A Guide To Programmatic Advertising for Small Businesses

Running an independent business can be chaotic, and in the day-to-day of keeping everything together, marketing can sometimes take a backseat. Traditionally, small businesses have found success with local advertising and word of mouth, but today it’s significantly more possible to reach a wider audience through digital channels.

Beyond social media, search, and online reviews, there’s a world of digital advertising technology and media access that was previously only available to big brands and corporations in programmatic digital advertising. Now, as access to programmatic technology becomes increasingly democratized, small and midsize businesses can target their ideal customers wherever they are, through whatever online platform they are on at the time. 

Let’s take a closer look at how programmatic advertising can work for independent businesses, where the learning curve is, and how to really take advantage of this technology. 

The Role of Programmatic Advertising in Small Business

Used correctly, programmatic advertising can provide smaller businesses with an opportunity to compete with larger companies in the digital advertising realm. It allows you to fine-tune your advertising efforts to target the exact types of people you want to see your ads. If your small business slots into a specific niche, being able to target people with relevant interests and demographics can really help you make the most of your marketing budget.  

Programmatic advertising and the evolving technologies it can leverage, such as AI-driven data science and predictive analytics solutions, can allow you to engage ideal potential customers. With open media access, you can find them across varied channels such as display advertising, video ads, audio ads inserted into music streaming and podcasts, digital billboards/signage, native advertising, and more. A holistic, omnichannel approach driven by data and technology can amplify your brand’s reach and utilize these channels together to help drive conversions throughout your advertising while maximizing any size budget.

AI-powered programmatic advertising platforms even take care of the technical side of ad placement, which means that small business owners can focus solely on their audiences and what they want to say to them. 

How Does Programmatic Advertising Work for Small Businesses?

So, what is programmatic advertising, exactly? It might sound complex, but it essentially just involves automating the advertising process. Most of the work lies in setting up and planning your campaigns. Once a campaign is up and running, you can keep an eye on it while focusing most of your efforts on other aspects of your business. 

Let’s break down exactly how programmatic advertising works for small businesses, step by step. 

The Programmatic Advertising Campaign Setup Process

Setting up your digital programmatic advertising campaign means sitting down and outlining how and why you want to advertise. There are a variety of different digital platforms and many ways to target potential customers. Here’s what you should start with: 

Defining Campaign Goals and Target Audience

The first step in the programmatic advertising campaign setup process is defining your campaign goals and target audience. What do you hope to achieve with your advertising campaign? Think of short-term goals. While things like business success or growth are great goals, they can be a bit too broad for a single campaign. More specific campaign goals could include general brand awareness, lead generation, or direct sales.  

Once your goals are set, identify your target audience – their demographics, interests, and online behaviors. While you may know some of your audience’s behaviors, programmatic ad platforms can help fine-tune your targeting through machine learning and analysis of behavior patterns. 

Programmatic advertising platforms utilize advanced data science and AI to create predictive audience modeling. This helps you understand who your customers are, what they want, and where you can find them online.

Choosing a Programmatic Advertising Platform

The next step is to choose a platform for your programmatic campaigns, typically one or more demand-side platforms (DSPs). DSPs, are used by marketers and agencies to buy display, mobile, video, audio, and search ads. There are numerous platforms to choose from, but they can be difficult to access as an independent business due to budget minimums and knowledge barriers. Many solutions exist to help you navigate these issues, including intuitive self-service platforms, as well as partners like AUDIENCEX that can manage your campaign for you, placing ads across numerous platforms at once without prohibitive minimums.

This kind of access across platforms, driven by unbiased, data-driven recommendations on where to place your ads, can help you launch an effective omnichannel campaign to accelerate your business growth with precise targeting, wide reach and optimal performance.

Outlining Your Campaign Budget and Bid Strategies

Once your platform is chosen, it’s time to outline your campaign budget and bid strategies. Programmatic advertising platforms utilize real-time bidding, where ad placements are bought and sold automatically while a webpage is being loaded. 

Budgets can be set both for your whole campaign and for individual days. Once your budget limit is reached, your programmatic software will stop buying ads so that you do not overspend. The key is to strike a balance between bidding competitively for premium ad spaces and ensuring your advertising spending does not exceed your budget. 

Of course, programmatic advertising is not just about outbidding your competition: It’s about targeting the right audience using data. Fortunately, a well-executed programmatic advertising strategy powered by advanced technology such as custom bidding algorithms and predictive analytics can ensure that this budget is being spent effectively to maximize your results.

