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SMBs Are Ready To Go ‘Native Programmatic’

As small businesses have been concentrating their marketing budgets in social media, the expansion of automation promises a greater range of ad choices.

Simpli.fi's Frost Prioleau
Simpli.fi’s Frost Prioleau

Over the past year, local businesses have been spending more on social media than any other category in the face of disappointment with general online ad metrics, particularly in mobile.

And while the view of the larger agency world considers SMBs too “unsophisticated” or uninterested in integrating their social media marketing with automated channels to take advantage of those algorithmic methods, 2016 will prove those opinions wrong, says Frost Prioleau, CEO of local programmatic platform Simpli.fi.

For one thing, the expansion of “preferred marketing partners” to connect all kinds of advertisers to the audiences of Facebook, Twitter, and, more recently,Pinterest, has helped change some minds. But in the Prioleau’s estimation, the tide is being turned by previously untapped SMBs.

“Native programmatic for SMBs is very real and will become even more available and accessible in 2016,” Prioleau said. “Programmatic exchanges such as Google AdX and [Twitter’s real-time bidding platform and ad server] MoPub that have launched native solutions and native-focused exchanges like TripleLift are increasing their supply of native inventory.”

Prioleau sees these platforms as “a great addition to the programmatic mix for SMBs,” who traditionally have struggled with programmatic platforms focused on national advertisers and pre-packaged audience segments.

In terms of Simpli.fi’s work with SMBs, Prioleau pointed to the use of unstructured data rather than pre-packaged audience segments has helped local target local audiences. With those targets in place, and by dint of the Fort Worth, TX-based company’s relationships with local publishers, it has increasingly been able to match native inventory and advertisers.

Still, the idea of SMBs putting in the time to create original content that can then be “scaled” to in their local markets, as opposed to just paying for a traditional ad, seems daunting. But Prioleau suggested that is no longer an issue.

In any case, the threat of mobile ad blocking has been a primary impetus for SMBs to explore native marketing options more closely.

“Already gaining critical mass prior to Apple’s decision to allow ad blockers in iOS 9, native advertising will experience tremendous growth as publishers seek ad formats that are less invasive to users and less likely to be blocked,” Prioleau said. “Advertisers will shift increased dollars to native as more native inventory becomes available programmatically. Native ads will make up a bigger piece of the revenue that publishers need to continue to deliver online content at no cost to readers.

“Other good news for SMBs that want to focus on programmatic is that the inputs for native ads are becoming standardized so that an advertiser can just submit one graphic, one headline, and one string of body text, and the exchanges will automatically format those inputs as native ads across multiple sites or apps,” he said. “SMBs can access these channels through their local-focused media companies, networks, and/or agencies, many of which work with a platform like Simpli.fi to deliver their programmatic offerings.”

Among Simpli.fi’s other 2016 predictions:

  • Improved Monetization Drives Programmatic from Remnant to Requirement

Advertisers’ increased focus on buying human-viewed impressions is raising CPMs for high-quality inventory. This in turn is encouraging premium publishers to monetize more and more of their high quality inventory through programmatic channels. Microsoft’s decision earlier this year to monetize 100 percent of their inventory through programmatic in some European countries is an example of this trend. Increases in CPM yields through header bidding and better use of data will also give programmatic monetization a boost.

  • Move to Multi-Channel Campaigns from Siloed Campaigns.

National advertisers have increasingly optimized media spend via multi-channel campaigns instead of separate campaigns focused on mobile, desktop, social, video, etc. In 2016, localized advertisers will follow suit in demanding that they reach their prospects on “any device, any media, at any time.” Advertisers see improved ROI with multi-channel, as dynamic allocation to the best performing media, formats, and devices drives improved campaign performance.

  • Local and SMB Advertisers Shift Goals from Awareness to ROI

Local advertisers, like national advertisers, will continue to become more knowledgeable and sophisticated about how they use programmatic advertising. Traditionally, locally-focused campaigns have been run with a goal of “awareness.” 2016 will usher in a trend where more local advertisers will focus on ROI metrics and become increasingly interested in campaign insights and analytics to further guide their media strategies.

“We see 2016 as a year in which smart advertisers will stop spending their budgets in silos, and will accelerate adoption of the tools that they need to optimize their spend across the increasingly high-quality media and device types available programmatically,” Prioleau said. Localized advertisers will also become more focused on ROI-based metrics and audience insights to ensure that they are getting the most from their advertising spend.”