What is programmatic advertising?

DSM Digital School of Marketing - advertising

By now, it’s safe to assume that you’ve heard about automation. By automating even the smallest of marketing tasks, agencies are able to build better marketing campaigns, and execute them in a more effective way – thanks to artificial intelligence and machine learning. Before, pay-per-click (PPC) advertisers had to manually set up advert campaigns. Each headline and description had to be written out; audiences had to be manually defined; budgets had to be approved and manually assigned. Today, we remove all the guesswork out of paid online advertising with programmatic advertising. Here’s what it is, how it works, and how it is already benefitting marketing teams across the globe:

Programmatic advertising

So, what exactly is programmatic advertising? Well, think about the way PPC ads have been done in the past. Someone would have to manually bid on keywords and hope that they’ve done well enough to land a top position for their ad. This involved human guesswork, and since we’re not machines – it wasn’t a perfect procedure.

However, advertisers wanted to see what machines would do in the same situation and if they could optimise the process of placing online adverts using artificial intelligence. This worked, and the process of allowing machines to book advertising slots online is now becoming the industry standard.

Programmatic advertising can segment audiences using online data (within moments), and build target audiences for advert campaigns that are much more representative of the audience members the advertiser is trying to target. In other words, it removes the ‘wide net’ approach to targeting and helps us drill down even further to target the people that are just right for our brand.

Data-driven decisions

The best way to get a clear understanding of programmatic advertising is to see it in action with an example. The client is Super Surfers, and they sell surfboards.

Super Surfers start making use of a programmatic advertising platform, which can automatically identify internet users based, among others, the following criteria:

  • Demographics (male/female/18 – 45)
  • Geography (lives close to the beach)
  • Interests (extreme sports/surfing/water sports)
  • Behaviours (reading surf blogs/browsing surfing equipment)
  • Weather (is it sunny where the audience member is?)
  • Device (PC, laptop, smartphone)

Programmatic advertising algorithms can leverage real-time data to identify the best-possible target audiences for the advertising campaign. It then buys digital ad inventory through an auction-based on all advert openings across multiple devices.

So, programmatic advertising systems automatically choose the types of ads to show, where to show them, at what times, and who to target. This ensures that intelligent connections are made, insights are generated and learnt from, and that ad campaign performance is optimised.


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