Programmatic RTB media buying has been around for a while, but it’s still a new concept for many mobile marketers. In a nutshell, buying mobile ads in a programmatic way means using technology to automate and optimize the mobile media buying process in real-time.

The simplest way to buy mobile ads programmatically is through advertising networks such as Google Display Network, Facebook Ads, or any demand-side platforms (DSP). These networks have their own platforms that are powered by algorithms that serve mobile ads to the advertisers’ target audience.

Mobile advertisers and mobile app marketers are excited about programmatic media buying because of efficient processes that eliminate human error and delay.

Programmatic media buying also allows you to buy the right placements at the right time, targeting the right device and location of the users. You can also buy ad placements in real time, and this allows you to send messages to your target users about a particular event, like the Super Bowl or national elections, or events in a particular country.

Launching mobile ads in real-time will also make your mobile ad campaigns hyper-relevant. You can buy placements both on mobile websites and mobile apps. At the same time, you can also set-up a mobile retargeting campaign to re-engage your viewers who visited your app or website but “left” and moved on to another site.

Here are the steps to get started with RTB programmatic media buying for mobile advertising:

Step 1: Understand your app

You probably do understand your app already, but for those who don’t, you have to be clear about the purpose of your app, its benefits to your target users, and the reasons these users should download your app.

You also need to think of marketing angles, or how you should go about marketing your app to your target audience. Your marketing angle will dictate how you will design your creatives.

Step 2: Know and identify your target audience

Since media buying has to do with buying ad placements that target your ideal audience, you need to know and understand who your potential app users are.

To know your target audience, you need to understand what problems your app solves. Are your target audience gamers, entrepreneurs, small businesses, women, dads, etc? Are they Android or IOS users? Are they from a specific country or city? Do you want to serve ads to them through in-app placements or mobile web placements or both?

You don’t need to be specific about the details of your target audience as long as you know their location and the device that they use.

If anyone in the world can install your app, you can run a global campaign to see where most of your installs are coming from, and optimize your installs based on the initial results of your campaign later.

Step 3: Design your mobile creatives

The reason it is important to understand advertising angles is that you will base your creatives on the angles that you picked.

Example, with Expedia app, some of their advertising angles include offering a $25 off on the first hotel booking through their app, or giving their app users a chance to win an Android phone when they book flights, hotels, and cruises through the app.

If you can find multiple angles to advertise your Android app, you can experiment with those angles. Then analyze the best-performing angles after the test run and then focus on that angle that gives you the best results.

Step 4: Prepare your target URL

This target URL is where you want your users to go when they click your ad. Many mobile app marketers use the app link on Google Play or Apple Store as their target URL so that the users can download the app right away. Others use a mobile landing page first to capture the contact details of the users and later on market the app to them. There are also those who prepare a mobile landing page that features mobile app banners for the users to choose from.

Step 5: Select a self-serve demand-side platform (DSP)

A demand-side platform (DSP) is what carries out the programmatic media buying process in a mobile advertising campaign. It is important to pick a DSP with huge mobile traffic volumes in the countries that you are interested in, and is also connected with multiple ad exchanges and networks.

You also need to look at the targeting features that the DSP can offer, and the level of support that they provide. Some DSPs don’t provide support unless you meet their minimum ad spend requirement.

Lastly, know their minimum ad spend. Many DSPs require thousands of dollars to get started but there are those that only require $500 to get started like Bluagile.

Step 6: Launch your mobile ad campaigns

The next step is to launch your mobile ad campaigns through your DSP. This is where you will set your overall budget, daily budget, maximum CPM (cost per 1,000 ad views) bid, and your targeting parameters. This is also where you’ll upload your banner creatives.

In launching mobile ad campaigns, it is advisable to not be too specific in your targeting so you will have the chance to analyze a broader set of audience and later on pinpoint your best-performing audience segments based on the initial results of your campaigns.

It is also advisable to run a test for one to two days or until you have enough data to analyze and optimize.

Step 7: Optimize your mobile ad campaign based on the initial results

Optimize your campaign based on the results of your test campaigns. Always optimize based on your campaign objectives. If your objective is brand awareness, focus on volume of impressions, the quality of your ad placements, and user engagement such as banner clicks.

If your objective is conversion, optimize your campaigns based on actual conversion results as well as click-through rates (CTRs).

Optimize your campaigns at least once a week until you get the results that you want. Remember that media buying is only one step in the mobile advertising equation.

The success of your mobile advertising initiatives depends on your app, how compelling your mobile creatives are, and how optimized your landing pages are. Continue testing until you get everything right. Persistence is key in mobile advertising success!