Welcome to Getting Granular

The podcast where digital marketing experts from the agency Granular talk about the latest trends, tried and true best practices, and share their unfiltered thoughts about the digital marketing industry. Programmatic Digital Strategy


What exactly is programmatic advertising? Who should use it? How do you target the right audience? Tune in to this episode of the Getting Granular podcast for answers to these questions and more!


What you’ll learn in this episode of Getting Granular:

  • What is programmatic advertising (1:30)
  • What is OTT & CTV and what are the differences (2:05)
  • Geofencing and iOS updates (4:09)
  • Who should use programmatic (6:10)
  • Examples of how to target effectively (7:49)
  • 3rd party data providers (12:22)
  • How to use data to meet goals (15:14)


Chris: The word programmatic has been thrown around more than normal over the past several months, especially if you’re in the marketing world. When you search for what is programmatic advertising, you’re hit with dozens upon dozens of search results that may or may not give you an exact clear answer.

Narrator: Welcome to Getting Granular, the podcast for digital marketing experts from the agency Granular talk about the latest trends, tried and true best practices, and share their unfiltered thoughts about the industry. Whether you’re here to learn how to grow your business, improve your digital skills, or just want to hear some Midwest PPC experts rants about digital media, you’ve come to the right place.

Chris: Welcome back and thanks once again for tuning into the Getting Granular podcast. I’m your host, Chris Cesar, senior manager of paid media here at Granular. And once again, I’m not sure how many times this is for you, but it’s definitely not the first. Anna Borchert, welcome back.

Anna: I’m excited to be here.

Chris: And remind us of your title. You’re the director of everything important?

Anna: The director of digital media at Granular.

Chris: And programmatic.

Anna: So that goes in it.

Chris: Whenever somebody asks about who you are, I just say she’s the one who’s in charge of all the important stuff and then-

Anna: And the radio specialist, the Spotify specialist, programmatic specialist.

Chris: Exactly, a little bit of everything. I mean, obviously that’s the whole reason we’re here today is to talk about programmatic advertising. So I know you and I have had this conversation, I don’t even know how many times, but if we could sum it up in one or two sentences, what exactly is programmatic advertise?

Anna: So when it comes down to it, it’s more of a general term just for different ad types and different channels. So a lot of those are going to be CTV, OTT, display, audio, apps, native. So there’s a lot that goes within it, but within each of those different channel types, there’s different targeting options and different placements for each of those. So programmatic, as a whole, is a general term for a lot.

Chris: Okay. So you used a few acronyms in there. So before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s take a step back and define a couple of those. So I guess just to start off, you mentioned CTV and OTT. What are those?

Anna: OTT is over-the-top, which basically just means any sort of content that is streamed over the top of a cable box through the internet. And then CTV is connected TV. So that’s the standard commercials that we all see when we’re watching Hulu or anything on our smart TV. There is a differentiator between those two, which we can dive into now, or if you have other specific-

Chris: No, I think that’s a good place to start.

Anna: Cool. So CTV, or that connected TV, that’s going to be, again, those commercials you are seeing on Hulu and you’re just chilling, watching on your Roku. So it’s more the device that is based on the difference of CTV and OTT. OTT, or over-the-top, is more going to be if you’re watching Hulu or a full episode player on your phone, or on your computer, or on your tablet.

Chris: Okay. So let’s take a step back. Let’s put a more concrete example on this. So I own a Vizio smart TV and I’m watching the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime TV. If I see an ad before that episode plays, what does that qualify as?

Anna: It would be a CTV. Now, if you’re watching that on your computer, that would be OTT.

Chris: Okay. So if I’m watching, I know they don’t have ads, but Disney+ on my phone?

Anna: That would be OTT. So for example, I was watching the Handmaid’s Tale last night, which just came out, and I was watching it on my TV. So I have a Google Chromecast. But because it’s Hulu on that, it’s the device, so that was a CTV ad that I saw.

Chris: I think I’m following. And I don’t know how many times I’ve asked you about this, but I’m sure this will come up again, where I don’t even know what the difference is. So I’m glad you’re here to explain.

Anna: And the good thing is that I also have a blog post on our website about this that explains it a little bit more in depth.

Chris: Very cool. That’s good to know. I’ve definitely referenced that a couple of times when I’ve had clients ask me about the differences of all these different programmatic things.

