Our Blog

Information, analyses and news for agribusiness go-to-market

    The False Dilemma of Programmatic vs. Direct-Buy Advertising

    Posted by FMiD Team on Sep 27, 2019


    The False Dilemma of Programmatic vs. Direct Buy Advertising

    When you visit CNN, ESPN or other consumer-centric websites, you probably notice the array of ads they display.

    Those ads aren’t placed through direct-buy, but transacted programmatically.

    Programmatic advertising is the dominant form of digital ad buying in the general consumer market. In fact, by 2021, nearly 88 percent of all digital ad buys will be transacted programmatically.

    U.S. Programmatic Digital Display Ad Spending, 2016-2021

    By 2020, nearly 88 percent of all advertising will be transacted programmatically.

    In its most basic terms, programmatic advertising is the automated buying and selling of digital ad space. Instead of a one-to-one negotiation, ads are placed into a digital auction where the most relevant content is distributed to the people most likely to be interested in viewing it. This content is then distributed over hundreds of sites. Wherever the audience goes, the ad is delivered to them.

    This opens up a world of possibilities for marketers. Instead of focusing on the placement of the ad, marketers focus on their demographic targeting to ensure they’re connecting with the right audience. They pay for the people, not the placement of the ad.

    In agriculture, marketers tend to disproportionately favor direct-buy ads over programmatic. Perhaps you’re one of those marketers, and programmatic is something you’re only vaguely familiar with. What should you do?

    Here’s what you shouldn’t do: ditch traditional direct-buy and go all-in on programmatic. Instead, do what any skilled marketer does. Test the two against each other, and see what benefits you get from each. It doesn’t have to be a false dilemma.


    Target farmers based on context. Learn about our data-powered marketing  solutions.


    Maintain your relationships with ag publishers.

    The relationship between ag media outlets and farmers has been alive and well for years. Farmers trust the media and the media works to continue being the main source of helpful and relevant content.

    As long as this relationship remains strong, farmers will continue to trust ag media to deliver content that is relevant to them and their businesses.

    You should maintain your existing relationships with ag media outlets to take advantage of this level of authority and trust. But be aware: there are some limitations to direct-buy ads on these sites.

    • Visibility. Direct-buy gives you a dedicated spot on an ag media site, but that’s all you get: a single spot. Programmatic distributes your ad across hundreds of sites, increasing your visibility among farmers.
    • True audience. There’s some measure of audience targeting that exists in direct-buy, but that’s exclusively in the selection of the publication and the section your ad will appear in. Programmatic goes several steps further, allowing you to target your audience directly through demographic targeting.
    • Segmentation. When you direct-buy, everyone who sees that placement will see the same ad. Programmatic, on the other hand, lets you deliver different ads to different segments, so you can customize by crop type, age, gender, acreage, geographic location and more.
    • Competition. If everyone in ag is going after the same media sites, there’s a high likelihood your ad will display right next to a competitor's. Programmatic lets you out-maneuver your competition by displaying your ads on sites where they’re less likely to advertise, but farmers are definitely going to visit.
    • Cost. Most ag publishers require that you pay for the ad placement as an upfront cost, regardless of the audience and return on investment. Programmatic advertising, on the other hand, lets you bid on a cost-per-click or other variable, letting you set the value of the ad.

    Although you should leverage the authority and trust that ag publishers have, you shouldn’t limit yourself either. It’s not an either-or decision, but investing in all the tactics that are going to give you the best visibility among your target farmers.

    Leverage new technologies to improve your digital marketing ROI.

    Farmers trust ag media sites, sure. But farmers are also just regular people. They check their sports stats on ESPN, catch up on the news on CNN or other news networks, they look up a favorite recipe on Recipes.com. They’re engaged on these consumer sites just like anyone else.

    Programmatic advertising lets you deliver your ads to your true audience on these sites, as well as hundreds more. Wherever farmers go, you can follow.

    How does this work? Each programmatic advertiser is going to handle things a little differently, but here’s how we do it through our partnership with Big Reach Network.

    Farm Market iD takes our data and connects it with cookies and mobile device IDs to provide hyper-targeting at Internet scale. We can determine where 2,544,811 farmers go online (as of 2018), and depending on who you want to target, we can serve your ad to them across hundreds of websites.

    Most programmatic advertisers allow you to target by consumer demographics like age, race, gender, hobbies, lifestyle interests, auto ownership, etc. Where our programmatic approach takes the next step is the introduction of agriculture demographics like crop, acreage, Gross Farm Income, etc. We can also target CCAs, PCAs, Ag Retailers/Dealers.

    This level of granularity simply isn’t possible with direct-buy.

    Ultimately, the goal of any marketing campaign is to connect with your audience and entice them to make a purchase. The more accurately you can target the farmers that will most benefit from your products, the more effective your campaigns will be:

    • Target your true audience. Programmatic lets you target demographic information, type of crops grown, behaviors, etc. Not only can you target your audience by demographic, you can utilize programmatic advertising to reach everyone from those who have bought particular farming equipment in the past 30-days, or who have accessed a particular website on a mobile device versus a desktop computer. This way, you’ll be able to see why, when, and how your audience is accessing certain types of information.
    • Go where the farmers are. Previously, it was enough to buy real estate on a website, put up your ad, and hope enough of your target audience saw it. But why pay for impressions of people who may not have any interest in you product? Marketing to farmers specifically with programmatic advertising can cause you to show up on the websites your audience is browsing at a time when they’re most inclined to see it.
    • Test and adjust your campaigns in response to real-time data. Programmatic advertising puts the power of insights into your hands. It’s no longer necessary to stick with a campaign that isn’t working. Whether you want to test out the best call-to-action to reach a target demographic or change your messaging based on the seasons, embrace programmatic advertising’s potential to optimize your advertising strategy and test new opportunities.

    Marketing to farmers can often feel like a shot in the dark, and without the right agri-marketing data, narrowing down your ideal audience can feel even more frustrating. Programmatic advertising can help you narrow down your target audience by what, how much, and where they grow; their demographic information; even the time of day that they’re most likely to see your digital advertisements so that you can maximize the reach of your marketing dollars.

    When you know your ad is landing on the eyes of corn growers versus cattle ranchers, you can target your messaging to directly speak to the audience whom you want to reach with greater chance of conversion.

    As the years go by, technology continues to advance, change, and aid in the completion of everyday tasks. Big Data keeps getting bigger and its applications more usable. AdTech is coming to agriculture.

    In fact, it’s already here.

    Those that embrace and use it effectively will strengthen relationships with their customers and will create bridges to new customer relationships.

    New call-to-action