Or Programmatic Advertising in the Real Estate Sector: Get on the Rocketship!

If you’ve never heard of programmatic advertising, you’re missing something big. Don’t worry, we are going to fill you in! By the end of this article, you’ll understand why programmatic advertising is so important and needs to be incorporated into your real estate marketing plan.


In a fast-changing environment, the digital marketing industry develops more and more effective technologies and methods. There’s no doubt that programmatic advertising is one of the most successful. It is one of the fastest-growing areas of ad tech, connecting advertisers with publishers, and relevant content with appropriate audiences. Display advertising is one of the “oldest” types of online advertising, and probably the most commonly used one. It has reached a whole new level when combining with programmatic advertising as it allows you to improve your display efficiency by buying easier and faster display ad space.

No wonder programmatic advertising is so popular! According to AdRoll, programmatic advertising was number two on the list of the marketers’ most successful marketing channels for attracting new customers, second only to organic social media.

Why does real estate industry need programmatic advertising? What kind of ads should you choose?

What is programmatic advertising?

Let me tell you a story.

The real estate development company X develops a housing project in the south of Brussels. Ideally situated near green spaces, just outside the city. They estimate that this project would mostly interest two types of people. First, families living in the city centre, but looking for more space. Second, investors, as the project’s value is projected to increase in value over the years. The marketer decides to use programmatic advertising for targeting them more efficiently.

Mike, 40yo, working C-level in finance in Brussels, sits in his comfy sofa while reading a finance column about real estate investment on his colleague’s blog. As his favourite local football team played last night, he checks the sports news on Sporza. Happy to read how well his club performed, he decides to buy some sports clothes on Zalando. Before turning off his iPhone, he checks the news on the New York Times website.

At the same time, Alexandra, 35yo living with her family – husband and 2 small kids- in the city centre is now considering moving out of Brussels. Once charmed by the city centre atmosphere, she now realises that she needs more space for her children. She started to check a few real estate agencies’ websites, but she hasn’t found anything she likes yet. Dreaming about her next place, she ends up buying interior decorations on Maisonsdumonde.com. Then she reads a couple of blogs she likes and local news website.

On every website, they went that day, and during a certain period of time, they both have been exposed to the ad of the real estate project. Sometimes on top of the page, sometimes on the right column on a blog, sometimes in the middle of an article. They may not have noticed it at first, but then they recognised it on a Facebook ad and then clicked on it.

In this case, programmatic advertising played a role in the project awareness campaign, and after a certain time of exposure both Mike and Alexandra’s interests were triggered. A second campaign on social media like Facebook finally convinced them to click.

De Tijd

So how is it possible that an ad is following you cross-websites during your web journey?

Programmatic advertising allows marketers to buy an audience rather than an ad space so that your ads can follow your audience everywhere on the internet. It also allows you to define your audience very precisely. Marketers can easily identify lookalike audiences and assure the most effective exposure for your real estate project.

Behind the scenes, part1: How does it work?

Programmatic advertising is an automated buying and selling of online advertising space. Most of the time you are using a specialised agency like Gamned or Smartyads to manage your campaigns. They will act as traders for you. What I mean is that they won’t be bidding on one specific website, but on a whole network in which they can track and follow your target audience. They will make sure that your banners are seen a certain number of times and that they appear most of the time in the right space on a page and other parameters to drive at maximum awareness.

In this way, the ad is following its audience everywhere instead of common visitors on a few specific websites. Programmatic is reaching a peak of relevance in a crowded advertisement space where people are getting tired of seeing no relevant ads.

And the efficiency of programmatic advertising is increasing more and more because working less with human negotiations than with machine learning and AI-optimisation.

Behind the scenes, part 2: Bidding and Algorithms

We’ll go a bit deeper now, but… stay with me. Programmatic advertising is using RTB, real-time-bidding. It is rapid, flexible buying and selling of online ad impressions through real-time auctions. The auctions employ algorithms that comb through automated ad exchanges to identify the best impressions for your audience to bid on.

Example: Advertisers would place ads on websites they believed matched their target audience – so a company selling cars maybe single out blogs about cars, and manually buy placements on these sites. With programmatic you catch someone visiting a certain website and then follow the person in their online journey.

How can a Real Estate Developer use programmatic advertising to target homebuyers?

Nowadays, more real estate marketers use programmatic advertising to promote their properties. The beauty of programmatic advertising is that it is measurable, trackable and flexible. Remember you bought an audience. You are therefore targeting your IDEAL PERFECT BUYER for your real estate project.

Use of Banners

For programmatic advertisement, it’s like in-display advertisement, your ad is in the middle of some article or on a webpage which is already full of content. Your ad needs to stand out. For this reason, most of the ads are animated – which is not an actual video, but rather a banner because the format is extremely light.

A banner can show a small animation – light video or animated pictures – for example, an animation of a render of your project. The messages (the text) can appear in a few steps to trigger the attention. You can design your banners yourself but your communication partner or agency will know how to optimise the format because they know the best practices and most relevant market practices.

