Programmatic advertising uses automated technology for ad media buying instead of manual, though often aided by software, digital advertising methods. Programmatic media buying utilizes data insights and algorithms to buy ad space in real-time for a particular brand to the right audience at the right time and at the right price.

Programmatic advertising has revolutionized how we buy and sell ad space inventory and is now a critical component of a digital marketing strategy.  By 2023, brand spending on programmatic will reach over $140 billion, according to eMarketer.  

How Does Programmatic Advertising Work?

Programmatic advertising works through artificial intelligence and real-time bidding to help automate and streamline the programmatic ad buying process across the full open web, audio, and connected TV with diverse ad formats via ad exchanges. There is a focus on the audience rather than the site or publisher, but finding the audience where they are on the full open web, audio, and TV to reach them via online advertising. 

Programmatic advertising campaigns allow you to specify a target audience, budgets, and goals for a campaign. Ad experts can configure the campaign to place diverse ad formats across dozens of ad networks to reach your highly targeted audience. Programmatic buying works similarly to a lot of modern investing programs that work via artificial intelligence. You specify what percentage of your portfolio you want to invest in different stocks and bonds, and your risk tolerance and software programs can help determine the best path to financial success. 

Programmatic stands out based on the granularity of targeting you can implement without all of the human negotiations. Hundreds of targeting options and levers can be pulled via programmatic ad buying to build a unique media plan and campaign to find new users, learn about your brand, and nurture them along the sales funnel to purchase. 

Targeting options fall into three main buckets:

  1. Behavior targeting focuses on what is your target audience searching for online (in any site with a search box, not just Google) and what content they are reading – either based on keywords in the content or the category of the site/page. You can also utilize third-party data segments to target users based on previous purchases, what they’re in the market for, what products they’ve shown interest in, etc.
  2. Demographic targeting is much more expansive than Facebook options because programmatic ad networks have stayed ahead of the curve with privacy. So you cannot only target age, and gender but also language, income/net worth, how much their home is worth, expendable income, and more with your ad impressions.
  3. Geographic targeting relies on standard zip code or city/region targeting but can also utilize geo-fencing technology to target users based on their foot traffic. Were they visiting your competitor’s retail locations, attending a conference or event, and commuting on a certain highway?

Programmatic marketing experts are experienced in setting up different targeting campaigns to help build a full-funnel approach to your purchase journey and utilize different ad inventories and display ad formats to nurture these users to convert. A programmatic marketing campaign can share messaging through Display ads, Native ads, Video Pre-roll / Mid-roll and Post-Roll, Streaming Audio and Podcasts, and Streaming TV.

What is an example of programmatic advertising?

There are hundreds of ways to build a unique programmatic advertising campaign. Let’s say you’re selling a high-tech ski helmet, you can choose to only target ski enthusiasts that are parents and only target them after they visit certain ski resorts throughout the US mountain west, with your goal being e-commerce purchases. 

A programmatic campaign would take all these parameters and analyze them against hundreds of data points to select the best sites or apps and bids to drive maximum ecommerce sales. You could serve them ads via an ad exchange on streaming TV and then retarget users that watched those ads with display advertising to drive them to your website. If they abandon your site, you could serve additional video pre-roll ads to help educate them on more product features and native ads via programmatic ad buying to share more content. 

There are several types of programmatic ads, including:

  • Display Ads, Social Ads
  • In-Display Video Ads
  • Pre-Roll, Mid-Roll, and Post-Roll Video Ads
  • In-Stream and Out-Stream Video Ads
  • Native Ads
  • TV Ads

Programmatic advertising differs from digital advertising in that programmatic ad placements are a piece of digital advertising created in response to the increasing complexity of more channels and formats available to utilize in advertising. 

What’s The Difference Between Programmatic And Display Ads?

The terms refer to different components of digital advertising. Programmatic refers to how ads are purchased and placed, where Display is an ad format. Some display ads are served with Programmatic technology, and some Programmatic campaigns would utilize display ads in the media mix. You can have a contract directly with a website to place display ads on their website. Still, buying programmatically, you would display ads to open inventory, purchasing via real-time bidding, and could serve on any site on the web or apps your target user is visiting.

