What Is Programmatic Search?

3 min read · 7 years ago


Whether or not you’ve heard the term “programmatic search” thrown around yet, it all comes down to the fact that programmatic advertising is growing faster than ever. Last year, programmatic revenues made up 20% of all online advertising revenue. And eMarketer estimates that U.S. advertisers currently purchase 55% of their digital display ads programmatically – so why not search ads? What’s stopping us? For starters, search is essentially a form of RTB (real-time bidding), which is a form of programmatic buying. However, a few things need to occur first before search can be fully programmatic.

What Programmatic Search Is (or Could Be)

PPC search ads use different bidding strategies intended to drive clicks or conversions (form fills or phone calls). It is an automated buying process, which is the precise definition many people give programmatic. However, to truly be considered programmatic, search ad buying would need to also be powered with more advanced insight into our audience. Who are we targeting, specifically? What are their behaviors and demographics? Right now in AdWords, for example, search marketers are limited to using remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA) to retarget people who have visited their website before and performed (or not performed) a particular action (filled out a form, made a purchase, abandoned a shopping cart, etc.). That’s about as targeted as you can get audience-wise.

Instead of solely buying based on keywords, programmatic search would allow marketers to use audience insights to power both how and to whom their search ads get displayed. Take a luxury hotel marketer. They currently bid on keywords they hope will drive the right audience of people searching for a luxury hotel to their website. With audience-powered programmatic search they could set additional bid parameters for people with a household income of $150,000 or more, or who have traveled in the past year. While this level of targeting may drive up CPCs, you’re sending more qualified traffic to your website.

What Programmatic Search Needs to Come to Life

I just painted a picture of what programmatic search could look like. In order for that to come to life a few things need to happen and it will have to be a collaborative effort. Here are a few ideas and progress that has already been made:

1. Deeper integration between AdWords/bid management tools, DSPs, and audience insight platforms.

Using audience insights to influence PPC bids is key to evolving programmatic ad buying to include search. We’re unable to do this without integrating the tools we use to manage bids, programmatic buys, and audience behaviors and demographics.

2. Adobe’s new programmatic ad buying announcement.

Adobe’s recent announcement of a new “self-service” technology that allows advertisers to take control of automated ad buying is one example of how we’re taking a step in the right direction. It’s powered by Adobe Media Optimizer and uses Adobe Analytics and Adobe Audience Manager to “target granular audience segments.”

3. DialogTech’s new partnership with IgnitionOne and Boost Media.

This partnership was recently announced and is designed to further help marketers use online web and offline phone call data to identify custom audiences and create personalized and relevant messaging to drive more conversions.

What Programmatic Search Will Need to Be Optimized

As search continues to go mobile, it’s driving billions of calls to businesses. While this is a good thing for many businesses (ROI goes up the more people tap that click-to-call link on their smartphones), it adds another complicated piece in the programmatic attribution puzzle. Call tracking solutions that provide us with a pool of numbers with which to use in our search ads will help solve this issue when we begin buying PPC ads programmatically.

Integration is crucial here as well. By integrating call analytics with bid management platforms search marketers can automatically allocate bids for the keywords driving online and offline call conversions. Take Sq1, they helped their client increase phone leads from search by 75% (decreasing cost per call by 65% at the same time) by integrating DialogTech’s call tracking data into their bid management platform, Kenshoo. To optimize for phone calls, programmatic search will require the same kind of integration.

And then we can work with tools that give us insight into conversations, listening for words and phrases that can allow us to optimize our keyword strategy and personalize who we target with our programmatic search bids.

If you want to learn more about the future of using audiences to power paid search, register for our webinar with IgnitionOne and Boost Media on September 30th.

This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: What Is Programmatic Search?

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