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Programmatic Advertising For Small Businesses: What, Why, And How?

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Programmatic Advertising For Small Businesses: What, Why, And How?

Organizations of all sizes and industries stand to learn about and explore the world of programmatic advertising.

But for those that might have more limited resources (and time), knowing where to get started can be tricky.

Read on to learn how to embrace and start building your business’s strategy for programmatic advertising.

What is Programmatic Advertising?

Programmatic advertising uses algorithmic technology to buy and sell advertising space. The term programmatic refers to how the advertising space is bought and sold.

This does not mean the entire ad buying process is automated; you’ll still need to input details around targeting, budgets, and desired results to enable the software to buy the right advertising space based on your business goals.

Programmatic ad buying offers mass distribution for advertisers looking to reach a wider audience across the internet.

For smaller businesses, it’s worth noting that programmatic ad buying is not a free auction platform (like Google’s Display Network – see next section!). To access the available inventory (websites), you must source a programmatic advertising (SaaS) platform.

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What’s The Difference Between “Programmatic” And Google’s Display Network?

If you’re reading this post, you’re likely familiar with the Google Display Network (GDN).

The GDN is only a small part of the total available inventory (ad space) for display advertising online – and as such, it is more affordable for smaller businesses just starting out with display.

However, the GDN is just one ad exchange, and most programmatic platforms enable access to multiple ad exchanges in the same platform.

Image created by author, August 2022

Remember, the GDN is just one ad exchange.

A programmatic platform opens up a wider variety of inventory, meaning more space for your ads to be served.

Programmatic platforms also enable a wider variety of ad formats not available on the GDN, such as audio ads, connected TV, and video.

Why Invest In Programmatic?

Programmatic ad platform costs are usually only a small % of advertising spend and can yield much greater returns for small to medium enterprises (SMEs) and global brands, so don’t ignore programmatic just because you are a smaller business.

Here are a few reasons why programmatic is worth considering as an alternative to GDN for your business:

1. Variety Of Ad Formats

One of the fundamental principles of advertising is that businesses must invest in brand-building activity (think highly visual ad formats such as TV, audio, and display) alongside immediate sales activation (think bottom-funnel activity like paid search).

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Brand-building can help drive the biggest long-term sales uplift for any business, whereas sales activation type advertising often tends to have a less long-term impact on a brand and can be turned on and off, much like a tap.

Programmatic display ad formats can support brand building Image by author, August 2022

Programmatic display ad formats can support brand-building activity due to their visual nature.

The variety of ad formats available through programmatic platforms really lends itself to brand-building advertising.

This includes but is not limited to:

  • Native advertising – Advertorials.
  • Display – Static and interactive.
  • Video – In-platform and CTV (connected TV).
  • Audio – In-platform (e.g., Spotify), podcast ads.

The cost per thousand impressions (CPM) model means that you pay for impressions and not engagement on programmatic, which is why it lends itself better to brand-focused activity (focused on reach/impressions) vs. direct response campaigns.

2. Premium Inventory

The main question I am usually asked by smaller businesses considering programmatic is around the benefits over and above GDN.

The answer is the quality and diversity of publications you can access outside of Google.

For example, in most programmatic platforms, you can access direct deals with premium publishers that Google simply wouldn’t provide access to in GDN.

This means access to top-tier publications in your industry that aren’t available through placement targeting in GDN.

It is worth noting that programmatic and Google do share inventory for ad purchases.

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For example, sites such as weather.com are available on programmatic platforms and through the GDN.

3. Targeting And Efficiency

Programmatic advertising is designed for efficiency.

Depending on your business goals, an algorithm will determine where your cash is best spent.

Similar to most ad platforms, you’ll still need to input details on your target audience, campaign objectives, and desired CPM targets, but the platform will do the heavy lifting.

Rather than bidding on inventory through multiple ad exchanges, programmatic ad platforms allow advertisers to streamline management into a single platform, increasing the simplicity and efficiency of managing your advertising activity.

4. Reach And Scale

Programmatic platforms offer increased scale and reach by leveraging algorithmic ad buying technology across various advertising exchanges.

This means a shift from 1:1 ad buying to a 1:many ad buying model.

Indeed, programmatic spending in 2021 hit $105 billion and is projected to increase in 2022 to $123 billion, over 90% of total digital ad spend.

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This clearly shows that programmatic technology is rapidly taking over how we buy and sell advertising.

Are Your Competitors Already Investing In Programmatic Display?

If you’re interested in finding out whether your competitors are already investing in programmatic advertising, there are a few options, depending on your budget.

You can use paid-for tools such as SimilarWeb to assess competitor spending across different ad networks.

SimilarWeb is more expensive than tools such as Semrush and Ahrefs, but it does have more accurate data on website traffic, in my experience.

If you’re on a budget, you can use the free tool MOAT to check the actual creatives your competitors are running and when they were running across different ad inventory.

ad format examples; See where your competitors are advertising Image created by author, August 2022

How To Find A Programmatic Partner For Your Small Business

As you may have grasped, starting with programmatic advertising is more expensive due to platform costs (usually billed on a % of spend model). Still, the various benefits will certainly outweigh the additional costs.

