Fernando Angulo, Head of Communications at data provider SEMrush, explains how programmatic helps brand consolidation.
How does SEMrush use programmatic?
The company is at a growth stage where we no longer need to build brand awareness, but rather focus on consolidating brand consideration. We know our market share; we know how many marketeers all over the world know about our services and products; but we want to be sure that they remember us. So, with programmatic, we can target every single person, every single device and say: “This is SEMrush, the company that allows you to solve your daily problems with search.”
We target our audience in different segments: SEO segment, paid advertising, social media, content marketing, and corporate. For each segment, we have a programmatic campaign showing all of the 48 different features that we offer.
We also have a tool, called Display Advertising, that our users can use to check their competitors’ programmatic campaigns and see where exactly these banners are being shown and what their potential reach and budgets are.
What are the benefits of programmatic for you?
It’s the middleman. There are hundreds of thousands of websites where your banners can be shown, and you’d need to establish a process for communicating with all of them. That process would just be too long, too heavy. With programmatic, this is all automated and the bidding is so quick that you just press a couple of buttons and all your information is shown on thousands of websites. It’s just about the numbers; how reactive you can and how proactive you can be.
How do you choose your programmatic suppliers?
All suppliers have their own offers. For us, the most appropriate are the ones covering our niches, the ones that relate to our audiences. We are not looking for restaurants or travel. We are in the digital marketing industry.
Secondly, the way they communicate with us is important: if they have omnipresence, if we can reach them through chats, if they can add us to their Slack channel… They become part of our team as well. The communication needs to be really fluid.
What are the challenges that you’re facing with programmatic?
One of the [main] challenges is in planning. When you are at the stage we are in, you basically know everyone in the industry, all of your competitors. The challenge is to go into parallel industries – for instance, the health industry, the automotive industry, the online education industry. If we take them all into account, our budget goes up really fast. But we are not sure if those audiences are ready for our products, so we need to invest more in education. So, the planning part is really important. You’re going to acquire much visibility with programmatic, but what are you going to do with that audience? They are not prepared, so you need to have a backup plan to educate them. That’s why we created this academy inside our tools – like most of the biggest SaaS platforms out there.
What are the limitations of this technology?
There are many, especially when people have ad blockers. If you look at the numbers, 50% of people are not clicking on anything vs people who click on banners or on search.
Attention is [also] something that people are going to be investing in more and more – in different creatives, different videos. Video banners are still going to be there, but their intrusion is something that companies need to change. Amazon, for example, is doing a great job: I read that around 60% of the people are not aware that, when they are searching for products on Amazon, they’re actually seeing ads. Having native platforms like Amazon to show ads is a great idea. Don’t show your products, show solutions.
And a couple of days ago, I got a banner for hair implants. I don’t have that need, so for me, the ad was useless! This is a problem for companies that don’t have a team and a target audience, and that are just wasting a lot of money.
Are you facing many issues with ad fraud?
Oh yes. Actually, this is something that worries me a lot. If you’re already an established company, you don’t need to do that because you’re doing all your branding the right way. But small competitors want to grow really fast and they’re going for ad fraud. We know the people who are doing this in our industry, and we are trying to connect with suppliers to ask about what is happening here. That’s why you need to have the right partners and all the necessary transparency.
What untapped opportunities does programmatic offer to advertisers like SEMrush?
Because [programmatic] is powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence, the possibilities are limitless. Through programmatic, you can connect with people everywhere and, with the help of artificial intelligence, in the future you will be able to predict which ones are going to use your services. Prediction is something that is about to come.