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Five Takeaways from the 2016 IAB Programmatic Summit

The Interactive Advertising Bureau’s recent Programmatic Summit in Los Angeles brought together hundreds of advertising industry experts who discussed topics including programmatic, cross-device measurement, marketing automation and more. Some interesting themes emerged from the day’s sessions that have broad application for others in the industry. Here are five key insights we came away with:

Marketers are Using Programmatic Further Down the Purchase Funnel
According to speakers at this year’s summit, the increasing sophistication of programmatic ad campaigns is allowing brands to target consumers further along in their buying journey. Alex Sutton, Global Director of Digital Acquisition for rental car firm Avis Budget Group, is one advertiser using this approach. Avis Budget finds potential customers who have already expressed an interest in car rentals and then uses programmatic ad units to efficiently “steer” them to one of their rental properties based on current pricing options.

Technology and Automation Are Enabling Highly Granular Targeting
There was a time when advertisers might segment consumers into a handful of potential “buckets” for their ad campaigns. Today, technology and automation make it possible to create huge numbers of customized ads based on a customer’s browsing history. Saatchi & Saatchi LA, for example, has built out thousands of different car buyer profiles for Toyota based on vehicle preferences like color, interior options and price. They actually created more than 100,000 unique ads for one campaign.

A/B Testing is A Critical Tool to Optimize Digital Performance
Today’s savvy advertisers are maximizing budgets and optimizing their campaign strategy by A/B testing different creative units. JJ Caruth, Head of Marketing & Distribution for film distributor Focus World, said her organization used A/B testing on Facebook to help stretch the company’s budget for its recent film “Mr. Right.” By measuring the engagement on ads featuring different actors and plot points, the distributor decided to focus on marketing their film as a romantic comedy and to feature star Anna Kendrick in the creative.

“People-Based Targeting” is Growing in Importance
Executives at this year’s summit talked about the way digital campaigns are moving beyond a reliance on cookies to focus instead on using “first-party data” they’ve gained from consumers’ online sign-ins. Mac Delaney, Head of Programmatic for Merkle, said his firm is trying to replace general age profiles typically used in ad targeting with detailed information about consumers’ exact birthdates gained from website sign-in IDs (from sites like Facebook).

Outside Vendors Help Drive Innovation with Programmatic
Many agencies and brands are considering moving their programmatic buying in-house rather than outsourcing it to third parties. But according to some industry veterans, working with outside vendors has a number of benefits. Publicis, for example, uses over a dozen vendors just for programmatic campaigns. Those outside vendors are able to leverage cutting edge technology at a fraction of the cost of bringing such capabilities in-house.