Go small, or go broke: why you shouldn’t trust programmatic marketing for PPC

What is PPC?

PPC stands for Pay-Per-Click. Simply put PPC is an image, animation, video or text ad displayed across the internet but, unlike print advertising, the advertiser is only charged when the ad is clicked.

Over time, in line with the increase in digital ad spend, the number of PPC networks has grown dramatically, these each serve ads through various publishers, which offer numerous placements, with an abundance of ad types, each in assorted formats – and every network, platform, placement, ad type and format has benefits and disadvantages depending on your advertising objective *DEEP BREATHE IN*!

Sounds like a lot to manage right? It can be, and that’s why programmatic marketing for PPC has been booming.

What are programmatic networks?

Programmatic networks claim to make the lives of small business owners, or those with limited marketing manpower, easier with a centralised, simplified platform. These ad networks claim to manage your ad placement and Real Time Bids (RTB) through advanced algorithms in order to get you, the advertiser, the best Cost-Per-Click possible.

But, as often happens when someone claims to drastically increase your KPIs overnight, you get the sense that the emperor has no clothes. As it turns out he’s stark bollock naked! There are serious transparency issues with programmatic marketing that are costing advertisers.

What are the disadvantages of programmatic advertising?

BRANDED recently published an exposé of Criteo’s programmatic marketing methods (Criteo is an advertising company that provides online display advertisements). They were keeping track of the types of ads appearing on racist, extremist and misinformation sites. They then contacted some of those advertisers to see if they were aware of the types of sites their ads were being shown on, as you can probably guess, they were not.

In addition to endangering brand reputation with problematic site placements they also publish ads pretty much anywhere and everywhere to try and get clicks – maybe that sounds great if you measure success by clicks – but you shouldn’t be! Conversions are what matters. Whether that’s app downloads, email signs-up or direct sales, there is no point to a click if it doesn’t convert. “But what about brand awareness?” we hear you cry. OK fine, but if the audience clicking your ads isn’t relevant to your business, or worse still, bots are set up to simulate clicks and generate revenue for that site, then once again, clicks become pointless and cost you money.

One of the businesses BRANDED contacted with relation to Criteo’s programmatic marketing was a retailer who doesn’t ship outside the US and Canada. Once international websites were blocked, along with sites showing less-than-desirable content, their ad spend dropped from $1,200 a day to $40 a day, with no change in their conversions!

Uber’s $100million programmatic fail

If you’re a small business owner and you’re worried that this might be happening to you, take comfort in the fact that this is happening to everyone, and we mean everyone. Nandini Jammi of Check My Ads recently helped expose Uber’s wasted $100million in ad spend. This is where it gets a bit confusing, so bear with us here…

According to Nandini Jammi “one ad network launched battery saver style apps in Google Play, giving them root access to your phone. When you type the word Uber into your Google Play, it auto-fires a click to make it look like you clicked on an Uber ad and attribute the install to themselves”.

When Uber discovered this and temporarily turned off $100million worth of ads there was absolutely no change to their conversions! This is a particularly calculated scam that would only be worth it for a business as big as Uber, where the gains are in the millions of dollars, but this type of thing is happening on a much smaller scale all across the internet.

Who should use programmatic marketing?

In our opinion, no one. If your business is thinking about moving toward programmatic marketing to lighten the load and put your trust in the ‘experts’, just know that they don’t always have your best interests at heart. Remember that when it comes to marketing there’s no such thing as instant results, optimising ads and increasing conversions takes time. For one of our clients, after optimising their PPC to reach a more targeted demographic, we convinced them to double their budget and the year-on-year results were astounding:

  • Impressions are up 500%
  • Click-through-rate is up 300%
  • Conversion rate is up by 30% which works out as an additional 1,400+ downloads of their product

So listen, shameless plug, but here at t&s we think about the success of your business, not your ad spend. We work hard to ensure that your brand is promoted to the right people on the appropriate channels and isn’t tarnished by being published on, and associated with, sites containing far-right activity, homophobia, racism or sexism. Our team constantly monitors your digital ads, tailors them to your brand objectives and always strives for improvements.

We succeed when you succeed. What have you got to lose? Get in touch at hello@tandsadvertising.co.uk