Chris: So another one of these hot button trendy topics that we hear a lot about these days is the term geofencing. So I’ve always understood it when I’ve explained it to people just as this is the location that we’re targeting people with ads. But after our discussions, you explained it sort of as that’s partly right, but not exactly 100% right. There’s some more nuance to it.

Anna: There definitely is. I mean, throughout my time in digital advertising, I’ve definitely heard kind of what you’re explaining is what geofencing is. But that’s actually not the case. So the technical technicalities of geofencing is that you are creating an imaginary fence around a particular location. So if you’re a higher ed client, for example, and you want to target people based on different high schools, then you would put a one-mile radius, two-mile radius, etc., around those particular locations. And then you can also serve the ad at that time or it saves the mobile ID and will be sent later.

Chris: Okay. So I guess to sort of jump a little bit more ahead of ourselves here. I guess, obviously, the big hot button issue right now, at least this particular day and this particular week, is the new iOS tracking updates where you can opt out of tracking. Would that have any sort of implication in terms of if I ask these apps not to track me, they won’t know my location? Or am I sort of exempt for that by still being in those locations? Do you exactly know how that’ll work?

Anna: Well, it’s not really going after those particular apps. So at this point, it’s still pretty early on, obviously, with a lot of the iOS updates. But it’s a general display ad, so unless you’re opting out of Safari or Google Chrome or anything else, it probably wouldn’t affect it as much. But I also can’t say concrete on that yet.

Chris: That makes a lot of sense. So I mean, obviously this seems to be almost an endless number of ways to target people here. So I guess who would you say is a good candidate for programmatic?

Anna: Really when it comes down to it, any client or company is going to benefit from programmatic advertising. It really just is going to depend how it fits in their marketing strategy. There’s a difference between an awareness campaign or if you’re trying to geofence someone. So what it comes down to, it depends on the KPIs and the goals because if I’m a higher ed client, again, geofencing would work really well there. But if I’m looking to drive sales about a new product, then a CTV ad in particular markets are going to make more sense.

Chris: Sure. I think this is something that I have challenges sometimes explain to people as well is, obviously, the goal behind it is always should be driving what our big need is, or what our recommended strategy’s going to be. So I think that’s a big part of it is where programmatic is more of a higher funnel type of thing, where if I’m looking for those direct sales, maybe programmatic isn’t the right way to go and there’s going to be other channels, as opposed to we’re going to be hitting people higher funneling and more of the awareness and the interest type of markets. Is that right?

Anna: Exactly. And then one of the additional aspects of programmatic is, of course, you can retarget there as well. So you can start with those higher channel funnels, but then you can retarget with most of the different ad types that we already discussed. So you can retarget on a CTV with a display ad. So there’s a lot of different things and different nuances between how you can target people at different stages of the funnel.

Chris: Okay, cool. I guess, to make this abstract a little more concrete, do we want to run through a couple of examples of when’s the best way to target people with programmatic, based on our goal?

Anna: So this was something that I was thinking about as I was hit with a running shoe ad pretty recently. If anyone in the office knows, I know you’re about to say this. A lot of us are training for a half marathon, which is why I’ve been in market for shoes.

Chris: But I think the real question is, are people actually training? Or are they just saying they’re training, Anna?

Anna: I am training. I was in market for shoes, which is why I saw this ad and was thinking about it. So in Spotify, you can buy direct. So you can go to adstudio.spotify.com. You can buy your ads, etc. So through Spotify, they recently expanded to some interest targeting, but even then it’s still pretty broad. So you’re kind of just looking at, hey, I’m a brand, I have this ad, and that’s what I’m going to do.

Anna: Now, if you buy Spotify or any sort of other audio placement via programmatic, you’re able to layer in that third party data. So we can use Nielsen data, Oracle data, etc., from all of the providers and choose people who are in market for shoes, who have a tendency or a behavior to run, and then overlay that on top of our bias. So instead of just targeting kind of everyone with, again, that broad interest of maybe health on Spotify, we’re quantifying the user based on their personas and what they are interested in.

Chris: Did you buy the shoes?

Anna: Not those ones, because someone told me about a pair of Brooks that I should buy.

