The programmatic industry is known for its breakthroughs in data and media.
But when it comes to creative formats, innovation has fallen short. Programmatic ad units are largely still the same banners and pre-roll videos of 10 years ago, which don’t perform as well as the in-feed native ads consumers see on social.
Instagram and Facebook ads drive 10x better engagement and awareness than standard display ads on average because people have become used to engaging with them, said Sean Muzzy, president of Cadreon in North America. As a result, publishers have created their own mobile units that mimic social ads.
But until recently, those ad units were only available through direct deals with publishers, not programmatically. So Cadreon partnered with ad tech provider Polar to create a marketplace of these ads with over 100 premium publishers including BuzzFeed, News Corp and Everyday Health, allowing brands to programmatically extend their social ads to the open web.
Six clients are currently testing the marketplace across North America, Australia and The Netherlands, with more clients and markets launching in January 2020.
“When you’re on a publisher site, it’s like you’re seeing an Instagram or Facebook ad,” Muzzy said. “We’ve integrated it into the workflow, so it’s easy for our clients instead of having to work with 100-plus different sites or buys.”
In search for better performing creative, financial services organization TIAA tested Cadreon’s marketplace. Cadreon tagged TIAA’s best performing social ads in its DSP to extend the same creative onto publishers’ mobile sites.
Through the marketplace, TIAA was able to save time and money on production costs by reusing creative it was already running on social. It also ensured strong performance by extending creative that it knew was already seeing success on social.
“There are inherent cost savings, but at the same time, were getting more optimized creative with better conversions,” said Karen Belt, senior director of media strategy and buying at TIAA.
TIAA is still testing the marketplace and waiting on results, but Cadreon saw strong performance for its other clients. A global travel brand, for example, saw a 45% increase in brand awareness and a 0.6% engagement rate; a global entertainment brand saw a 67% increase in brand value and 14 seconds of in-view time; and a local business saw a 40% lift in brand awareness.
“We’re trying to break through in a more interesting way that people wouldn’t normally see in the native landscape,” Belt said. “It will be another piece of the puzzle we use to try to meet our business objectives.”
For Cadreon, new creative formats in programmatic, especially in areas like ecommerce and dynamic creative, will remain a focus heading into 2020 – so that creative innovation is not just left to the social platforms.
But not all publishers make these native social-style ad units available, so scaling the marketplace will be a challenge. For now, these ad units are only available on mobile, as the user experience doesn’t render as well on desktop, Muzzy said.
Cadreon is already adding more publishers to its marketplace and extending it to the open exchange with custom whitelists and blacklists to ensure quality. And as more social ad units become available from premium publishers, it will bring them into the marketplace.
“There’s been a lot done from a data-driven marketing standpoint,” Muzzy said. “But we need to be doing more with creative to help our clients get the most out of their media investment.”