How Did Programmatic Advertising Shape Up in 2020?

by | Apr 19, 2021

As we look back on 2020 and all the changes last year brought, there’s one question that ag marketers need to be asking themselves: how did marketing change, and what should we expect going forward?

Although the world is slowly going back to “normal,” some of the changes are here to say. Many of them were already on the horizon; the COVID-19 crisis simply exacerbated them.

A great example is eCommerce. Before the pandemic, we wrote about how eCommerce was on the rise, particularly in ag retail. During the pandemic, however, eCommerce became more popular among farmers as restrictions disrupted typical sales processes.

Another area to look at is digital advertising. Before the pandemic, we talked about how data-driven programmatic advertising was on the rise, and we had the data to back it up.

Now, we’re going to take a look at how things changed in 2020, and what that means for the future.

Digital advertising was already on the rise…but the pandemic sped things up.

It’s no secret that digital advertising was growing in popularity among the ag sector long before the pandemic. Our data from 2019 showed that was a record year for data-driven programmatic campaigns.

This trend continued with an even more dramatic increase in 2020. Last year, our partner Precision Reach deployed a total of 1,635 data-driven programmatic campaigns using our data. This was a 232% increase from 2019.

Given the fact that ag trade shows were cancelled for the majority of the year, it makes sense why agribusinesses would find an alternative marketing channel. After all, if you can’t physically bring the farmers to you, you have to figure out a way to send your message to the farmers.


However, while the pandemic may have exacerbated the trend toward data-driven programmatic, data clearly shows that the industry was already moving in that direction. The disruptions in the market merely gave some agribusinesses the “push” they needed to take the plunge.

Thus, it’s safe to assume that this isn’t a temporary surge, but a lasting trend that will continue into 2021 and beyond.

If you’re not already investing in digital advertising, and more specifically data-targeted programmatic, you’re missing a key opportunity that your competitors are already taking advantage of.

Video and audio rule the day.

Knowing that agribusinesses are deploying more digital ads is one thing. But digital advertising is a wide open ecosystem, with lots of opportunities and different types of media you can invest in.

So which media tactics were the most effective? While the specifics vary from business to business, it’s clear that video and audio channels were the top-performing channels of the year. 

In terms of overall growth and gains, digital audio saw the sharpest increase. This process essentially involves targeting farmers with audio ads on platforms like Pandora, Spotify, SoundCloud, and more.

Last year, Precision Reach matched 1.07 million farmer records to Pandora’s subscriber file.

In terms of view completion rates, here are some of the stats:

The moral of the story: if you haven’t taken the time to invest in digital video and audio advertising, you should. 

But don’t take this to mean that other channels like banner display, native ads, and social media are obsolete. Quite the opposite.

In fact, when you combine these channels with video and audio, we recorded some pretty substantial improvements to the overall campaign. For example, when we combined display banners with a CTV campaign, Precision Reach noticed a 2.5X increase in CTR on those banners.

While digital audio and video are the place to be right now, don’t neglect these other digital advertising channels that could generate a strong ROI.

Which types of farmers are consuming digital ads?

Ultimately, you want to invest in the audience where you have the greatest opportunity for success. This means targeting the right farmers with the right message at the right time.

And here is where data-targeted digital provides you with an unparalleled opportunity. Because we target farmers directly, you can deliver your ads to specific audiences of farmers.

So which farmers are responding to data-driven programmatic ads? Here’s a breakdown by producer type:

Additionally, it’s important to look beyond the types of producers and examine what kinds of content they’re consuming. Here are the sectors that delivered data-driven programmatic ads in 2020, broken down by the number of individual farmer impressions.

The takeaway here is that farmers are actively consuming content across all sectors. If you have a product and a message that will resonate with a farmer, you’re likely to see great success with data-driven programmatic.

Preparing for a post-cookie world.

One final note: one of the reasons we’re proud to partner with Precision Reach is their eye toward the future of digital advertising. A great example comes in relation to the “death of the third-party cookie” that’s expected on many platforms in the coming years.

Working as the exclusive agricultural partner of LiveRamp, Precision Reach was able to successfully run three row crop ad campaigns without using cookie-based delivery via LiveRamp’s ATS platform.

While this new innovation is still very much in the beta stage, it shows that as the digital marketing world shifts, both inside and outside of agriculture, we’re shifting right along with it.

For more information on programmatic advertising contact us at or call/text to 847-778-1886