Chris: I wonder who that could be probably. Probably a really smart guy who knows a lot about running. That’s just my guess though. Anyway. So Spotify seems like, where we’re buying programmatic, we have that ability to layer in those additional third-party audience data to target. Obviously, you’re looking for running shoes and they obviously found you with an ad for their running shoes.

Anna: Exactly. And then you can, again, layer in additional placements.

Chris: Cool. What about something, again, back to the CTV or the OTT types of examples where those would come into play?

Anna: I mean, there’s a couple of different ways that you can target on CTV and OTT. So the main thing with third-party data on a CTV campaign is that it targets the whole household. I live by myself. So for me, I am the household of a running shoe. Whereas for, say, a family that might not make the most sense, especially with higher ed, because you’re trying to target people who graduated high school or have completed a bachelor’s degree. Whereas that’s going to target everyone within the household.

Anna: So generally you don’t add in that third-party data. A lot of the things that you can do on CTV is choosing certain channels or different providers. So you can obviously choose Hulu, as an example, Sling TV. You can specifically target the NCAA, when different events happen, such as the Oscars.

Anna: So for example, you can target Monday night football, which for some clients, if it’s, say, something targeted towards men, like a deodorant or again, a running shoe, that’s another great example. That would be something that you could easily plop in there. Otherwise, you can also choose based on the different devices. So an example is you can choose Sling TV on a Roku, Sling TV on Amazon Fire, etc. So if you know that your consumers have a tendency to be more on Roku or be more on Amazon, then you can specifically target that.

Anna: And then where it also breaks down is what I said earlier, you can choose to target just on OTT, which is going to hit those same channels or providers just on mobile desktop and tablet, which is going to be cheaper. Or you can layer in the CTV device, which again, is going to make your budget a little bit higher and your CPMs higher. But more people tend to watch on their CTV devices, on their desktop or phone.

Chris: Sure. So I guess to me it sounds like there’s a much larger and various, as well as more nuanced, approach in terms of the targeting opportunities than in a traditional paid media campaign.

Anna: So when I create a campaign, I really look at the different nuances of what the client is and what the channels are. And then within each of those channels and ad types, what type of data, or channels providers, etc., that I can specifically target.

Chris: You mentioned providers. What do you mean specifically by that?

Anna: So providers, at least in the sense that I was just discussing, could, again, be those different channels or devices. But then also that third-party data that I had kind of mentioned previously when I was talking about that running shoe example.

Chris: Okay. So I guess, do you have, so I can process this best, just the concrete examples of who these might be. And have I heard of some of them? Or are they just companies that are just do their own sort of thing?

Anna: So as I mentioned earlier with that running shoe example, there’s third-party providers or data that you can use within targeting option. So a couple of those are going to be Dun & Bradstreet, Neilson, Oracle, and Foursquare. Again, there’s a lot of different kinds, but each of those are pulling consumer data, whether it’s B2C, B2B, etc. So you can target by job titles or company size, example, for a Dun & Bradstreet. Whereas, some of the other ones are going to be more consumer based and you can, again, find if someone has a purchase behavior of running shoes, or is looking at running shoes. Or, for example, with Foursquare, if they have the behavior of being at a particular place.

Chris: Sure. So Foursquare is like the OG Foursquare of I would go to a place and then check in.

Anna: Uh-huh (affirmative).

Chris: That’s very interesting. I didn’t realize that they were still even a company.

Anna: I’m pretty sure they rebranded, but it’s still based on that.

Chris: They rebrand it. Was it like Hive?

Anna: Don’t know about Hive, but I think it might be Factual.

Chris: So they may have rebranded a couple times since I used them 10, 15 years ago, at this point.

Anna: 10, 15 years ago.

Chris: I’m old now, so I don’t know what’s hip more. That’s cool. I guess we did touch a little bit more about some of them have B2B versus consumer stuff. Obviously Nielsen, we’re all familiar with, the Nielsen ratings, and our TV viewing habits being recorded and tracked. So I guess aside from the B2B versus the B2C, are there any other big differences between each of these providers?

Anna: I mean, it also depends on how they pull data. There’s some that only have behaviors, whereas others are a little bit more interest based. So with all of the providers, they definitely have different tendencies, but I don’t want to give too much away, so that people will come to us for their programmatic needs.

