Is there value in programmatic when marketing to farmers?

by Jeff Walter
February 8, 2017

Programmatic media for marketing to farmers

Use customer data for more precise, efficient digital media buys.

Programmatic advertising has been one of the hottest topics in marketing the past few years. While many B2C advertisers utilize programmatic, many in the B2B community, including agriculture, still struggle with what it is or how they can benefit from it. According to e-Marketer, 73 percent of U.S. display advertising spend is directed through programmatic media; however, a typical ag digital mix likely has much less.

So…what is programmatic and how can marketers benefit?

There are various definitions of programmatic. Essentially, it’s an automated buying process that allows advertisers to buy audiences with precision vs. just generally targeted impressions.  The benefits can vary depending on your strategic use of programmatic.

This means buying the audience, not the inventory.
Once upon a time, ag marketers bought digital display ads like print ads. Agencies bought inventory direct from publishers, and the currency was general impressions. Over time, more data collected on users’ digital footprints has led to the rise of programmatic. Data based on consumer behaviors and demographics now influences real-time decision-making. It allows advertisers to buy very specific audiences leveraging first-, second- and third-party data.

Precision and efficiency are the benefits for ag marketers.
Programmatic allows advertisers to find a specific audience to extend plan reach or increase frequency of message. Targeting can be simple (corn growers, southern cattle ranchers) or complex (growers who have viewed or purchased farm equipment online in the past 30 days), and you can apply it to both ag and non-ag environments. By following a specific audience, advertisers can intercept their audience during their daily behaviors such as checking weather, shopping online or updating social media pages.

Programmatic also allows advertisers to reach their audiences more efficiently than direct-to-publisher. Often, it may not be strategically or fiscally sound to execute a direct buy with publishers that farmers frequent such as,, or local newspaper sites. That said, marketers reap the benefit of targeted campaigns at an agreeable price.

Test, learn and apply

Programmatic is not without its challenges, nor is it expected to replace endemic ag buys. Narrow targets can be limiting in programmatic. So rather than a replacement, it makes a good complement to endemic. Programmatic has potential for ag. Begin testing the waters to understand the opportunities and limitations. Test with ag and non-ag programmatic partners. Test different seasons and messaging. Test different targeting and CTAs. And keep the tests simple and easy to measure. Once there are learnings, it’s all about keeping what works and dropping what doesn’t.

Jeff Walter
About the Author – Jeff Walter

President/Chief Integration Officer. Jeff combines 20 years of client service experience with his deep knowledge and passion for agriculture, which stems from growing up on a corn and soybean farm in northern Illinois. He is a quick study of the brand, the customers and competitors, knows the right questions to ask, and with his oversight on planning and analytics, pushes the team to category-defining strategies and results-driven plans.


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Since 1978, the ag-marketing experts at Rhea + Kaiser have been helping brands connect with the farmer customer.

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