The Role of Programmatic Advertising in Small Business Growth

Programmatic Advertising

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, somewhere around 20% of small businesses go under in their first year. The rate of failure only increases year by year – by the fifth year, the chance of failure is 50%, and by the tenth year, it’s 70%.

Programmatic advertising is the marketing strategy that allows small businesses to achieve growth where other SMEs wither away.

Using an automated digital platform, you can serve targeted digital ads to your most desirable consumers while working within the confines of a low budget and other challenges.

The result? Growth in the form of increased brand awareness and sales by reaching more of the people who are most likely to buy from you, and fewer of those who aren’t.

Let’s explore how it works.

What is Programmatic Advertising?

In a nutshell, programmatic advertising uses an automated system – called a demand-side platform (DSP) – to bid on website ad space and serve ads that are tailored to the different types of internet users who are clicking on the website.

Critically, though, it’s not just your bid amount that determines whether or not your ad will be served. The DSP also factors in certain criteria (which you specify) about the user and the website itself.

This means that when a user clicks on a website, whichever of your ads matches their demographics, content preferences, or online behavioral patterns – or any other criteria you chose — the best is the one they will see.

Such an ad is more likely to resonate with the user and spark their interest in whatever it’s promoting or selling. From there, sales conversion becomes possible.

Advantages Of Programmatic Ads Over Traditional Advertising Methods

Programmatic advertising boasts several advantages over more traditional advertising methods, like direct buying, especially for small businesses. Let’s go over some of them now.

1. Efficiency and Automation

Programmatic advertising is quick, efficient, and totally automated. These qualities make it a “set it and forget it” form of marketing that’s helpful for small business owners who are juggling a lot of plates at one time.

2. Enhanced Targeting Capabilities

Because it’s automated, programmatic advertising comes with enhanced targeting capabilities that ensure your ads get to your likeliest potential consumers.

3. Real-Time Optimization

The DSP that places your ad serves it within seconds, sometimes less. This means that your ad campaign’s effectiveness is optimized in real-time, as the DSP selects the most relevant ad to show the user being targeted.

Programmatic Advertising Platforms

If you’ve never used a programmatic advertising platform before, it’s easier to access than you may think. One of the best platforms is even accessible through your Google account.

Best Programmatic Advertising Platforms Out There

To get your small business started with programmatic advertising, check out these five platforms which marketers regard as among the best.

How to Choose the Right Fit for Your Business

When determining which DSP is right for your small business, it’s important to consider factors such as:

  • How much internet user data the DSP has access to
  • How fine-tuned their criteria is
  • How many publishers they have access to (and further, how many in of them occupy a space in your particular business niche)
  • How accurate their real-time bidding is

You should also consider internal factors, like your budget. Some DSPs charge setup fees and other costs on top of the CPM you need to pay every time your ad receives 1000 impressions.

If you’re really tight on ad spend, Google Ad Manager may be the best solution, given that it’s free to get started. Google Ad Manager is a real-time marketplace partnered with the Google Display Network for buying and selling advertising. Plus, through it, you get access to all the digital publishers (i.e., websites) that use Google’s platform.

Benefits of Programmatic Advertising for Small Businesses

When you deploy an ad campaign on a programmatic advertising platform like Google Ad Manager, you instantly gain access to a wide range of potential benefits that can help your business take off.

Those benefits are:

Targeted Advertising

Targeted advertising is perhaps the most significant pro of programmatic advertising. Ads in this type of campaign are tailor-made for your target audience, so that you can hit their unique emotional touchpoints and use that as leverage to persuade them to explore or buy your product.

  • Reaching the Right Audience

When you use targeted ads, you’re more likely to reach the people who want or need your product the most.

  • Tailoring Messages for Segments

Targeted advertising also allows you to tailor multiple ad messages to appeal to multiple segments of your audience, rather than subjecting all your target consumers to a blanket advertisement that may not resonate with everyone.

Cost Efficiency

In the context of advertising, cost efficiency refers to a business’s ability to advertise effectively at the lowest cost — without compromising quality. Here’s how programmatic advertising is uniquely suited to provide this benefit.

  • Maximizing Budgets

Programmatic advertising allows you to maximize your low budget by setting up a system in which you pay less money for higher converting ad impressions.

  • Optimizing Spend

Using programmatic advertising, you can optimize your ad spend by setting caps on your bid amounts, as well as by ensuring that you only pay when your criteria for serving an ad to a target user are met.

