Many marketers who are new to the programmatic world can fall into the trap of believing the machine will do all of their work for them. Not so.

In truth, marketers still need to develop strategies to best leverage the programmatic infrastructure that they and their partners have put in place.

At a basic level there are four common approaches marketers will employ in a programmatic world: prospecting, retargeting, look-alike and account-based marketing. 


Ideally, a prospecting campaign starts with higher-level brand targeting and then uses the initial results to optimise more precisely.

This is important because marketers and business people commonly make the mistake of assuming they already know who our customers are and where those customers can be found online. By falling prey to such a bias, you risk missing out on valuable new opportunities.

The reality is that you may know less than you think.

The target audiences are not as consolidated as we tend to think.

The internet is giving people the freedom to explore an eclectic range of interests, and they tend not to move in the most predictable of orbits. This is one of the big advantages of programmatic: you get to follow the customers’ lead rather than only ever trying to corral them.

Here’s a simple example. A new marketer coming to a brand like Harley Davidson might bring with them common misconceptions and biases about the customer due to their preconceived ideas about bike riders. Instead, the customer might be a professional executive with interests you wouldn’t normally associate with a biker — such as fine wine or foreign films. So simply targeting other motorcycle sites might not always be the best way to get an ad in front of the interested prospects.

For this reason, in prospecting campaigns, marketers begin with a wide target and narrow down once the data starts to flow in and a clear picture of the real customer emerges.


If you have surfed the web then you have been retargeted. This kind of campaign uses cookie-based technologies to anonymously follow your prospects around the web.

In a retargeting campaign, the brand places a small and unobtrusive piece of code on the publisher web site — this is sometimes referred to as a pixel. This pixel is unnoticeable to the visitor and won’t affect your site’s performance.

Each time a new visitor comes to the site the retargeting code drops an anonymous cookie into the user’s browser.

As consumers move around the web, the retargeting provider is able to serve ads and ensure, for instance, that your ads are served only to people who have previously visited your site.


Look-alikes are another kind of targeting strategy. Look-alike modelling essentially finds groups of people who look and act like your best and most profitable customers.

Let’s say, for example, you run an ecommerce store and you have identified that your best audiences are people whose average purchase is about $100, they buy cosmetics and perfumes, and make a purchase at least twice a month.

Look-alike modelling helps you find more people like who fit this profile.

Account-based marketing 

Account-based marketing is less of a strategy and more of a marketing category in which programmatic techniques from the B2C world can be applied to B2B marketing using precise customer data.

In this approach individual accounts are treated as markets in their own right. This can be extremely important in B2B marketing, especially for high-value service and solutions which typically involve connecting with multiple stakeholders, influencers and decision-makers within the client accounts.

To market and sell to these accounts effectively, brands need to respond to multiple viewpoints, concerns, approaches, and incentives within each account.

Programmatic advertising not only creates a more efficient way of buying advertising by automating processes that used to generate a lot of cost, it also allows brands to make the most of most the data they have collected themselves, and data they can purchase from third-party providers.

And well-run programmatic campaigns also provide a benefit to consumers: the ads should be more relevant and better targeted to the consumer.

About the author

Mandar Dadegaonkar is the Senior Manager – Digital Marketing, Oracle which is a corporate member of the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit. Members provide their insights and expertise for the benefit of our senior executive audience. Membership fees apply.


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