DEARBORN: Ford, the automaker, has extended the scope of its programmatic ad buying beyond digital display formats to encompass online video, in an indication of the rising importance of this approach.

Erica Bigley, Ford's digital media manager, told AdExchanger it only recently began purchasing video ads via the programmatic route, but spent far longer collecting the necessary background information.

"We have so much robust data that we're sitting on. It's taken the past two years of constantly evolving how we're looking at that and how we're using it," she said.

The company has learned, Bigley continued, the importance of "putting it [video] in the correct data set's hands, and making sure that it's contextually relevant.

"Programmatic has allowed us to clearly define our swimming lanes," she explained. "Who's going to buy what, to ensure that we are not reaching one consumer 75 times and then missing out on the key consumer we should have been speaking to."

Bigley then elaborated on Ford's use of data: "In most cases we'll buy multiple data sets and run them through programmatic buying, so we can tell which one performs better than the other one."

The objective of this approach was not necessarily to establish the best data set, but to uncover new insights. For example, "we may have thought our target was women 18 to 34, but actually it looks like men are responding to us more," said Bigley. 

From there, it was then possible to develop a detailed approach. "Say Message A didn't work against that data set but Message B worked better, so obviously this consumer is far more interested in 'fuel-efficiency messaging' over 'quality messaging,'" Bigley said.

"That makes a tremendous difference when you can granularly target your message that way," she continued.

For the future, Bigley suggested that major issues included "viewability" and cross-platform metrics, adding: "Eventually, we want to be able to directly compare how our broadcast is performing compared to how our online video is performing.

"That's going to help when we start to segment out our video compared to what we do from a brand perspective, compared to what we do from a retail perspective."

Data sourced from AdExchanger; additional content by Warc staff