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Doug WongJanuary 24, 20244 min read

What you should know about programmatic advertising metrics

Whether you’ve previously run programmatic advertising or not, now is the time to think about it in terms of an integrated campaign. While it’s a powerful standalone tactic, coupling it with another like content syndication or managed email can boost the success of your marketing strategy.

What is programmatic advertising?

Programmatic advertising is an automated way of buying and selling digital advertising. Whereas the traditional method includes requests for proposals, tenders, quotes and human negotiation, programmatic advertising enables brands or agencies to purchase ad impressions on publisher sites or apps within milliseconds.

Think of programmatic as a stock market of digital media where purchases are intelligently directed toward those properties that have the greatest potential to deliver the best results at a price point that optimizes spend in real time.

Types of programmatic ads

Programmatic advertising is an effective way to get in front of your next customer across the channels where they spend their time. Programmatic ads come in so many types and formats. Some examples include:

  • Standard display ads
  • Video banner ads
  • Skin ads/ Takeover ads
  • Audio ads
  • Interstitial ads
  • Expandable ads
  • Connected TV ads

The types, formats and placements of your ads largely depend on the goal of your campaign and the audience you’re trying to reach.

Programmatic advertising metrics

Programmatic display advertising is such a powerful tool for B2B marketers because its performance can be monitored in real-time. With just a glance at a dashboard, marketers can know how many ads have been served and how many clicks have been generated.

The success of your programmatic advertising campaign can be easily measured and depends on the goals of your campaign. Metrics are vital in tracking individual tactics, but without the context of how each piece fits into the revenue strategy, metrics can be misleading. This is particularly true in B2B, where programmatic display is integral to virtually every phase of an account’s complex purchase journey.

Core programmatic display advertising metrics 

The most basic of programmatic advertising metrics are total impressions served and the click-through rate (CTR) on those impressions. These are the building blocks of programmatic ad metrics.

  1. Click-Through Rate (CTR): It is the ratio of users who click on an ad to the number of total users who view the ad (expressed as a percentage). A higher CTR indicates a more engaging ad.
  2. Impressions: An impression is counted when an ad is shown on a user’s device. It gives you an idea of the potential reach of your ads, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the user has seen or interacted with the ad.
  3. Cost per click (CPC): Is based on impressions and CTR. It’s the cost you pay for each click on your ad. This metric is relevant for campaigns focused on driving traffic to a specific website or landing page.
  4.  Cost per thousand (CPM): Also known as cost per mille. It’s the rate you are paying based on impressions, which can vary based on the terms of your agreement. It represents the cost of 1,000 impressions. you pay for every thousand times your ad is displayed, regardless of clicks. Many DSPs offer a bidding range for impressions, and that variance is sometimes described as dynamic cost per thousand (dCPM).

You can think of these as the big four metrics – they are always relevant, although their importance to a specific campaign’s success depends on the customers’ purchase journey stage and what impact you’re trying to have on their decision process.

Some other metrics to monitor throughout our program are:

  1. Cost Per Acquisition (CPA): This metric measures the cost of acquiring a customer. It’s calculated by dividing the total campaign cost by the number of conversions or acquisitions.
  2. Conversion Rate: The percentage of users who completed a certain action out of the total number of users who clicked on the ad. Conversions could be sales, sign-ups, or other goals you set at the beginning of your campaign.
  3. Viewability: This metric measures the percentage of ad impressions that are considered viewable. If you’re not getting high enough viewability this could be a sign you need to optimize your ads.
  4. Ad Fraud Rate: The percentage of fraudulent or non-human traffic within a campaign. Ad fraud can artificially inflate metrics and waste advertising budgets. If you’re ad fraud rate is too high, you may want to consider shifting your strategy to other channels to prevent the spam traffic.
  5. Return on Ad Spend (ROAS): This is calculated by dividing the revenue generated from the ad campaign by the cost of the campaign.
  6. Frequency: The average number of times a user sees the same ad. Managing frequency helps prevent ad fatigue and ensures a better user experience. When you start your campaign you’ll set frequency caps to help.

Understanding programmatic metrics

Metrics have vastly different significance, depending on whether you’re running a branding campaign or a transactional campaign.

Take, for example, CTR. If you’re trying to elevate brand awareness for an upcoming product launch, a short animation may well have all the impact you’re looking for, and CTR isn’t a make-or-break metric. If you’re running full video creative, CTR is even less significant. In fact, a very high CTR might indicate that your audience is a little too narrow for your goal.

However, if you’re looking to convert growing interest in your product launch into a spec sheet download, CTR becomes a far more critical indicator. It indicates how well you refined your audience by job role and additional targeting intelligence, including purchase intent. It’s no wonder B2B marketers get excited about tracking programmatic results.


Doug Wong

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