Free Up Your Member Communication Real Estate with Programmatic Advertising

By Brandon Williams • May 12, 2020

Programmatic advertising allows associations to start moving their conversations away from their real estate and towards their audience.

Associations have led their industries by providing invaluable services and benefits for their members’ professional development needs. The primary focus has always been their members (including associate or sponsor members) and how to provide the best information and value. Traditionally associations have accomplished this by creating locations for members to meet, interact, and find compelling information and services. This real estate has consisted of magazines, newsletters, websites, in-person events, and more recently, online spaces such as social media pages and online community boards. These resources are also where advertisers, sponsors, and the associations themselves have been able to communicate with members. Member communication-based real estate provides both the association and vendors a vital way to connect with industry professionals but that is no longer the only way to think about, and communicate with your audience.

What is programmatic advertising, again?

Programmatic advertising puts an association’s audience in their hands so there is a more continuous conversation between the association and its members. Programmatic advertising is a lightweight channel serving display banners throughout the web to website visitors, keeping conversations active and top of mind.  

In addition, associations are able to offer that same experience to  vendors, which give sponsors, associate members or supporting businesses access without having to potentially clutter their communications with too many competing voices. This is simply the act of an association taking advantage of real-time conversations between itself and its members. Every time a member comes to a website, views a webinar, or fills out a form they are actively engaging in a conversation with the association. Programmatic advertising allows for all of these interactions to be tracked by placing a tracking pixel on the association’s website. Once the pixel is in place and the association is able to pay closer attention to how their members are interacting with them, they are able to more quickly meet their members where they are with relevant information. 

Every association and their membership are different. However, there are two general types of associations that can really benefit from the additional communication and revenue opportunities programmatic advertising offers: associations with lots of communication already taking up their real estate, and associations that shy away from letting advertisers into their traditional communications mix.

Programmatic ads free up busy association communications portfolios

The first type is the association that has a lot going on: several events throughout the year, tons of communications, advocacy efforts, and more. This association likely has many sponsors and high level advertisers. Programmatic advertising can free up some of the traditional member communication real estate the association’s marketing team would typically use to promote all this activity. It can provide an alternative to emails, website-based announcements, or direct mail communication. These kinds of programmatic campaigns can be very targeted and timely while increasing relevance and engagement. 

On the non-dues revenue front, this association would be able to start offering previously unavailable opportunities and audiences to advertisers by offering new digital marketing campaign opportunities without worrying about inventory, or potentially cluttering their communications with too many competing voices.

Programmatic ads earn revenue for associations, as opposed to ads in their communications

Similarly, the second type of association that can benefit from the non-dues revenue programmatic advertising offers opposes advertisers occupying their member communications real estate. This type of association makes opportunities to reach members with information about products and services, employment opportunities or general industry expertise rare, and likely only available around annual conferences. There is nothing inherently wrong with ad-free communications ― it provides a quieter, more focused member experience ― but there is a need and value for vendors to reach industry members. Programmatic advertising is an alternative way for this type of association to offer advertising space for businesses without compromising their ad-free member communication pieces. It opens up revenue opportunities throughout the year and encourages vendor retention.

Programmatic advertising benefits internal communications, too 

American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry logo

A real life example of an association using programmatic advertising to open up new communication and revenue channels is the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD).  This organization had historically been opposed to giving real estate on their association website for advertisers. While this standard allowed AAPD to avoid potentially cluttering their communications with too many competing voices, they were missing out on revenue, and their members and vendors were missing out on valuable information and opportunities to connect and grow their respective companies. Through programmatic advertising, we were able to roll out three highly targeted opportunities that gave a select group of advertisers access to the association’s members throughout the year and offered a few companies the chance to enhance their show presence.

Ad about membership in the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry

Ad about membership in the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry

AAPD was also able to use programmatic advertising internally to promote membership in conjunction with several conferences in their space and run attendee acquisition campaigns for their own annual conference. None of these campaigns encroached on the association’s real estate.

Many associations see communicating effectively with their members, and connecting them with top-of-the-class vendors as a primary responsibility. Programmatic advertising allows associations to do just that without pushing aside their own brand ― without trampling on their own grass, so to speak. Programmatic advertising allows for more targeted, relevant, and engaging opportunities that benefit members and the association overall.

About The Author

Brandon Williams is a programmatic sales manager for Naylor Association Solutions.