A Beginner’s Guide to Programmatic Ad Buying

The most basic way to describe programmatic ad buying would be, it is a way for advertisers to place media buys through an automated system instead of doing it manually.  Although this concept has been around for some time now, it is commonly misunderstood and underutilized by marketers.

Although this strategy has been explored with television advertising and other tactics, it is most commonly used when purchasing online display ads.  In the past, advertisers would place an internet ad buy, let the campaign run for a few weeks or months, and then look to optimize it if need be.  Programmatic ad buying allows the optimization process to occur in real time, which has been a huge plus for marketers across the board.

That being said, many people are still confusing the term, “real time bidding” or “RTB” with programmatic ad buying.  RTB is simply one way to purchase media programmatically.  With RTB, advertisers purchase impressions from publishers through an auction-based system.  You can read more on that here.

So how does it all work?

Once the target audience is identified by common characteristics such as demographics, geography, interests, behaviors, time of day, weather and device, the online programmatic platform then uses RTB, first and third party data to identify the best digital audience for the campaign.  The platform then purchases digital ad inventory through a bidding system.  Users are served the ad or ads in places they visit most frequently and across multiple devices.  From there, insights are gathered and the campaign is optimized.  All in real time.

Pretty cool, huh?

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