Why You Should Pair Programmatic Advertising with Paid Search

While experienced search marketers are quite familiar with auctions, the programmatic auction is a different beast.

Navigating the ins and outs of programmatic advertising can be a lot harder than launching a Google Ads campaign.

For this reason, the two often don’t work together.

This is also true for other types of online marketing channels.

Until recently.

Now, we’re seeing powerful new examples of programmatic being paired with other marketing channels.

Programmatic is on the rise – and your competitors are already winning with it.

By combining the power of programmatic with your existing PPC, SEO, and even content marketing strategy (you have existing strategies for all those, right?!), you’ll understand why marketers are learning to embrace real-time bidding (RTB).

How Programmatic Can Help Paid Search

SEM specialist Steve Bayona has worked with both programmatic and paid search in his career. He thinks of these two channels like rival siblings.

While the budget issue is real, can’t they all get along?

They can. And together they can thrive! But for a price.

When it comes to paid search marketing, campaign managers want more. More results for their money is top of mind, and programmatic isn’t cheap.

Still, programmatic can help SEM marketers gather top-of-funnel leads. As PPC guru Jeff Baum explains:

  • Programmatic brings new top of funnel leads into the PPC conversion funnel. As a result, search marketers get more searches, traffic and conversions down the road.
  • Programmatic campaigns provide rich audience data that you can use to inform paid search campaigns, including keyword buys and ad copy.

While Baum makes a compelling argument, marketers need to make sure that they have a convincing conversion path if they’re going to entertain this type of top-funnel gathering and ad optimization from programmatic.

Again it’s a matter of accessibility and budget.

That said, Baum makes a powerful point:

Marketers must shift their mindset from “buying media” to “buying audiences.”

Backing Up Your Content Marketing with Programmatic

If you’re using programmatic, pairing it with content marketing (in addition to PPC!) can also support new and existing prospects in the buying funnel.


The answer lies in the well-timed placement.

As users surf the web, their searches, demographic information, interests, and even buying habits get cookied. Programmatic uses that search behavior to determine which ad/content to show to that person. And it’s appropriate to their stage in the advertiser’s buying cycle.

When someone is higher up in the funnel, programmatic advertisers know that. They can target those people with content rather than bottom-funnel ad messaging (e.g., discounted pricing).

It’s common to see specific content-based programmatic placements. You’ve seen them, I’ve seen them.

Take Taboola, for example. They help marketers drive traffic through content recommendations.

There are Google Display Network (GDN) ads on this page, but the sponsored content articles in the middle were likely served via programmatic auction.

Eco Watch is known as a site that has Taboola. While I’m not sure what these ads say about me (considering the level of targeting that typically coincides programmatic campaigns), the point is that these programmatic tools can be used for content marketing.

Enhancing Your Agency’s Channel Strategies

In his ebook about how to use programmatic to support content marketing, Simon Penson talks about how powerful this channel is. It doesn’t even sound real.

“What would you say, … if there was a single solution to reaching EXACTLY the right people at exactly the right time, across any and every channel in real time? It may sound like a pie-in-the-sky opportunity but … for some it already exists. That option is programmatic.”

The programmatic channel offers precise targeting. With such a rich inventory of ad spaces, this pairing can actually support many different content types, like mobile, native, video, and remarketing.

In this sense, programmatic can support almost any marketing channel.

  • Programmatic marketing can be used as part of a branding campaign.
  • It can provide an audience of people who searched for important keywords for your brand so you can create search remarketing campaigns.
  • It can measure what content topics people are engaging with so you can understand their behavior and better deliver content marketing or topic-retargeting campaigns at the right time.
  • Further down the funnel, programmatic allows marketers to geofence nearby prospects (physically near your store) and offer discounts using mobile campaigns.
  • At the end of the buying cycle, on the other side of the funnel, programmatic can help with customer retention campaigns – showing existing customers loyalty discounts, for example.

There are no limits to how programmatic can support different types of online marketing campaigns. Marketers can get pretty well rounded by employing all these techniques.

For example, with so many campaign types and audiences flying around, marketers can use programmatic to develop deeper customer personas rich with data.

Marketing agencies can, and do, also use programmatic to find cheap ad placements across so many possibilities for inventory.

Your Competitors are Already Winning with Programmatic

There are many ways to win with programmatic advertising pairings. Many marketers already are.

Programmatic advertising is expected to reach a whopping $37 billion in 2019 worldwide.

That’s half of all the advertising on the planet! Some are even saying it is the future of advertising, although that trend seems to be skewed towards the U.S. region.

We don’t know what tomorrow’s advertising landscape looks like, but we do know that programmatic has been growing year-over-year.

Since 2013, programmatic marketing has been increasing steadily:

Keep these statistics in mind. You need to understand that your competitors are already likely using programmatic.

In fact, the data suggests that more marketers – in every industry, every year – are adding this dynamic channel into their marketing mix.


Have you been avoiding programmatic because of its complexity?

Get over it.

Now is the time to learn how to use this growing channel to grow your business.

Start by supporting your existing marketing initiatives with programmatic.

Get really strategic about it.

Before you know it, you’ll be testing new programmatic inventory with enthusiasm.

More Resources:

Image Credits

All screenshots taken by author, February 2019