There are many different platforms, but I would suggest going directly to an agency or partner with the necessary software and expertise for programmatic ad buying through an existing partnership with platforms such as Centro or StackAdapt.

More resources:


Featured Image: ArtemisDiana/Shutterstock

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Fact Checking: Get Your Facts Right

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Fact Checking: Get Your Facts Right

In the last decade or so, the concept of “fake news” has become a major thorn in the side of consumers and content writers alike.

Digital marketing experts who write SEO content at the enterprise level might not consider themselves journalists or news reporters – but there’s a greater overlap between the roles than many people realize.

Like journos, enterprise SEO content writers need to earn the trust of their audience by demonstrating authority, relevance, and experience.

And while you might think that, as a content marketing specialist, the only person you’re serving is your client or employer, the truth is that good SEO content provides just as much service to consumers.

You’re not just advertising to people; you’re helping them find answers, information, and solutions to their problems.

That’s why, for SEO content writers, getting the facts right is crucial.

“Fake news” has eroded a lot of people’s trust in media. Online content, in particular, is always fighting an uphill battle due to the oversaturation of the digital space – and the sheer amount of misinformation that finds its way into blogs and social media sites with little quality control.

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Today, fact-checking is arguably more important than ever before.

One little mistake is all it takes to lose a consumer’s trust forever.

But what does it mean to get your facts right? Is it just ensuring every name is spelled correctly, and every claim has an attributed source?

Both of these things are an important part of SEO fact-checking, but they’re only a small piece of a large puzzle.

Enterprise SEO Fact Checking Best Practices

Fun fact: Even when consumers don’t know you’re lying, Google does.

Web pages with deceptive, inaccurate, or poorly vetted content are penalized and less likely to appear in search results.

Want to avoid the wrath of the almighty algorithm? Here’s what you need to do:

Get The Basics Right

A few paragraphs back, I mentioned that fact-checking isn’t limited to correctly writing people’s names, ages, positions, and pronouns.

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Nevertheless, getting the basics right is still important. If you can’t do at least that much, then you won’t be prepared to do more in-depth fact-checking.

It’s especially important to get this information right when you’re quoting multiple people.

Not only do you need to attribute quotes and ideas to the proper sources, but you also have to make sure the information they shared with you is accurately reproduced.

Double Check Everything

If you get a quote from someone that says the sky is blue, go outside and look up, just to be sure.

Okay, that might be an exaggerated example – but you get the point.

Double and triple-check everything.

If you find a useful quote or statistic online, track down the original source. See if you can find other reliable web pages with the same information.

Don’t be afraid to do a little research yourself. Crunch the numbers and try to find corroborating evidence.

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Never take anything at face value.

Go To The Source

Speaking of tracking down the sources of stats and quotes: That’s a cornerstone of fact-checking so important, it merits expanding on now.

Have you ever had a teacher or professor tell you, in no uncertain terms, never to use Wikipedia as a source?

Well, that’s just as true when writing enterprise-level SEO content. Wikipedia might be useful in pointing you toward helpful sources, but it shouldn’t be your primary text.

Nor should any second-hand source. If another web page states something as a fact, confirm where it got that fact.

If it’s a disreputable source and you parrot it, then you become a disreputable source, too.

Understand The Information

Content writing – especially at the enterprise level and especially in an agency (rather than in-house PR team) context – often requires authors to cover many different areas of expertise in many different industries.

It can be tempting to regurgitate and plagiarize information that already exists, but if you do that, you won’t be able to offer any meaningful insights.

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You have to understand the information you’re relaying.

That will help you spot contradictions and factual errors and demonstrate genuine authority.

Is AI Automation The Future Of Fact Checking?

Enterprise-level content fact-checking requires a lot of time and effort, but cutting corners is a recipe for disaster.

Fortunately, just as it has with many other aspects of SEO, AI automation may soon be able to simplify the process.

U.K.-based independent fact-checking organization, Full Fact, has been leading the charge in recent years to develop scalable, automated fact-checking tools.

Full Fact’s efforts have already garnered the attention of the biggest names in search engine technology.

In 2019, the non-profit organization was one of the winners of the 2019 Google AI Impact Challenge, which provides funding for potentially revolutionary automation research projects.

Full Fact’s stated goal is to develop AI software capable of breaking down long content pieces into individual sentences, then identifying the types of claims those sentences represent, before finally cross-referencing those claims in real-time with the most up-to-date factual news data.

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Though Full Fact is still years away from achieving its goal, the benefits of such a breakthrough for SEO content writing are self-evident.

That said, you don’t have to wait for the future to use AI automation and other software tools to help you fact-check.

For example, the Grammarly Plagiarism Checker not only identifies duplicate content taken from another source but also highlights portions of text requiring attribution.

Commonly used enterprise SEO tools like Semrush, Ahrefs, and Moz, meanwhile, can be used to investigate a domain’s authority, helping you decide which sources are considered reputable.

Fact-checking in today’s oversaturated news and information marketplace can be intimidating at first glance. But the number of resources available to content writers is growing by leaps and bounds every day.

Making full use of these resources better enables you to win consumer trust in an age when that kind of trust is a very delicate, precious, and valuable commodity.

More resources:


Featured Image: redgreystock/Shutterstock

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