Programmatic Advertising Campaign Creation

The creation of a successful programmatic advertising campaign requires a strategic approach. You will add messaging to your planning and put your plan into action. It’s very important that your advertising text, videos, and graphics are all compelling and personalized to fit the audiences you want to target. It’s also usually a good idea to double-check any preconceived notions you may have about your customer base through A/B testing. 

Crafting Compelling Ad Creatives

Ad creatives are the heart of your programmatic advertising campaign. While the technology works behind the scenes, these are the touchpoints that your audience actively sees and chooses to engage with – or not. For your campaign to stand out in the competitive digital advertising space, you need to craft compelling and engaging ad creatives.

Creativity plays a significant role here, as does access to tech-enabled capabilities and formats that can help your ads stand out and resonate. The design and copy of your ads should both align with your brand identity and resonate with your target audience. To further bolster your programmatic advertising, particularly across channels such as display, video, and audio, focus on creating a unified and coherent brand narrative that builds across all channels. Consistent messaging enhances your brand’s credibility and makes it more memorable.

This portion can be daunting; having a partner that includes creative services to ensure that your messaging and visuals are well-crafted, consistent, and engaging can simplify this process. An effective creative team will be able to work closely with you, leverage your existing branding and assets, and help you elevate your campaigns to build your brand and boost performance.

Personalizing Ads To Target Audience Segments

Personalization is another vital component of a good programmatic campaign. Using the advanced capabilities of programmatic advertising platforms, you can segment your audience based on various demographic and behavioral traits. Advanced AI-powered data science tools can help fuel this segmentation and predictively model expansion targets that are relevant to your brand.

Once you’ve defined your audience segments, you can create personalized ads that speak directly to their interests, needs, and online behaviors. This level of customization increases the relevance of your ads, making them more likely to grab attention and convert audiences.

Ad creatives, headlines, and call-to-action (CTA) buttons can be tailored to each audience segment. For instance, a personalized message to a segment interested in eco-friendly products might say “Shop our latest eco-friendly selections” instead of a generic “Shop now.”

Running A/B Tests for Campaign Optimization

To ensure your programmatic advertising campaign is performing at its best, run A/B tests. A/B testing involves creating two similar versions of an ad — version A and version B — with one key difference between them. This could be the headline, the image, the CTA, or any other element.

By splitting your audience and serving each half a different ad version, you can analyze which performs better. The results of these tests provide valuable insights that can be used to optimize your current and future campaigns.

For instance, if version A of your ad with a specific headline performs better than version B, you might consider using similar headlines in future ads. Meanwhile, if version B with a unique CTA outperforms version A, you might focus on experimenting with that type of CTA for increased engagement.

A/B testing is an ongoing process. Digital advertising and the way people respond to it is constantly changing — what works today might not work tomorrow. Regular testing and optimization, though, help you stay adaptable and effective in your programmatic advertising efforts. Of course, a digital advertising partner can help you decide which elements to test, develop options, and analyze results to ensure that your data is relevant and valuable.

Programmatic Advertising Metrics and Analytics

So, how do you know if your ads are working? The right metrics can offer crucial insights into your campaign’s progress, revealing what’s effective and what’s not while helping inform your programmatic advertising strategy moving forward. Monitoring and analyzing your campaign performance is a continuous task that ensures your ads are resonating with your audience and achieving your campaign goals. This is another area where a well-equipped partner can take the load off, leveraging AI-driven technology to rapidly analyze data while providing a knowledgeable lens to interpret insights.

Choosing the Right Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Key Performance Indicators (or, KPIs) serve as the measurable goals of your programmatic advertising campaign. They enable you to gauge your campaign’s success by offering quantifiable evidence of how well it’s meeting its defined objectives.

Selecting the right KPIs for your goals is important for accuracy. For instance, if your campaign objective is to raise brand awareness, a suitable KPI might be the number of impressions or the reach of your ads. If your aim is to drive sales, on the other hand, conversion rates or return on ad spending would be a more appropriate focus.

There are many KPIs to choose from, including click-through rate, cost per acquisition, cost per click, and more. Consider your business goals, your marketing budget, and the specifics of your programmatic advertising strategy when choosing from these KPIs.

Monitoring Campaign Performance

Once you have your KPIs in place, consistent monitoring of your campaign performance is vital. This helps you understand how your ads are performing in real time and allows for timely adjustments. Leverage the advanced analytics and real-time optimization features provided by programmatic advertising platforms to monitor your campaign. If you’re not getting the results you got before, it might be time to adjust your ads.

Improving the Campaign With Data-Driven Insights

Programmatic advertising is a data-based process. Every interaction with your ads generates data that can provide valuable insights for campaign optimization.

