Preparation is critically important to the success of an advertising campaign. The advertiser and their agency have already completed lots of work to determine audience, the purpose of the campaign, the key performance indicators, the flight, the budget and the messaging. Compelling creative has been developed to show the products in use, to show the feeling you’ll get when you use the product, and the pricing and product benefits. The media agency has setup ad tags in their ad server, which is a whole different type of ad operations work. So, when the media campaign gets to a programmatic buying team here is the prep work that goes into setting up the campaign for success.


Step 1 – Campaign Architecture

Develop a strong proposal. Even before you’ve won the campaign you are setting up the targeting to illustrate how you’ll achieve the campaign goals. In doing so the programmatic buyer is setting up a framework for the campaign. Sites, context, audience data and safety are the key elements of this step for the buyer. Share with the client exactly the types of sites the ads will run on, and the types of ads that will run. A recent proposal for an advertiser required us to target female skewing sites. We’ll look at past campaigns with similar targets to identify available sites that fit this requirement.

Contextual targeting is also important, and usually, there are multiple opportunities to target similar types of audiences. Providers including DoubleVerify, Integral Ad Science, Peer39 and Google all provide elements of contextual targeting. Look for combinations of really granular targeting, and larger category targeting to get a feel for the types of targets that are available.

Audience data is key to many programmatic campaigns because there is so much of it, and they work well. We’ll use keywords to find targets that speak to our audience targets. We’ll know from past campaigns which audience providers work best for our campaigns. Through The Trade Desk’s Data Alliance audience data is available as a percentage of spend, rather than the traditional model of CPM for the data. This is a helpful opportunity for campaigns that are looking to achieve direct response goals.

Detail in the proposal whether you’ll be using email address or remarketing data to target known users.

Finally, layer in safety and fraud prevention tools that we intend to use. You, or the client, may want to use Moat to ensure viewability, IAS to anti-target certain types of content, or TrustMetrics to limit the campaign to a specific approved site list.

Communicate the construct of the campaign to the media agency and help them know with more granularity the detail in which we intend to reach the target audience.


Step 2 – Campaign Setup

With a good portion of the hard work behind us, there’s usually a back and forth about the specific campaign parameters. Tags are sent over, and the now is the time to setup the technical aspects of the campaign in the DSP. A key element of this process is ensuring the tags are working correctly. Upload the creative and ensure the tags result in creative that animates properly and that clicks.

Ensure that all remarketing pixels have been placed, ideally some time after the campaign was approved and before the campaign launches so that we can develop a remarketing audience. Along with that audience comes the opportunity to develop look-a-like audiences. Confirm that the pixel setup for the conversion path is firing properly

Set the campaign specific parameters like budget, flighting and frequency caps. This is important as daily spend caps and campaign spend caps are going to be a safety net that catches any potential over spending strategies.

Identify whether a cross-device attribution partner will be set.

Related to the overall campaign spending is setting up the daily spend budgets, and the strategy spend budgets. While the campaign is going to get shuffled around as new strategies are introduced and under-performing ones are cut, it’s always important to keep track of daily spending and strategy spending on the outset. By doing this we ensure the campaign is setup to pace evenly.


Step 3 – Strategy Setup

Setup the campaign strategies.There are two elements to consider here. The first is that we’re going to implement the buy we proposed earlier. A lot of the research work has been done in the proposal stage, so a framework is already in place.

The second is that we’re looking to setup ongoing testing opportunities between similar strategies. There are usually 1-2 remarketing strategies. Between contextual targeting and audience targeting there are ample opportunities to test. For example, contextual targets often offer a hierarchy of data. So, test the larger category, say Home and Garden, and then test the sub-category of Home Furnishings (if that’s right for the campaign). This way you can see reporting across relevant targeting and look directly at conversions, CPM and CTR tied to these granular targets. The same principle goes for data targeting. Use competitive data targets to see if one performs better than the other. Maybe you’ll use iBehavior’s Home Furnishing purchase intent segment, and compare it with performance from Datalogix segment for Home Furnishings. When doing this be sure to look at purchase behavior (like intent to purchase vs frequent purchasors) and how well the audience has been confirmed. In some Blue Kai segments tied to demographics there are levels of validation for audiences. The more validated the audience the smaller it is.


Step 4 – Optimization

Optimize the campaign. Look at the strategies that are working, and those that aren’t. See which ones are spending to pace, and which are hitting metrics tied to conversions, eCPM, CTR and viewability. Look at aggregate reporting to ensure the campaign is working in total. Look at each strategy individually and ensure it is contributing to the campaign in some way. The majority of time working on a campaign happens here. Other points of optimization include looking at site, and performance by site, looking at performance by creative, and making connections between performance and viewability.

The success of the campaign will be determined partly by the way it is setup. A strong prep that will ensure that both the client and the buyer have alignment on the campaign and the way it’s supposed to perform. The more communication that is developed during the process, the better the campaign will perform.