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What is Programmatic Advertising?

Defined by the Display Trading Council as the use of automation in buying and selling of media, programmatic advertising has evolved from a way for advertisers to sell remnant on-site inventory into one of the most efficient and relevant interactions organizations can have with their target audiences. Not only can brands buy the ad space in near real-time, the ads can be highly personalized, showing items the consumer viewed on-site and additional product recommendations based on his or her behavior.

Simply put, brands or agencies use a DSP (demand side platform) to decide which impressions to buy and how much to pay for them, while publishers use an SSP (supply side platform) to sell the ad space to the highest bidder.

All of this happens in near real-time. Listrak’s solution was created to solve the many issues related to programmatic advertising – disingenuous click-based reporting, lack of transparency and overspending.

On average, shoppers are served 30-40 ad impressions but we found the optimal impression rate is only 14.

Listrak’s solution is unlike other programmatic solutions. We report on ROAS and calculate incremental revenue lift, giving you visibility and control into each ad served across the purchase funnel. You no longer waste dollars on audiences that do not convert.

Benefits of Listrak’s Programmatic Solution

Listrak’s solution allows you to personalize banner ads based on each visitor’s on-site behavior, profile and customer journey stage. More importantly, it tracks results so you can spend your budget more effectively - on campaigns that provide the highest incremental revenue and ROAS.

Advertiser Concerns

  • Bot fraud
  • Lack of transparent reports• Buys on-site with little or no traffic
  • Lack of inventory transparency or“black box” opacity
  • Lack of visibility into data for targeting

Listrak Advantages

  • Placebo testing to prove incremental revenue
  • Full visibility into list of publishers/sites
  • Full transparency of reporting, including revenue and incremental lift
  • Ability to white list or blacklist sites
  • Improved optimization

We Resolve The Ambiguities And Fill In The Gaps

  • Prove incremental lift
  • Ad efficacy
  • Funnel visualization
  • Transparent reporting

10x ROAS Average return on ad spend Listrak clients experience with our programmatic solution.

"Listrak’s digital marketing solutions help you create personalized, seamless experiences across all customer touch points and channels"

Placebo Testing : HOW AND WHY

Not all clicks are created equal. It is important to understand that when a shopper visits your site, she is showing intent to explore a product even if she gets interrupted before converting. When she later sees a display ad that reminds her to complete her purchase, it is highly possible that she would have returned to complete the purchase on her own.

The only truly accurate way to quantify the incremental revenue lift provided by programmatic is to conduct a placebo test. The test shows your branded ad to a portion of your site visitors and an ad that has nothing todo with the brand to a holdback group.

Attributing the value of the sale solely to the programmatic ad isn’t an accurate portrayal of the ad’s performance.

The holdback ad is typically from anon-profit organization and it acts as the placebo effect, allowing marketers to measure the number of site visitors who would have returned to the site and purchased on their own.

The control group proves that some shoppers will return to the site and purchase even without seeing the branded display ad.

Measuring results like this allows you to take a critical and methodical approach when allocating your ad budget to ensure you receive the highest return from every campaign you run. This type of testing is instrumental in optimizing programmatic efforts.


Clients are looking for a way to better maximize their investment in ad spend and target the right groups of customer for display ads. Listrak’s Programmatic solution uses A/B testing throughout the purchase funnel over the course of 90 days to determine which segments perform the strongest in terms of incremental lift.

While most display providers look at top line revenue to calculated their ROAS, Listrak’s programmatic solution uses incremental revenue from these A/B tests so retailers can get a true view on how the investment display ads are truly performing.

30 Day Incremental ROAS: 55x ROAS - Case Study 1

A leading distributor of restoration equipment and supplies usesProgrammatic to target different audience segments with different creative. At the top of the funnel, they show site visitors ads that explain their product and price match guarantees, promote same day shipping and other benefits their organization provides.The ads are not personalized.

Customers who are deeper in the funnel — cart abandoners and purchasers — see personalized ads with recommended products based on their on-site behavior and purchase histories.

This client stopped serving ads to page browse abandoners as that segment of its audience didn’t perform as well as other segments. The ad budget was removed from this segment and put into the higher performing segments to maximize investment.

30 Day Incremental ROAS: 10.5x - Case Study 2

A 1,600-seat theater hosting 300+ live performances each year uses programmatic ads to re-engage site visitors. After analyzing the initial test results, the team determined which segments to terminate and reallocated spending across areas of the funnel performing well — the page browse and cart abandonment segments. This maximized ad spend to the segments that generated the highest incremental revenue and ROAS and resulted in an ROAS of 10.5x, more than doubling the return from the original text group.

It further segments cart abandoners into two groups — guests who saw the ads between 0-3 hours of abandoning the cart and those who saw the ads after 3 hours of abandoning the cart-to test the performance of their ad timing and further optimize ad timing.

Ads feature upcoming events based on a guest’s recent browse history and uses the “viewed this/viewed that” recipe for the page browse segment and the “purchased this/purchased that” for the cart abandon segment

30 Day Incremental ROAS: 74.7x - Case Study 3

A leading sporting goods distributor of team uniforms, shoes and accessories tested programmatic ads across the entire funnel and realized that ads served to the very top of funnel — the site visitors segment — didn’t perform as well as the other segments. It stopped showing ads to that audience and reallocated the budget to the other segments.

The highest performing segment is post purchase. The organization serves ads to customers within 3-30 days of a purchase, recommending products that are related to the original sale. This segment has a 98.2x ROAS.

The targeted ads also work for both page browse and cart abandoners, proving that relevant ads that are personalized with products based on browse behavior re-engage an audience.


Programmatic ads are some of the most efficient and relevant interactions organization scan have with their target audiences. The automated ads are purchased and placed in near real-time and the ads are highly personalized, showing items the consumer viewed on-site and additional product recommendations based on his or her behavior.

More and more organizations are spending money in this channel and it is expected to continue growing, according to e-Marketer. To see the impact programmatic ads can have on your business, contact Listrak for a 90-day trial. We’ll not only help you reach an audience you might not have access to in another channel— we can prove the incremental lift of your programmatic campaigns.