Many advertisers are familiar with Google Display ad placements as part of a paid search campaign. Serving ads on the Google Display Network integrates with sites that partner with Google, or are owned by Google, like Youtube. You can get more information here on the Googld DSP here: . Utilizing Display through programmatic buying with Demand Side Platforms (DSPs)  offers much more scale, exceptionally more granular targeting capabilities, and the ability to utilize more ad formats. 

Programmatic advertising can utilize display, native, video, audio, and streaming tv ads in the mix. There is integrated simplicity to access these as all can be done by your programmatic agency through a DSP, utilizing one flexible budget. 

When should you consider programmatic ads?

Programmatic advertising offers many options with targeting, ad inventory, and advertising formats that it can be utilized at any time in a company’s growth strategy. We recommend you have a website and an understanding of your ideal customer persona to target, goals, and some budget to invest in growth. Below are the main reasons we’ve seen programmatic serve as a powerful tool.

  • Growth Mode
    • The business is looking to build market share and brand awareness and is ready to invest in diverse strategies strategically. 
  • Enter New Markets
    • Programmatic can reach new target customers when a company is looking to drive growth in new markets, from neighborhoods to regions or even countries. 
  • Target Specific Audience
    • Programmatic advertisements’ biggest strength is the granular targeting available across devices. Suppose you cannot get granular enough with social networks and Google. In that case, you may want to explore options for finding those audiences with targeting available with Demand Side platforms that spend the full web, audio, and streaming tv. 
  • Testing Ad Creatives On More Platforms
    • You may have been testing ad creatives with Facebook, but you’re only reaching users utilizing Facebook without gaining as detailed insights as you can. Take your high-performing creatives and videos and push them out to the wider web, where you can see how a broader audience interacts with them. 
  • Bids Become Super Competitive or Restrictive
    • Many companies have been restricted with targeting capabilities with ios14 or updates with Google and Facebook, making it difficult to advertise. Programmatic advertising has stayed ahead of regulations with data privacy technology that doesn’t have nearly the same restrictions. For ultra-competitive marketing, advertising to targeted audiences across more inventory helps to keep costs down and reach customers in unique ways from competitors.

How do I measure the results of programmatic advertising?

Many programmatic advertising campaigns help build the upper funnel of marketing strategies with new users earlier in their journey. With high growth strategies, building them upon a strong foundation of conversion-driven campaigns like Paid Search and a good website with strong content and conversion actions is important. 

Targeting strategies to reach new users will help to learn about a brand or product, but they may not be at the point to click through an ad and purchase at that moment. You should look for an overall increase in traffic from other sources – direct, organic, and brand searches with PPC. 

Attribution providers are great resources to map out all of your campaigns and better understand the touchpoints of the journey. It’s important to understand the impact of ad impressions, video views, connected tv views, and other ad formats that don’t drive only clicks. 

It helps to build strategies that align through the funnel. When targeting an audience persona with branding strategies, make sure that other campaigns are built to help those convert later on so that you can see a lift in audiences and conversions. 

Finally, like any marketing campaign, it is important to continuously test and optimize to improve the performance of your programmatic marketing campaign. Working with an agency or partner specializing in programmatic advertising will help build a custom media plan that fits your company’s goals.

Programmatic campaigns work best when they are a strong part of a marketing campaign that helps drive users through conversion points, increasing overall conversion rates. 

Above The Fold – Programmatic Advertising Agency

Above the Fold has a team focused on programmatic advertising for diverse companies and industry verticals. We help companies understand their customer personas, how their current strategies reach them, and where the gaps and opportunities are to efficiently target them across the full web with Display, Native, Video, Audio / Podcasts, and Streaming TV advertisements. 

Reach out to Above the Fold for a custom strategy call where you can come away with a media plan that outlines new ways to win the hearts and minds of your target audience.