December 10, 2021
6 Min Read
What is programmatic advertising? Put simply, it’s the use of automated software to buy digital advertising space in real-time.
Programmatic ad buying uses complex algorithms to bid for and show ads to the right people, at the right time, and for the right price. This approach to digital advertising is in contrast to traditional digital ad buying, which can often be time-consuming, labour-intensive, and expensive.
In this short guide, we explain the ins and outs of programmatic advertising, covering the different types, how it works, and the benefits of automating ad buying.
Looking for a programmatic advertising expert? Hire pre-vetted marketing talent with Traktion. Connect with the world’s best and brightest through our easy-to-use platform.
The traditional method of online ad buying harks back to the days of the Madison Avenue media-buying departments. You’ve still got proposals, quotes, and negotiations, contracts and manual insertion orders, only now it’s for website banners and pop-ups instead of billboards and magazine spreads.
Programmatic advertising, meanwhile, takes all of this manual work and human intervention and automates it, meaning you can buy ad space – across millions of websites – in real-time.
This all happens in ad exchanges; digital auctions where advertisers (who want to buy ad space online) and publishers (who own websites and want to sell ad space) come together.
In the past, advertisers had to make some assumptions about their audience when placing ads on websites. Want to reach football fans? Then buy ad space on fan forums. Want to sell all-inclusive holidays? Target travel blogs. All very logical but narrow in scope.
Programmatic advertising has turned this approach on its head. Instead of targeting certain websites, you can now target ads to specific users as they browse the web.
Programmatic ad buying can be split into three main categories:
Whether the auctions are open (RTB) or closed (PMP), the programmatic ad buying process looks like this:
The above process happens in milliseconds, with bids calculated by algorithms to determine the winner. But there’s more to winning than simply having the biggest budget.
While the ad impression loads in the user’s web browser, info about the page it’s on and who’s viewing it (such as age range, demographics, and past browsing history, if available) is sent to the ad exchange as part of the auction.
The advertiser’s DSP then quickly decides, based on that information, if the ad impression is worth bidding on – and how much to spend.
For example, let’s say you were browsing desks on IKEA’s website, without buying. Then, later, you click on your favourite blog. As that page loads, IKEA’s programmatic ad buying platform might place a higher bid than, say, Amazon for the ad impression because it knows you recently visited the IKEA site.
In the eyes of the DSP, your recent visit makes you more likely to click on the ad and potentially convert, making the higher bid a safer bet for a return on ad spend (ROAS).
If you want to introduce programmatic advertising to your business – or you need to justify hiring a programmatic ad buying expert – it’s worth noting these benefits:
Programmatic advertising offers a fast, efficient, and transparent alternative to the slow and expensive traditional ad buying experience. But it’s the ability to target individual users with highly relevant advertising in real-time that could benefit your business now and in the future.
Connect with a pre-vetted programmatic advertising expert on Traktion. All hirers can use our platform for free. Get started today.