Make Programmatic The Cornerstone Of Your Content Strategy

Native programmatic has been a buzzy new development in display ads, but for our clients, the real value is in content. Native programmatic ads are the best way to find your audience, or identify a new one, maximizing the reach of your content and ensuring limited budget waste. Here’s how it works, and how it could work for you.


In brief, native programmatic refers to the ability to place an ad unit “natively” – within the natural content and layout of a website, ideally not distinguishable from that site’s owned content. Your article or video will appear as though it’s produced or “sponsored” on a given publisher. The “programmatic” takes care of how it gets there, referring to the data and algorithms at play to ensure your ad is served to the most valuable people, at the lowest cost, where ever they are in that advertiser’s network of publishers.

That’s a mouthful, and it can make native programmatic feel inaccessible, as though any business wishing to capitalize on the known behaviours of its target audience (so, every business) needs to master the ways of Big Data before they can do so. Here at 88 Creative, many of our clients are small to medium-sized businesses looking to stretch their dollar and reach the right people with a slim margin of error. That’s why I’m so excited about StackAdapt, a Toronto-based native programmatic ad platform that’s been killing it with our clients.

If you’re a SMB, or, you work on them often like I do, native programmatic is offering what excited us about social back in the aughts: the ability to reach many people, your people, with little investment. This time, that power is more predictable, with comprehensive behavioural (who you’re finding) and contextual (where they’re seeing you) targeting.

So, why StackAdapt over a competitor like Taboola or OutBrain? Quality in context. Most of us are most familiar with the type of programmatic that promises us “One Weird Trick!” haunting the footer of Hollywood Life articles in grids of 6-9 bone-chilling thumbnails. It would be difficult for me to look a client in the eye if I was placing them squished between a questionable mobile game and Lori, the suburban mom making $65,000 a week from her garage. StackAdapt works only with high-quality publishers and brands, and are transparent about where your ads show up. I have confidence no one’s mistaking my clients for Nigerian Princes.

Sold yet? Great. Here’s what to do next.

Make your content GOOD: Value-add, well thought out, informative. We’re not trying to dupe people into stumbling into our little corner of the internet with clickbait headlines and three paragraphs of fluff. That content can be video (StackAdapt supports auto-play video!), it can be written, it can be whatever – it just has to be good.

Make the logo smaller: Banner ads and their 0.01% clickthrough rate definitively taught us that no real person wants to click on an advertisement. Isn’t that why we stopped making microsites and started making content? Programmatic, in this instance, is a branch of a content strategy, not the cool new way to distribute a resized print ad. Use programmatic to talk to people, not at them, so be approachable and as unbranded as you can stand.

Brace for impact: Despite being able to set a ceiling, your CPC will go up – but that’s not all bad. Social ads often have accidental clickthroughs, meaning your metrics in Facebook Ads manager, for example, are often artificially inflated by people with no intention of reading your content or interest in your brand. With native programmatic, the CTR might be lower than a comparable format, but those clicks will be coming from the right people, and “accidental” clicks are much less likely. If you’re doing it right, the average time your users spend on a page will go up, which is how you’ll know you’ve matched content, ad unit, and target market and created a seamless experience for the right eyeballs.

Meaghan is the digital strategy lead at 88 Creative. She wants to talk about programmatic for you and your clients at meaghan@88creative.ca