Programmatic RTB is a viable channel at every level of the marketing funnel. It can go out into the wild and find new customers, it can reach users who are in the market for a product but not familiar with a brand, remind soon to be customers, and even ping existing customers for upselling. Each level of the funnel requires unique strategies to successfully drive a user further down the funnel.
Note: It is true the marketing funnel does not exist as solidly as it used to. With a variety of digital channels, users can enter and exit during any stage. Luckily for RTB this proves to be an advantage: segmentation can easily identify where a user is the in the funnel, and seamlessly move them between each stage.
The goal of awareness is to put the brand’s message in front of consumers. Before a consumer is even in the market for your product, they should be aware of your brand and its attributes. With very simple targeting (like basic demographic, categorical, or geographic) RTB can pump out impressions like no other channel. A run of network campaign can produce millions of impressions for only a few thousand dollars.
The goal of consideration is to prove your product is the best for solving a potential customer’s problem. By using 3rd party data a brand can target users who are already in the market for a specific product or service. If a consumer has been researching a product on a competitor’s website, RTB can identify them and serve ads with strong messaging about the benefits of your product. This is a very focused strategy which uses a combination of behavioral, demographic, psychographic, and geographic targeting. Users seeing these ads place your brand into their consideration set, and research it further.
The goal of conversion is to drive revenue. RTB can use retargeting to identify high value users who have been to your site, or even begun the checkout process, and serve them highly relevant ads. This audience size can be small and more expensive to reach, but when a user is close to a purchase, often times they only need a reminder to go back and complete the purchase. These ads reach users wherever they go - following them to their favorite sites and apps. These ads can even use dynamic creative which shows ads that contain the specific products the user looked at while on the site. Retargeting is the powerhouse of RTB. It has high costs and low impression volume, but delivers incremental conversions.
After a user completes a purchase they are moved from the conversion audience to loyalty. Here they see ads much less often. These ads have a wide variety of uses - some brands promote new updates to their products, others identify consumers who haven’t purchased in a long time and reach out to them. Sometimes a consumer only needs to see the brand name to recall their experience with the product, which can drive a repeat purchase
Programmatic RTB is capable of reaching users at any stage of the funnel. Its audience segmentation seamlessly moves users between stages, and can even identify new users who start at a deeper stage. It is important to spread your marketing budget between each stage: A campaign without retargeting won’t drive many conversions. A campaign without awareness or consideration will fail to fill the upper funnel, and lose conversions down the road. Other strategies, like native, search, social, and video, can be layered in each step to bolster results as well.