We know Gwenaëlle Festraets from Blonde Talks Digital is really passionate about this type of advertising because of the desired results it brings for real estate project campaigns. We are lucky she agreed to share a bit more about her strategy and pass on some tips that we hope you will find helpful as well.

“We use a SEE-THINK-DO three-steps-methodology with three different messages for three months of programmatic campaign. Typically we begin with an awareness message announcing the new real estate project. We insist on the fact it’s “new”, a SEE-message. A few weeks after, we launch a THINK message, which is the acquisition phase, more tactical, about the pricing, giving more description, etc. And we finish by a DO-moment inviting people to come to an open-doors moment. At this third phase, we re-target specifically all the people that have visited the real estate project website.”

Below Gwenaëlle Festraets shares an example of her client BPI‘s project: the Zen factory in Beersel near Brussels.

Gwenaëlle Festraets, the founder of Blonde Talks Digital, will be available in the speed dating sessions at the ProptTech summit EVOLVE19 hosted by Prompto and Barco on December the 4th 2019 in Belgium. Register here.

Use Personalised Ads

In programmatic advertising, since your targeting is very precise, you can personalise your ads according to a very specific audience. First and ideally, your banner and the render you use would be personalised for every target you have. Imagine an interior with kids will attract more a family than an investor. Maybe interiors will have a better impact on a family while investors will be more triggered by the exteriors and locations.

Secondly, choose your wording accordingly too. You should use your audience’s vocabulary, speak in their language. A young family will respond to much more personal words than an investor for example. Don’t hesitate to use local references as it may capture people’s attention faster. I wish there was a magical formula, but every marketer will tell you that the best thing to do is to test different banners to see which one is the best for a certain type of audience. Programmatic advertising can help you do that thanks to the data they collect. The results may vary from one audience to the next.

Give It a Story

Speaking of quality ads and successful programmatic advertising campaigns, you should keep in mind that more importantly than a perfect render, is telling a compelling story. A beautiful picture will certainly grab people’s attention, but a moving story will leave a lasting impression.

It is very relevant to quote Jean-François Zirger from Gamned, international programmatic advertising agency:

You can make impactful scenarios with programmatic advertising. We play with a combination of different formats: wallpaper, specific mobile ads, native ads and different messages. But more importantly, we tell a story. Clients have a tendency to focus on lead generation directly without having “worked out” their prospective buyers on the branding, the image and the vision of the project. But we have seen that telling a story through this diversity of formats makes their lead generation campaigns more successful. Programmatic advertising allows to achieve that very specific momentum.

Jean-François Zirger, managing director Benelux of Gamned, will be a speaker and available during the speed dating sessions at the ProptTech summit EVOLVE19 hosted by Prompto and Barco on December the 4th 2019 in Belgium. Register here.

Adapt/Modify the Campaigns Real-Time

A real estate marketer can use real-time data to modify their ads in terms of the period of time in which their ads run, and the devices and/or platforms that they appear on. One of the biggest benefits of programmatic advertising is its ability to deliver real-time data from multiple parties involved in the home search process, allowing advertisers to modify their campaigns based on what the data tell them. Here are two ways of doing this.


Your creative marketing team can send a series of different content with different wording and different visuals in every format you would like to use such as a large banner or small column picture. The algorithm supported with enough data will set the best combination for every specific audience. This technique increases the efficiency of your campaign, and allow you to vary your ads so your target audience doesn’t get bored of seeing the same one over and over again which could be counterproductive.


You send a template you want to use for every ad you run. The programmatic advertising company will adapt your template according to your instructions and their data. Again, it is incredibly effective as your audience won’t have the same visuals flashing on their screen every time they go online. Plus, it allows you to be much more flexible with your message since you can adapt it whenever you want.


Of course, programmatic advertising is extremely effective for retargeting your prospects. As soon as they visit your project’s website or click on your ad, they trigger automated retargeting advertising which means they will see a related ad again very soon on another website. Retargeting programmatic campaigns are the second step after the first project awareness campaign.

Still not convinced about real estate programmatic ads?

In short, here is what makes programmatic ads the “superfood” of real estate marketing:

1) Improve Your ROI

Programmatic ads are considerably cheaper than other display advertisements. Why? Because publishers are struggling to sell ads directly, they’re holding a ton of ad space that nobody’s buying and as a result, the prices are much lower.

2) Automation

Fast and effortless, this technology is automatically buying and selling ads spaces that save marketing agencies a lot of time. Instead of spending countless hours negotiating with publishers and filling out forms to buy ad space manually, those hours can be spent proactively over analysing data, optimisation and creating effective campaigns.

3) Better Analytics

Programmatic advertising has better tracking capabilities. You don’t only have an overview of the total number of conversions, but also the category and value of each individual conversion you’ve gained from those who’ve viewed or clicked on your ads.

4) Better Targeting

The location targeting can be set extremely precisely, using the postal codes as one selective parameter. The audiences targeted can be very specific too: first-time apartment owners, investors, young couples, families with X children, etc. Certain audiences are difficult or/and expensive to target with more traditional display advertisement but easier with programmatic.

Are you now asking yourself, ‘How I will personalise my campaigns?’, read our article on real estate landing pages here.

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