A Guide to Programmatic Buying

While programmatic buys can save money, the practice has its limitations.

programmatic buying

programmatic buying

“Programmatic buying is the gluten of advertising,” Jimmy Kimmel joked during ABC’s recent upfront presentation, reported Ad Age. “Like gluten, ‘programmatic’ has become a buzzword that many people use but few really understand. They just know it’s important. For some reason.”

The Association of National Advertisers found that only 26 percent of marketers (of 153 surveyed) knew what programmatic buying is and have actually used it. Another 74 percent were either completely oblivious, or somewhat aware, but still in need of education.

Even those who do use programmatic media buying tools are unclear about exactly how they function. Programmatic simply means automated, explains Ad Age:

“A lot of people confuse it with buying ads through computer-run auctions — known as real-time bidding — but that’s just one way to buy ads programmatically. At its core, programmatic buying is any ad buy that gets processed through machines.”

Brian Lesser, global CEO of programmatic media-buying platform Xaxis, told Ad Age, “What you’re seeing is a fundamental shift in not just how media is bought, but how advertisers can engage with consumers more effectively.”

While programmatic buying can involve multiple paid vendors that ensure specific verification types and targeting, programmatic buys can save money.

Similarly, while a majority of buying will be done programmatically, it isn’t likely that 100 percent of brand ads will be automated due to its limitations for “deep brand integrations, content plays and tentpole events.”

Earlier this month, Ad Age obtained a document American Express sent to potential ad-tech partners, stating a goal of spending 100 percent of its online display-ad budget programmatically. That seems to be more of an ambition than expectation. When asked about its 100 percent programmatic goal, American Express walked it back, calling it more of a “theoretical strategic thought.”

The Ad Age post also speaks to the fraud occurring in the programmatic ecosystem, whether television and premium publishers are going programmatic and if programmatic campaigns must be run through Google.