Your practical guide to programmatic advertising for law firms

You might be unfamiliar with the term “programmatic advertising,” but that doesn’t mean that these targeted ads are new to you. Most people have become accustomed to seeing programmatic ads on their search browsers, streaming platforms, and social media accounts. You might not know the term, but you know these paid ads when you see them.

Our legal marketing experts have been long-term proponents of programmatic advertising, and we’ve seen it help law firms boost their brand awareness and attract their ideal clients. In this article, we explore its potential.

What is programmatic advertising?

You experience programmatic advertising every day. Suppose you’re on your favorite news site. There are probably ads on the page, some of which seem to target your exact interests or highlight businesses whose websites you recently visited. These are programmatic display ads.

Or, say you’re streaming a popular show or listening to a digital radio station. Again, the ads seem remarkably targeted to you. If they’re hitting the mark, a programmatic advertising expert did their job well.

With programmatic advertising, you buy online ad space, and sophisticated software uses data and algorithms to determine when and where to place your ads. You can define and target specific demographics, user behaviors, dates, and times to reach the ideal audience for the purchaser’s content. People who experience the ad are considered impressions.

Simply put, it automates the ad buying process. It takes a lot of the guesswork out of your ad buying strategy, letting you target precise demographics.

Why programmatic advertising should be part of your law firm’s marketing plan

Increasingly, people spend much of their time online. Whether it’s streaming videos, researching interesting topics, following their friends on social media, or listening to customized digital radio stations.

Digital media consumption is steadily growing, and the pandemic accelerated this trend. According to an article published by the Wall Street Journal, the average adult in the U.S. now spends more than 16 hours a day on digital media, up from nearly 12.5 hours a day pre-pandemic.

programmatic advertising spending

Getting your brand be online in front of this audience is now essential and doing this efficiently is what programmatic advertising does.

RELATED: Optimizing paid advertising on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter

Programmatic advertising automates the ad buying process. It takes a lot of the guesswork out of your ad buying strategy, letting you target precise demographics.

What are the benefits of programmatic advertising?

More control (but also more responsibility)

Programmatic advertising increases the level of control you have over where, when, and why your creative content is being placed. However, this takes discipline. Programmatic advertising aggregates data continuously and the auctions occur in real time, so your success or failure is based heavily on your involvement.  

When legal advertisers leverage quality data to target their ideal consumers, programmatic advertising can be a cost-effective way to increase brand awareness and generate leads who are closer to the end of the buyer’s journey.

Sophisticated audience segmentation

Another advantage of programmatic advertising is its breadth and targeting options. You can get your message in front of millions of interested users based on their wants, needs, and behaviors. On average, 3.5 billion people are online at any given time, and programmatic advertising lets you to reach as few or as many as you’d like without having to make individual placement decisions.

Billboards can’t offer that. AdWords can’t offer that. Even television can’t offer that. And these traditional forms of advertising typically cost much more than programmatic advertising.

As always, the quality of your content is paramount. We suggest developing content that relates back to your services when spending marketing budget on programmatic advertising. Collateral resources should have a high perceived value. Whitepapers, infographics, ebooks, and even video are effective assets for promotion.

More time to focus on your practice

When structured properly, programmatic advertising frees up you and your team to focus on other tasks. While you should continually monitor your ad performance and user data, this information is available in a simple, customizable dashboard that can be analyzed and updated within minutes. (You can also work with a respected agency like LaFleur who will monitor and adjust your strategies for you.)

If you decide to DIY your programmatic ads, make sure your staff includes someone who is skilled with data and trained on the platform. You should also ask them to provide daily status reports and make regular optimizations. This will allow your marketing staff to focus on developing truly outstanding content that will attract users when placed in a programmatic advertising campaign. 

4 types of programmatic advertising that law firms can’t ignore

With programmatic advertising, you can run campaigns targeting different demographics, locations, and audience segments. Additionally, you can work with different ad types that reach your audience on a variety of platforms and in many formats.

Let’s explore some of our favorite programmatic ad categories.

1. Display advertising

Display advertising is the most common advertising type that you’ve likely encountered in the wild. They are graphic advertisements that appear online on websites, mobile apps, and social media. They usually include text, images, video, and sometimes audio. Display ads offer lower CPM rates and have wider reach. Display ads can come in many shapes and forms: banner ads, interstitial ads, text ads, rich media ads, and other formats.

2. Online radio advertising

In addition to graphic and text-based ads, programmatic has audio options. These ads are then streamed on popular online platforms like Spotify, iHeartRadio, and Triton. And unlike terrestrial radio, programmatic ads can target specific audiences based on where they live, their interests, and other demographics.

Imagine that you are a fitness company and would like to reach audiences while they are at the gym. You decide to target people who frequently listen to fitness podcasts and specific music genres. Then, you run your audio ad during specific times of the day—early morning and in the evening, when people are most likely to work out—on audio streaming platforms.

3. Video advertising

Many lawyers who want to try out television advertising find the medium too expensive and cumbersome to deal with. However, video and connected TV advertising has evolved over the last few years. YouTube and the Google Display Network (GDN) are no longer your only video partners—with programmatic video ads, you can place ads on OTT platforms like Hulu.

Over the last couple of years and especially because of the pandemic, the OTT platform’s viewership has skyrocketed, and it will only see an upward trend in the future.

With video ads, you can create a lasting impression of your brand and generate brand recall. Programmatic advertising is here to stay and the earlier you adopt and adapt to this advertising method, the more you reap out of your advertising dollars.

RELATED: What is connected TV and how is it changing traditional advertising?

4. Native advertising

Native advertising can feel a little sneaky. It looks like existing content on a webpage, but is designated as “sponsored content” or “paid advertising.” Frequently, native advertising looks like a news article or blog—and if you don’t notice that subtle disclaimer, you might think it was written by a journalist.

Many advertisers prefer native ads instead of display ads for several reasons.

  • 71% of the advertisers say native ads are effective at building brand awareness
  • 52% of them feel it is effective at generating sales
  • 66% of them think it effectively influences consumers’ perceptions of the brand

However, law firms must be cautious when they use native advertising.

All your ads, including native ads, must follow your state’s Rules of Professional Conduct. If your ads are misleading or violate disclosure rules, you might run into issues with the bar association’s disciplinary committee.

If you decide to run native ad campaigns, make sure you’re working with a skilled agency who understands both your ethical obligations and the power of native, editorial-style advertising.

Law firms must be cautious when they use native advertising.

RELATED: What is native advertising and how does it work?

Programmatic advertising vs. display network advertising

If you have come this far, you might be wondering how programmatic advertising is different from display network advertising. Display network advertising is the use of graphic advertisements run over the display ad network owned by one platform. For example, you can run display ads on Google Display Network (GDN) or on Microsoft ads.

Programmatic advertising on the other hand is an AI-driven technology that shows your display ads on multiple networks.

LaFleur: Programmatic advertising for law firms that gets results

We believe in a dedicated and holistic paid digital advertising strategy. Our paid advertising experts have years of experience managing diverse campaigns for law firms of all shapes, sizes, and practices. If you’d like to discuss new paid digital advertising initiatives or how to optimize existing campaigns, please contact us by calling (888) 222-1512 or completing this brief form.


The 2018 Native, Branded Content & Integrated Marketing Report. Advertiser Perceptions. Retrieved from

Wolf, M. (2020, August 7). How Covid-19 Has Transformed the Amount of Time We Spend Online. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Chip Lafleur

Chip is an entrepreneur, organizational leader, and marketing expert who combines experience in web development, marketing tactics, strategy, and team leadership with a strong ability to harness talent and hone complex concepts into concrete deliverables.