Programmatic for Dummies

You know that it’s really important, and that it uses computers. That young, ad tech-obsessed guy at your office talks about it incessantly, throwing around acronyms and speaking of the dire need to plug into multiple platforms. You’re pretty sure that robots might be involved, and you’re kind of hoping it doesn’t become mainstream before you retire. • The fact is, programmatic is a fast-growing part of the buying and selling of media. How fast? This year, eMarketer predicts that advertisers in the U.S. will spend $3.36 billion on a thing called “real-time bidding,” up from just shy of $2 billion in 2012. That sure sounds like a lot of money. But still, you find yourself wondering: What does that mean? • In the spirit of the For Dummies book series, we present a primer for the ad exec who’s not sure whether programmatic is real, coming soon or requires a Commodore 64 to conduct business. One caution: Not everyone sees it the same way just yet. —Mike Shields