Chris: All right. Big secrets, guys. Give Anna a call if you need help. So I guess we did touch a little bit about what they do and what they provide. So do you want to dive a little bit more into what sorts of data these companies have. How can we use that data and information that we’re getting from these companies to properly target someone and drive a lead, or drive a sale, or drive awareness, again, depending on whatever the specific desire goal is for a campaign?

Anna: Do we want to talk about a B2B or B2C because there’s a difference.

Chris: Why not both.

Anna: Sure. So for B2C, I kind of already talked through a running shoe example. And if we’re talking B2C, more of a purchase or more of an awarenes?

Chris: Let’s call it-

Anna: Because that’ll also make it completely different as well.

Chris: Let’s call it a purchase.

Anna: If it’s a purchase, you can target people based on their purchase history. So for example, with a retail client, you can find people who have purchased at specific competitors, for examples. Target is an option that you can choose. People have purchased there. So that’s a really great way that if you have a similar store, you can target people, again, with that. Also, with any sort of interest targeting and that, you can target people if they have an interest or an affinity for your particular product or something similar.

Anna: On the more B2C of a non-specific purchase, you can target people, again, who have been to a certain place. So again, not as much the geofencing side, but more of the behavior of the person. So I think an example I had shared was, if I had checked in at a museum or if I’ve checked in at McDonald’s, for example, that would be one that I would have as a behavior. And then same thing, you can target those interests and then also break down demographics, household income, all those different kinds of options. So again, there’s a lot to it. It all depends on the client.

Chris: Is this where the big conspiracy theory comes of our phones listen to us and then show us an ad based on what we’re talking?

Anna: I only know about that conspiracy about Facebook. So that’s a whole different podcast.

Chris: All right. Stay tuned. So I guess to talk specifically about what you were talking about, again, back to the running shoe example. So if somehow I purchase a pair of Nike shoes and Adidas wanted to use that information to target me, that’s something they would be able to do?

Anna: In theory, yes. Again, it depends on the providers and what the options are, but that is something that can be done. And one of the biggest things that is happening in programmatic in general right now is how cookies are going away. And how are advertisers going to be able to target people without that? And I’ve heard rumblings about how third-party data or programmatic display, etc., is going to really be kind of the king moving forward.

Chris: Very interesting. What about B2B?

Anna: With B2B, you can, again, target a lot of the same things. So you can target company size, which is really helpful if you’re trying to target enterprise level or a Fortune 500, etc. You can also target with Dun and Bradstreet, a lot of different things. And again, it’s not only Dun and Bradstreet that have these B2B examples, but you can target based on what type of industry it is too. So if you’re trying to target the plumbing industry or the aerospace industry, etc., you can target that way, specifically, as well. So pretty similar to how you can target on LinkedIn, but not on LinkedIn, basically.

Chris: Okay. So I guess the LinkedIn thing is interesting where I could target, like you said, company size, company name, company revenue.

Anna: Not always company name.

Chris: Okay. But the size of the company and the industry.

Anna: Exactly.

Chris: That makes sense. Interesting. Very cool. So I think, obviously, there’s a ton of great information that we learned a lot about. But with that being said, this still seems to me, as we’ve had many discussions, this is still just the tip of the iceberg, where we could talk about this for 12 hours and still not be done talking.

Anna: Exactly. Because you can break down every single channel or every single ad platform, and every single audience possibility. So it’s there’s a lot to programmatic, which is what makes it so exciting for me.

Chris: It sounds to me like you’re asking for an invitation back to talk more about programmatic.

Anna: Always. I can always talk and rant and get really excited about programmatic.

Chris: You heard it here first. This is not just the programmatic podcast. This is part one of the programmatic podcast series.

Anna: I think next time we can dive a little bit more into connected TV, since people have been home more often now and connected TV is really starting to drive more awareness and get more users.

Chris: Home more often. I’ve just been home all the time for the last seven years. Because I just sit at home all day and watch TV and play video games. That’s right. There’s nothing else going on in the world. Or did I miss something?

Anna: Absolutely nothing has changed.

Chris: Well, again, learned a lot today. Thanks again for joining us Anna, and look forward to having you back to talk more about this.

Anna: I’m excited to continue to talk about programmatic.

Chris: Thank you to all the listeners again today for tuning into the Getting Granular podcast. Be sure to like and subscribe so you don’t miss out on any PVC tips, tricks, or news in the digital marketing world. Once again, I’ve been your host, Chris Cesar. Thanks for getting granular with us today.