Improved ROI

Both targeted advertising and cost efficiency lead directly to the third and most important benefit of programmatic advertising, which is improved return on investment (ROI). Take a look at how that works.

  • Tracking and Measuring Results

Programmatic advertising data can be tracked and measured overtime, which means you can monitor the results of your ad campaign and determine if they really are producing greater ROI.

  • Adapting Strategies for Better Returns

After you track and measure your programmatic advertising campaign’s performance, it’s a simple matter to adapt your advertising strategy for better returns in the future.

Strategies for Implementing Programmatic Advertising

To experience the benefits of programmatic advertising, you must first implement it. In case this is all new to you, here are some strategies to get you started on the optimal path.

Setting Clear Objectives

First, set clear objectives for your ad campaign. This step establishes a course of action that will guide the entirety of your campaign and give you benchmarks with which to evaluate the campaign’s level of success.

You may be wondering how to set objectives. It begins with defining your goals.

Defining Goals

An objective is a specific action that you plan on taking to achieve a broader, more general outcome: your goal.

So, before you set your objectives, define your goals for the programmatic ad campaign. Examples of small business advertising goals are increasing brand awareness, converting sales, and growing email subscribers.

Establishing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Next, establish key performance indicators (KPIs). These are metrics that you will refer to throughout your campaign to determine if your programmatic ad campaign is succeeding or failing.

Some examples of programmatic advertising KPIs are impressions, clicks, click-through rate (CTR), conversions, and ROI.

Identifying Target Audience

Next, identify your target audience, AKA the consumers you want your ads to reach. This process can be broken down into two basic steps: conducting audience research and creating buyer personas.

Conducting Audience Research

Audience research involves finding out everything you can about your target audience: their demographics (i.e., their gender, ethnicity, age, occupation, geographic location, etc., income level), content preferences, purchase habits, and more. These types of data are critical to performing the following step.

Creating Buyer Personas

A buyer persona is a fictional character that represents a segment of your audience based on characteristics and/or behaviors that everyone in the segment shares. Create these “characters” to guide you when you begin crafting unique ads to appeal to multiple types of people within your target audience.

Crafting Compelling Ad Creative

Here’s where all your previous efforts in implementing programmatic advertising culminate: in crafting compelling ad creative.

Below are two strategies we recommend you try for maximum success in this process.

1. Storytelling through Ads

With your objectives and target audience in mind, use visual and textual elements to tell a story that sells. Use emotional touchpoints to forge connections with potential consumers and persuade them that your product is their happy ending.

2. A/B Testing Creatives

Finding the ad creative that elicits the most positive response involves trial and error. Use A/B testing to try out multiple versions of an ad on consumers and see which ones receive more clicks or accomplish your goals more effectively.

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Measuring Success and Key Metrics

Once you deploy your targeted ads on your chosen DSP, here is how you should measure their success.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Remember when we established our KPIs during the process of setting clear objectives? This is where those come in.

Monitor your KPIs’ ebbs and flows — not just day to day but over extended periods of time, as well — to identify the ad creatives that are working and those that aren’t. Next, adjust your campaign strategy wherever needed to eliminate inefficiency and deadweight, and also to maximize strategies that are bringing success.

Tools for Tracking and Analytics

Tools for tracking and obtaining analytics of your ad campaign’s performance are available on your programmatic advertising platform. We suggest utilizing those instead of paying for a separate program.

Integration with Other Marketing Channels

For best results, integrate programmatic advertising with other strategies, such as cross-channel marketing, content marketing, and email marketing. In doing so, you’ll cover more of your target audience and even tackle multiple objectives in a single, synergistic campaign.


Programmatic advertising can play a major role in small business growth, if small business owners only learn about its myriad of potential benefits. These include targeted audience reach, cost efficiency, and improved ROI, but also seamless integration with other marketing channels.

With proper implementation, SMEs can use this strategy to overcome the obstacle of limited resources and scale upward, overcoming all odds.

Alise Zaiceva

Alise is a content marketing manager at Setupad. Having worked in the adtech industry for more than three years, Alise has developed a strong attention to detail and research, as well as a passion for technology. Her work with content is aimed at helping publishers scale their businesses through powerful digital marketing strategies. Alise believes in the supremacy of holistic website optimization for incremental revenue gains.

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