For example, if a particular demographic segment responds positively to one of your ads, you might consider allocating more of your budget toward targeting this group and using similar messaging in the future when personalizing ads for them. On the other hand, if a segment shows low engagement, it might be beneficial to reevaluate your approach or shift your focus to more responsive segments.

Today’s AI-powered solutions can interpret this kind of performance data in real time, automating these adjustments and enabling a campaign to continuously optimize itself. With this kind of optimization, a single campaign can maximize results throughout its lifecycle while providing invaluable data that can help inform your overall programmatic advertising strategies.

Small Business Programmatic Advertising Examples

So how would programmatic advertising work for small businesses in practice? The right strategy will depend on the type of business and the behaviors of the target audience. Here are a few examples of how small businesses could employ different types of programmatic advertising:

  • An online retailer can use programmatic display advertising to retarget website visitors who added items to their cart but didn’t complete the purchase. By displaying personalized banner ads featuring the items left in the cart, they can remind customers to finish their purchase, increasing conversions.
  • A local gym can tap into programmatic audio advertising on music streaming platforms to target people within their geographic region who listen to workout playlists. Ads could feature a motivational message and a special membership discount.
  • An IT solutions firm could use programmatic advertising on LinkedIn to target ads at other small business owners within their area. By focusing on decision-makers within their target demographic, they can rapidly increase relevant leads.
  • An independent bookstore could use programmatic advertising to send personalized ad recommendations to readers based on their interests and past purchases. 
  • A bakery or café could utilize geolocation in programmatic advertising to target customers within a specific radius of their locations. They can deliver ads around meal times, increasing foot traffic and sales.

Programmatic Advertising Challenges and Solutions for Small Businesses

While programmatic advertising offers many benefits, small businesses can encounter several challenges as they delve into the digital advertising space:

Limited Budgets

Most small businesses operate on tight budgets. While online advertising can be cost-effective, getting results can also become expensive if you don’t have the necessary experience to target your audience correctly.

AUDIENCEX recognizes this challenge and provides solutions designed to maximize return on ad spend. With our custom bidding algorithms and real-time bidding capability, we ensure that every dollar of your marketing budget is utilized optimally. We provide the highest value for your budget without sacrificing reach or engagement. Every business can reap programmatic advertising benefits, regardless of budget.

Technical Complexity

Programmatic advertising involves various technologies, platforms, and terminologies that may seem overwhelming to small businesses without dedicated marketers or a background in digital advertising. This complexity can become a significant barrier to entry.

At AUDIENCEX, we believe in making programmatic advertising accessible to all businesses, regardless of their size or technical expertise. We handle the technical aspects of programmatic advertising with transparency, as our dedicated team works closely with you to define your goals and strategy, launch and manage your campaigns, and provide in-depth, actionable performance data. 

Lack of Experience

Leveraging programmatic advertising to its fullest extent requires a deep understanding of digital marketing strategies, including targeting, segmentation, creative development, and performance analytics. Small businesses may not have the necessary in-house expertise to leverage programmatic advertising fully.

Our team at AUDIENCEX, on the other hand, includes industry experts with extensive knowledge in all aspects of digital advertising. From holistic strategists working from extensive audience and vertical data, to our award-winning creative team employing the latest formats and capabilities, to our analytics and insights that leverages advanced, AI-powered solutions, we work consistently to provide the knowledge and expertise necessary to provide access, deliver results, and empower independent businesses to excel.

We Help Small Businesses Drive Growth Through Programmatic Advertising

If you are a small business owner, driving growth is surely your top priority. However, it’s not enough to just aim for growth; you need a reliable and efficient way to achieve it. Programmatic advertising, with its advanced targeting capabilities and extensive reach, provides an exceptional opportunity for small businesses to expand their customer base, increase brand awareness, and boost sales.

At AUDIENCEX, we understand the unique challenges faced by small businesses in the digital advertising space and focus on delivering enterprise-level solutions to every advertiser, helping to level the playing field. With the latest in emergent AI technology, privacy-safe data access, advanced creative capabilities, and custom holistic strategies, we work to ensure growth within any budget. Leveraging our team’s extensive industry knowledge, omnichannel media access and cutting-edge technology, we can help you navigate challenges and leverage programmatic advertising effectively. Wherever your audience is, we can help you reach and engage them across devices and channels.Every small business has the potential to achieve huge things. To find out how AUDIENCEX can help you navigate programmatic advertising to accelerate your business growth, reach out today. A member of our team would love to discuss your specific needs, challenges, and goals.