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Programmatic Advertising with Customer Insight

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As digital marketers, we have a lot of influence which is only aided by big data. If we have an understanding of social and consumer psychology, we can use these two elements and the data at our disposal. We do of course have to ask ourselves some ethical questions such as “just because we can do it, doesit mean we should?”

Especially in the world of the B2C environment. In this environment, we need to be extra vigilant on our level of data gathering and using this to influence. We have the technology and psychological skills to influence the lives of people around us and around the world.

Below I have written an article about using customer insight together with programmatic advertising to target your marketing and remarketing to get in front of the right customers at the right time before they realise they need a product like yours but just at the right time based on similar or related purchases. These are some powerful steps forward in the digital marketing and advertising realm and one of the most interesting areas in digital marketing.

This is taking the art of online advertising and adding some real science behind it. Ever since getting in to SEO 15 years ago or more I have been focused on the science that we can provide in the marketing world in the results we can prove from our marketing using analytics to show the value and return that companies are getting from the work that we do.

Analytics turns the art of marketing into a science. In fact data scientists all across the globe are being employed by big businessin order to understand and use big data for their advantage. I am all for this. I believe companies should focus more money on the data analysts than the tools they use. There are lots of cool tools out there that can be used to gather and present big data but these are of no use unless you have the skills to interpret the data.

Our focus here is on the social sciences to explain the why and digital marketing analysts to explain the what and the how.

We are so used to things being there automatically for us in today's society that when they are not we get confused and somewhat irritated. As behavioural marketers, we are no different. Why would we want to spend time bidding for getting our adverts in front of your eyes? We are lazy, and we want to spend our time doing the fun creative and psychological stuff that makes us feel like we are working in an episode of MADMEN or as a criminal profiler in the FBI’s behavioural science unit.

So, for us, programmatic advertising using big data and behavioural insights is a dream come true.


At the moment, the focus of the technology is in the online advertising aspect which allows marketers to get their adverts in front of people searching the web via computer, tablet or mobile device of choice in real-time, at the right time and for the right price.

RTB is the buzz with programmatic advertising. It stands for Real Time Bidding and does exactly what it says on the tin; it allows advertisers to bid in real-time for an advert in a targeted placement in front of the people they want their advert to be seen by at the right time. But Real Time Bidding is not programmatic advertising but rather one of the programmatic advertising options.

What is Programmatic Buying?

Programmatic buying is the process of buying digital advertising space using automated software, its that simple but it is a little smarter than just that. It allows publishers and buyers of advertising space to purchase that space in an automated way through Ad Exchanges, DSP and SSP’s. Instead of the old fashion model of publisher sells space; advertiser negotiates on price and advert gets placed, advertiser hopes advert might get seen and at the end of the year probably regrets their decision.

With programmatic ad buying both the advertiser and the publisher benefit. As the publisher, you do not need to pay anyone to sell you advertising space fo you, and as a marketer, you don’t have to barter with a pushy sales rep or manually put your adverts on lots of sites.

But even better for the advertising buyer is the fact that they can get their message out in front of their potential customers in real time. It is becoming widely accepted by consumers that are now using this type of advertising technique that they are seeing greater returns and more customer engagement using programmatic advertising.

Its real benefit is its ability to be used to target your specific audience demographic and psychographics in real time when they are accessing the site in question instead of hoping that when you are paying for impressions, it might just get in front of the customer whose profile you were targeting. When used together with a retargeting/remarketing strategy this enables advertisers to reshow or show for the first time their adverts based on what the user has recently or previously search or the websites he or she has visited.

Sounds a bit big brother. Well, it is. It is Big Brother, and he is using big data. But by the very fact of the user/searcher accepting these things are going on by agreeing to terms without reading them and allowing cookies it allows the advertiser more ability to get their message directly in front of the people they want. In front of-of them, at the time they want it in front of them. Big data allows them to know when the customer have recently purchased, looked at our trial a product and so are probably currently thinking of the type of service or product advertised, or if they are not thinking of it then they have been recently, and the advert might just trigger the response the advertisers want. This kind of service combined with the biopsychosocial and psychometric profiling, behavioural economic, neurolinguistics and creative communications we specialise are no doubt the most power advertising and marketing tools, technologies and techniques on the market today.

Companies that have engaged in programmatic advertising have seen staggering results in ROI from their campaigns over previous advertising campaigns.

So How Does It Work?

Data drives it.  Big Data. What is Big Data? Well, it is as it sounds a lot of frickin data. Advertisers or professional advertising buyers detailed log of their target audience. The more detailed and accurate the advertiser can be the more targeted the advertising will be. The profiling is not just about demographic and psychographic detail it is also ensuring that the context of the advert display is in line with the behaviour of the potential customer.

