Alternatives to Social Media Marketing: Integrating Programmatic Advertising in Your Mix

Illustration of an ad on social media

You may feel you have covered your bases if your ad campaigns include placements on every social media platform available.

However, you might still be missing a significant portion of your target audience if your focus is solely on the tried and true social platforms.

Your strategy needs to go beyond social media to truly be effective.

There’s a vast landscape out there for you and your clients to explore and succeed in. And the best part? You don’t have to give up any of your current platforms to do so.

Digital strategies must work in harmony and complement one another, not against each other. Expanding your horizons beyond those walled gardens is your best strategy.

So, consider programmatic advertising and social audience reach together. 

There’s a unique reach and a considerable population size in both environments. Broadly speaking, we can say that while not everyone uses social media, almost everyone uses the internet at large. Taking that into consideration, programmatic naturally has a more significant reach.

Being digitally present by creating multiple touchpoint opportunities ensures you capture your audience on relevant platforms, specifically when they’re in a more receptive state of mind. It also means being present in digital channels your audience is using—all of them.

There Are Alternatives to Facebook Ads

Advertisers often run campaigns on social channels and don’t consider how programmatic can supplement their strategy. 

Both programmatic and social advertising allow advertisers to automate the ad-buying process based on parameters set by the advertiser. According to eMarketer, programmatic advertising will make up 91.3% of US digital display advertising in 2024, totalling $157.35 billion USD in ad spend. Incorporating programmatic solutions will change where your ads are bought and served. 

Social advertising exists in a walled garden, the social media site you’re leveraging. Let’s use Facebook, for example. When you run a standard Facebook campaign, your ad will look like a regular post in the Facebook feed and be isolated in the Facebook world (for argument’s sake). That world might look really big, but once you remove those blinders, you’ll realize how small it actually is.

Alternatively, programmatic ads can appear on different websites, whether purchased through a private deal or open auction buy. Understanding these differences enables you, the advertiser, to be better equipped when exploring additional digital advertising options.

Here’s a great example. PPC agency, Clean Digital, worked with StackAdapt to launch a full-funnel marketing strategy to drive awareness, site traffic, and conversions (both online and in-person). Working with StackAdapt on their display campaign, they drove an incredible online return on ad spend (ROAS) of 324% and over 50,000 store visits for their client, Dobbies Garden Centres. Download the full study.

Let’s dive into some of the benefits of combining programmatic with social and being cognizant of creative messaging as we move down the funnel.

Match the Message to Each Social Media Platform

Frequency capping is a common concern for advertisers. How do you cap your ad messaging between the open exchange, publisher deals, walled gardens, and so on? 

Well, there are a lot of steps and nuances to fully controlling frequency but in the interim, there are quick ways to mitigate this.

If you promote one or two versions of an ad and extend that same messaging in display, native, social, and search placements, your target audience could see the same ad every single time!

Do you want to be that brand?

Pushing the same message without considering the funnel stage or the targeting risks consumer burnout and negative brand recall. 

The solution is to adjust the messaging based on the channel.

While it’s important to maintain consistent messaging while using different words, you want to build a cohesive story that aligns with the specs and environment of each ad. The text in your Instagram story ad may not fit your leaderboard ad well, and an Instagram story is not the same size as a LinkedIn ad. Making the necessary adjustments based on the platform will make all the difference in curating cohesive brand messaging.

After all, nobody likes a crowded 320×50 mobile ad they have to squint to read.

Full-Funnel Strategy: Social Media Advertising + Programmatic

Each platform and channel should play a role in your marketing and sales funnel in different ways. It’s like you are piecing together the chapters of a book to tell a beautiful brand story.

After identifying your business objective and the KPIs relevant to your tactics, you’re likely to approach your campaigns with a traditional funnel: the top is the awareness portion, the middle focuses on consideration, and the bottom is the final action or conversion point.

Top of the Funnel

At the top of the funnel, programmatic helps to establish reach. 

Leveraging standard demographic, intent and interest targeting, as well as 1st- and 3rd-party data, is a good foundation at this stage. Since programmatic advertising can reach users on many sites, it can be used to find new customers, encourage site visits and fuel your pool of users to feed into the next stage.

Content in the upper funnel is focused on brand awareness and does not abruptly call users to complete an action that would be like proposing to someone on the first date—let’s leave that type of stuff to reality TV.

Presenting content to those interested in your industry without asking them to do anything is an excellent start to the customer relationship.

Clear brand messaging and simple statements can help advertisers start a conversation that you can continue as you move toward your lower-funnel initiatives. There is nothing worse than getting to the bottom without anything left to say! So, have those brand-focused display or video ads drive to content, such as your brand’s website, FAQ, and blog posts, to associate your brand with helpful themes. 

Learn how Foodbag, a cooking box delivery service, increased awareness through programmatic advertising. Read the case study.

Middle of the Funnel

Now that the user has been introduced to your brand, it’s time to take’em to school with educational content. We’ve made it to the middle of the funnel.

Here you have the opportunity to showcase more detailed content. Develop content that answers important questions or solves specific problems for your demographic. 

The goal is to engage users in this stage, and running programmatic campaigns with native or video ads works well. Ads that call users to explore useful tools like webinars, eBooks, case studies, and guides are a great segue from the content in the upper funnel—this stage is about categorizing a more qualified audience who have come down the funnel. 

Where does social come in?

Tying in social at this stage is a great way to combine the strategies. Social ads can provide additional information and supplement the native and video ads users have already seen.

Begin with the broad reach of programmatic to build interest, and then apply a conversational approach that users are familiar with on their social channels. 

For instance, with StackAdapt you can add a retargeting audience pixel to build an audience of users who have already seen your ad. You can also create a social retargeting pool within social walled gardens by placing a social pixel in the StackAdapt impression tracker. That way, you can scale your user reach whenever impressions are won on StackAdapt—guiding them further down the funnel.

Bottom of the Funnel

Now is the time to answer any questions or concerns from hand-raisers in your demo or present yourself again to those who have explored your website’s contact forms or abandoned a cart at check-out. 

Retargeting and dynamically retargeting those interested in your brand is your last attempt to move the needle on the conversion. Ensure your StackAdapt pixel and your social media pixels are placed properly, allowing for excellent tracking and retargeting practices. 

Finding Alternatives to Social Media Marketing 

The key to developing an omnichannel approach to your campaigns is carefully identifying which channel and messaging fits in what stage of the funnel and which type of targeting to leverage.

Integrating programmatic advertising into your full-funnel campaigns is a no-brainer. Partner with a programmatic advertising platform that will help you reach your KPIs.

With StackAdapt, you can plan, execute, and analyze your campaigns in an easy-to-use platform in multiple channels.

Want to run exceptional programmatic campaigns? Request a demo to learn more about StackAdapt.

Alesia Commisso
Alesia Commisso

Director of Digital Marketing


Alesia is focused on bringing the StackAdapt brand to life through paid and organic strategies, using targeted ad placements and real-time optimizations to maximize growth.