BlogWhat is Programmatic Advertising? The Easy Beginner’s Guide

April 19, 2022

Digital marketing is all about getting your brand in front of the right people. Programmatic advertising is the next evolution, allowing you to better target your audience in the right places and at the right times. 

While it sounds complicated (and it can be), programmatic advertising can be invaluable for small businesses, helping you secure that valuable ad space and get better value for your investment. 

Right now, programmatic advertising accounts for 88% of digital display ad spend – and this number is only growing. If you’re not on board, you’re missing out on a great chance to beat out your competitors and grow your business’ online presence. 

So to help you out, we’ve compiled everything you need to know about programmatic advertising. Read on and find out what programmatic advertising is, how it works, and how you can use it in your digital marketing strategy. 

What is programmatic advertising?

Programmatic advertising uses an automated bidding system to buy and sell ads in real-time. Basically, you use software to buy your digital ads – all in a fraction of a second.

There are two sides to the transaction: 

  • Advertisers, who want to buy ad space (that’s you!)
  • Publishers or website owners with space to sell

Advertisers use what is known as a Demand Side Platform (DSP) to bid on ads. A DSP allows you to place your bid and determine who you want to target based on things like location, age, previous online behaviour, and more. 

Publishers put their ad space up for sale using a Supply Side Platform (SSP). This is how many people monetise their websites and apps. By making their space available on an SSP, a new ad can be displayed every time the publisher’s website loads. 

How programmatic advertising works

Below is a step-by-step breakdown of how the programmatic advertising process works. 

  1. Your customer clicks on a website.
  2. The website owners puts up the ad space for auction using SSP.
  3. You automatically offer a bid using DSP.
  4. If you’re the highest bidder, congratulations! If not, your customer is going to see someone else’s ad. 
  5. Your customer sees the ad while scrolling and decides to click. From there, it’s up to your website and marketing to do the rest of the work!

Why is programmatic advertising so effective?

Better reach

Programmatic advertising works with several ad exchanges and networks, meaning you can reach more people without lots of effort or spending too much of your budget. 

More relevant content

Programmatic advertising allows you to use your whole ad inventory and display relevant messages to specific targeted audiences. 

And by streamlining the ad-buying processes, marketers can spend more time actually optimising the ads themselves to improve their campaigns. 

Less cost and better ROI

With programmatic advertising, you’re not just throwing things at the wall and hoping they’ll stick. The algorithm determines where your money will be best used so that you can see more results per dollar spent – and finetunes the process over the course of your campaign. 


Case Study: The Economist uses programmatic advertising for an ROI of 10:1

The Economist is a great example of how to use programmatic ads. To combat their reputation as a dull publication focused only on economics, politics, and business, their marketers decided to show potential readers what they could be reading.

Using already-existing content from the publication, along with attention-grabbing headlines, the ads used data to find readers who hadn’t spent a lot of time on the website and gave them content they were interested in. 

By delivering the right messages to the right people in the right context, the Economist was able to generate 650,000 new prospects with an ROI of 10:1. 

You can find out more about their campaign below. 


How can you use programmatic advertising in your digital marketing strategy?

Programmatic advertising is a great way to augment your current digital marketing efforts. Here’s how you can start using it to get ahead of your competitors. 

1) Get familiar with programmatic advertising

There are different types of programmatic advertising, and lots of different programmatic ad formats. If you’re thinking about jumping into this world, you need to familiarise yourself with the different ways you can automate your ad buying and the different terminology

2) Know your market

Programmatic advertising is only effective if you’re targeting the right audience. You could be winning all your bids, but if you’re showing your ads to people who could care less? You aren’t going to see that return on investment. 

Put in the work before you start advertising and find out who your ideal audience is. From there, you can make sure you’re targeting users who are interested in what you have to offer and who are more likely to convert. 

3) Know your goals

Do you want more brand awareness? More traffic to your website? More phone calls or people looking for a quote? Or do you want to make more sales? 

Every campaign you run will have a goal. Make sure you know what you’re aiming for and that your approach to programmatic advertising is in alignment. 

4) Don’t forget the human element!

Programmatic advertising certainly makes it easier to reach your digital marketing goals, but it shouldn’t completely replace the work of human marketers. Think of it more like a tool that you can use to streamline your process and get even better results. 

You need skilled marketers to oversee your programmatic advertising and plan and optimise your buying strategy. They can make sure that your ads are in the right place – both in terms of the people who are seeing it, and the websites your brand will be associated with. 

Get started with programmatic advertising

Feeling overwhelmed by all the options available to you? Don’t be! Our experts are here to help with any questions or concerns you may have, and will be happy to explain more about how we can use programmatic advertising to maximise your online presence. Call 1800 732 724 or connect with us online today. 

For more of the latest digital marketing advice, check out our Blog. You can also get in touch with our team to find out more about how we can get the best results for your ad campaigns.

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