With programmatic advertising, the software used by advertisers in effect conducts a deal with the auction systems that the advertiser has already decided to interact. These deals are for impressions in milliseconds and determine who gets their advert in front of the potential customer and when. This part of the process that is commonly known as Real Time Bidding.

There are then two main approaches that the advertiser will use

  1. Based on the price of the advert where the buyer is looking to reduce costs and optimise their adverts, this is still a very manual approach but is not one to be ignored.
  2. A value-based purchasing program. The exciting element here for advertisers is that the platform used can learn from its mistakes if it fails based on the adverse consumer reaction or lack of advert interaction to the advert shown. Enabling both publisher and advertiser to deliver higher quality more targeted and relevant advertising to their customers, thus improving the customer experience.
    1. Gone are the days when you paid for mass Ad Exchange or Network advertising only to see your advert appear on a website where it just didn’t fit or was out of place (at least that’s the theory).

If you take this targeted, programmatic and direct approach, it will no doubt improve your digital advertising campaigns no end if done well and if combined with the right psychometric and behavioural economic data could be unstoppable. If you add in a well thought out retargeting/remarketing lead nurturing strategy, then you are playing with gold dust.

It offers

  • Targeted advertising direct to your potential customers, when they want it and how you want it
  • It provides online marketers with more control and improved return on investment for their campaigns
  • Real-time results that enable you to adapt and change your campaign quickly to make improvements
  • You are paying per impression, not for a block of advertising space over a period; this is far more cost effective than traditional banner advertising
  • Flexible, dynamic approach which means your direct advertising campaign can work with your business needs and customer wants in real time
  • You can psychologically profile clients and get more data about who they are which is based on their real-time actions and the behavioural marketing analytics.

Industry Noise

As with a lot of online marketing, we are used to the old saying “it’s all smokes and mirrors” which is usually said by the ill-informed.

With programmatic advertising, there is some of this. It can seem a complicated playing field to enter, and some of the terms are confusing if not at time contradictory. The IAB (The Interactive Advertising Bureau) has written some reports on this subject where it calls for clarity of the subject to enable buyers to feel more secure in what they are buying.

From the consumers point of view

From the customer's perspective, we might think it is a bit scary that all of these places have all of this data on us and that marketers and advertisers can target us so directly and precisely, even knowing how to influence us with the psychology of marketing and behavioural communication.

Let us get it into some perspective. Firstly is there a lot of data about you out there on the web or Internet of Things that marketers can get access to? Well yes and no. Yes, there is a lot of data out there, and if you are the average digitally connected person, there is probably lots of it about you. Can marketers access it? Yes but not in a full complete picture as some would probably hope. We can access bits of data streams about the type of people we want to target and their profile but unless they have already bought from us or signed up to something from us in the past we do not get access to any direct personal info.

Every time you accept a cookie or search engines or social network terms and conditions you are giving away a piece of your digital self, and you are providing access to data about you and the things you like to search for, look at, share, like and talk about with your friends. It is Big Brother, but you keep on accepting it unconditionally.

Can you do anything about it? Yes, you could go off the grid. God knows I have thought about that often enough. You could also look out for a new breed of search engine and social network that does not track your every word and move like DuckDuckGo a search engine that doesn’t track you. Or social networks like insomniachat.com (my very own network) which only uses Google analytics to make improvements to how people get to the site and interact with it from there on.

Another option is by being aware these techniques are going on and using them to your advantage. If you know, a site is monitoring you, and you want to buy those jeans then you could consider teasing the system by taking the product all the way to the digital check out and abandoning it there. Then no doubt in a matter of days if not seconds you will either receive an email with a special offer or start to see adverts with huge discounts from that store you were already going to buy the product from anyway.0

Just recently I did something similar, actually unintentionally, and I ended up getting a 60% discount on a product I had already decided I was going to buy.


All in all programmatic advertising looks like it is here to stay and those taking part in it are find it a real benefit to their publicity and marketing campaigns making it essential to their ongoing strategy. It is a powerful tool that when used with the right psychometrics and psychological marketing techniques can bring fantastic returns. And as consumers we need not dread these types of innovation but instead, figure out ways we can use them to our advantage. 


free advice by SEO linguist, Digital & Behavioural Marketing Analyst: Sam O'Prey from Telford, Shropshire, West Midlands UK specialist in helping charities, not for profits, social enterprises, SME's and activists to get their message noticed

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