bookings, we analysed campaign conversion data to pinpoint the times at which most on-site conversions were made. Using this data, we commenced a retargeting campaign to pursue our target consumers at times when we knew that they would be most likely to convert.



The campaign has been a great success. Since launch, UK revenue has increased by +96% and bookings by +36% month on month. At the same time we have also managed to decreased cost per acquisition by 73%.


For further information on this campaign, please don’t hesitate to get in touch by contacting Digby at [email protected]


Net Media Planet adds to Performance Marketing Guide

PerformanceIN’s new Performance Marketing Guide 2014, with contribution from Net Media Planet, was launched this week. Now in its third edition, the Performance Marketing Guide is PerformanceIN’s flagship educational resource.


Crafted for anyone looking to hone their knowledge of a 14 billion pound revenue-generating industry, this guide contains insightful and educational content for any advertiser looking to promote a brand using performance marketing techniques.


As one of the leading companies in the performance marketing industry, Net Media Planet was pleased to contribute two chapters – on Paid Search and Programmatic Real-Time Bidding (RTB) – to the ten-chapter guide.


The Paid Search chapter gives a detailed overview of everything an advertiser needs to know to run successful Paid Search campaigns. With this channel continuing to be a core component of the marketing mix, we explore the latest technologies and practices available to help advertisers drive even more performance from Paid Search activity.


The second chapter discusses the new advertising phenomenon of Programmatic Real-Time Bidding (RTB). This emerging area is revolutionising the traditional idea of Display advertising due to its ability to measure and optimise Display campaign performance in real-time. In the chapter we discuss in detail how RTB works, and provide insights on how advertisers can best use this channel to maximum effect.


Other sections in the 120 page guide include mobile display, affiliate programme management, agile commerce, email, technology and data management.


Whether you are a seasoned marketing professional or someone taking their first steps in the industry, this guide will give you the insight and tactics required to build a successful approach to performance marketing.


Download your copy of the Performance Marketing Guide 2014 here:

FBX is now available within DBM


In a really exciting development for the Real Time Bidding landscape, today Google announced that Facebook Ad Exchange (FBX) is now available in DoubleClick Bid Manager (DBM).


Users will see the below announcement when they log in to DoubleClick Bid Manager:



In October last year, Google first made it known that it will be allowed access to the significant pool of inventory available on Facebook via its Demand Side Platform, DBM, which plugs into the Facebook Ad Exchange.


Today, Google have announced that the Facebook inventory is now readily available to be accessed. This new partnership will allow advertisers to purchase Facebook Ads through DBM. It also brings the technology for DoubleClick advertisers to target Facebook users based on their visits to webpages outside of Facebook.


This marks a significant development for DoubleClick; Facebook currently accounts for close to 25% of all Display impressions and as such is a significant part of the Display and Real Time Bidding landscape.


Facebook offers a whole host of marketing opportunities for brands and digital marketers to tap into, not least in respect to the new integration opportunities that this has opened up between Facebook and Paid Search. For example, advertisers can now integrate their Paid Search audience data with Facebook, with their Facebook remarketing messaging informed by signals from their customers search behaviour.


Being able to use granular Paid Search audience data across such a large scale inventory source such as Facebook is a fantastic opportunity which until today has never been possible, and we are excited to be testing this on day one for our clients.


Watch this space!