Programmatic marketing: Why call tracking is critical to its success

Category: Call tracking

Right product, right place, right time. Regardless of all the technological advances we make, it’s the one thing that doesn’t change for marketers.

Increasing competition, media fragmentation and dwindling attention spans mean you need to identify and engage your audience in the quickest and most profitable way.

Programmatic marketing brings speed and responsiveness to online advertising, making it incredibly effective for real-time targeting. Consequently, it’s critical to understand how your consumers are responding to your advertising efforts in order to maximise your ROI. Call tracking provides you with this data.

What is programmatic marketing and how does it work?

Programmatic marketing is the practice of delivering targeted messages, prompted by a specific event, to your most valuable customers and prospects. These campaigns are designed to drive conversions by engaging – and re-engaging – with consumers in the most effective and efficient way.

The events that trigger programmatic marketing campaigns are defined by business rules and software algorithms. The types of campaigns vary, but can include:


Remarketing helps you reach prospects who have previously visited your website. This works by adding a remarketing tag (a small piece of code) to your website. When a user visits a website and leaves without converting, they are served with a banner ad from your website on subsequent sites they visit.

Personalised retargeting:

Remarketing ads become smarter by personalising them based on a user’s past actions on your site. For example, a consumer visits your website and browses products A, B and C, then leaves without converting. The user will then be retargeted with an online ad featuring products A, B and C. Taking this further still, you can target users who began an order and abandoned their transaction by serving them ads with the actual product sat in their shopping basket!

Buy, buy, BUY!

There are many different ways of buying advertising inventory. One of the fastest growing methods is by real-time bidding (RTB):

When a consumer visits your website, the browser communicates with an ad server – the technology that places adverts on websites. The server then sends a message to an ad exchange with information about that user, such as the IP address, location and details of the website the consumer is visiting. As an advertiser, you – or your media buyer – send a bid electronically to the ad exchange via a demand-side platform (DSP). The buyer who bids the highest wins, and an ad is served when the website loads. This process typically takes about 100 milliseconds.

Incorporate call tracking into your programmatic campaigns

Programmatic marketing is all about data. Data guides the buying process: You can choose whether to show a user an ad based on their gender, age, browsing history, location, interests, purchase history and more. Mining your own data, such as that from your CRM system, is ideal for identifying your target audience.

The characteristics you define will determine where and when your ad is displayed, you specify your maximum bid and the technology automates and optimises the buying process.

Data is also created through campaign results, allowing you to refine your campaigns and targeting, significantly improving your ROI. However there’s a problem: Most reporting systems will only show you online response.

What happens when a lead calls you?

Call tracking data bridges the gap between your marketing efforts and the offline response. It’s a critical piece of the puzzle, able to capture detailed information about your callers – such as who they are and which advert they are responding to.

This data enables you to understand what aspects of your marketing efforts are the most effective at producing qualified leads and enquiries. It can also identify the campaigns that aren’t performing well – ensuring that you focus your budget in the right areas to get results.

Jargon buster

There’s no question that programmatic advertising is complicated – full of technical terminology and acronyms. To get you started, we’ve listed a few of the basics below:

  • Real-time bidding (RTB): Purchasing media through an ad exchange on a ‘bid for impression’ basis. At a basic level, buyers bid for consumers in an auction and the highest bidder wins.
  • Ad Exchange: Technology that facilitates the auction of online advertising inventory from multiple ad networks. Major ad exchanges include Google’s Doubleclick and Rubicon Project (now known as Magnite).
  • Ad Server: A web server, backed by a database server, which stores the actual adverts and delivers them to website visitors.
  • Demand-side platform (DSP): Used by media buyers to manage their bids and to plan, execute, and optimise their digital campaigns.
  • Supply-side platform (SSP): Links to an ad exchange on the publishers side, allowing them to manage their advertising inventory yield.

Tracking calls is critical to programmatic success

The increasing popularity of programmatic buying is encouraging marketers to divert more of their budget to digital. Call tracking is vital to these marketers – providing them with the intelligence needed in order to make critical decisions about how to allocate their marketing budget.

About the author - Natalia Selby

Marketing Executive at Mediahawk, with 20 years experience in analytics and content management.

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