Programmatic Advertising -All You Need To Know

Programmatic Advertising
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Executive summary

In the era of machine learning, many companies have shifted their digital advertising and media buying habits. Many companies are now replacing people with machines when it comes to decision-making on buying Ads.

The fact is, most of the newly developed advertising systems are faster, better at making decisions, and implementing more accurate than humans.

Digital marketing has embraced these machines in several ways to improve efficiency, save cost, increase growth faster and compete better.

Today we have programmatic advertising which is been widely used in the industry by many companies to grow their outreach attracting new customers all over the world.

It has become so crucial to the point that almost every marketer is getting to use one or two systems that deliver programmatically media buying solutions.

We notice the importance of these systems and decided to write about them to improve your understanding of these tools and shape your media buying habits for good.

So first let’s start with the definition.

What is Programmatic Digital Advertising?

This is simply an automated way of buying and selling digital display advertising using big data and machine learning systems to make Ad placing decisions, cost of Ads, distribution channels etc.

Programmatic advertising trends

There has been a massive shift in the way companies across Europe and Americal has been buying digital advertising ads since 2016.

Let’s look at the trends for more insights.

According to emarketer, It is estimated that over half of the U.S ad spend will hit $45.72 billion dollars in 2019. This is a massive increase from $17.50 billion in 2016 all in the US advertising market alone.

U.S Programmatic ad spend

In major parts of Europe, countries such as Germany and France, Programmatic ad spend has also grown but not as much as the U.S advertising market.

Programmatic Ad spend in the U.K

Despite the uncertainty on Brexit and the implementation of the GDPR, the UK still remains positive when it comes to programmatic ad spend. It is reported that nine out of ten digital display ad pounds will be spent on programmatic advertising.

The UK programmatic ad market is second to the U.S and the largest in Europe with an estimated 6.8 billion pounds in 2020. This shows a significant increase from 2.8 billion pounds in 2016 according to eMarketer.

Programmatic spending

Programmatic Ad spend in Germany

eMarketer estimated Germany programmatic digital ad display will hit €1.982 billion euros in 2020. This is an increment from €768 million euros in 2016.

Even though programmatic digital display ad spends in Germany dropped a bit in mid-2018 due to the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Programmatic advertising still accounts for 70% of total digital display Ad in Germany.

The GDPR also does not seems to have a long-term negative impact on programmatic advertising.

programmatic display ad spending

Programmatic Ad spend in France

In France, the figures are less but significant. Programmatic digital ad spend in France hit €1.04 billion ($1.18 billion) in 2018. Based on eMarketer predictions, Investment in programmatic digital display ads is estimated to approach €1.22 billion ($1.38 billion).

Programmatic digital display

Here are some of the most asked questions about programmatic advertising

With confusing terms, marketers are confused with what means what, here are some of the answers to the most asked questions

How to do programmatic advertising?

Executing programmatic advertising is simply making the right decisions and allowing Ad networks algorithms to implement the process when needed.

Here is a list of things to consider when setting programmatic Ad Campaign

  1. Identify your target audience using Facebook Audience insight
  2. Target specific audience with about 50k to 60k size
  3. Collect and use your Facebook Pixel data
  4. Allow for automated placing
  5. Allow automated bidding
  6. Do split testing while using different targeting channels
  7. Set your budget, time and period and preferred cost per bid

These above listed can be applied on several platforms to maximize media buying in order to increase advertisers’ ROI.

How is programmatic different from real-time bidding?

These two advertising terms go hand in hand. Although there is a slight difference in their meaning and often misused by marketers.

Here is what it means…

Real-time bidding simply means a process where bidding of ad inventory is done between online advertisers and sold by publishers using an action model in an online ad exchange.

The bidder with the highest amount wins’ and makes the purchase. The bidding process takes a few minutes usually one to three seconds.

On the other hand…

Programmatic advertising involves the buying and selling of media by using ad systems to make decisions as regards ad placement, audience size, devices, cost, etc.

What is a Demand Side Platform (DSP)?

A demand-side platform also known as DSP is an advertising system that allows online advertisers to buy and manage multiple digital ad inventories from multiple ad exchange and data exchange accounts using one interface.

Benefits of programmatic advertising

There are many advantages to engaging in programmatic media buying and here are some of them.

Programmatic advertising and DSP platforms


Most programmatic media buying systems allow advertisers to manage multiple channels in one system. This saves time, resources, and energy allowing them to concentrate and improve efficiency.


In many cases, these programmatic ad technologies are accurate in their targeting making them very beneficial for advertisers.

With the use of real-time data, most campaigns are able to return very high ROI media buyers need.

What are the limitations of programmatic media buying?

Even though there are benefits of programmatic advertising, there are also some negative issues with it.

These disadvantages are as follows…


Advertising fraud has always been a problem in the advertising industry. It kept becoming sophisticated day by day. There is so much fraud associated with online advertising and programmatic is not left out.

Because it’s not done in real-time, some publishers have the tendency to cheat by sending bolt traffic to the buyer and claiming it’s real traffic.

Another disadvantage of this is that,…

It costly

Because most programmatic ad campaigns are highly targeted and narrowed down with precision. Ad Networks charge a bit higher for such targeting when they have the capacity to deliver such Ads.

This is because quality stuff is often expensive and quality traffic is as well expensive.


Too often publishers have the habit of exchanging or redirecting ad to their affiliates which lead to misplacement on the wrong media source.

Misplacement on the wrong media results in the wrong traffic as it’s shown to the wrong audience resulting in a bad reputation for the brand.

Just imagine programming your media buying campaign for an adult site that might end up showing on teenagers’ game sites. Even though this might sound crazy, unfortunately, it has happened and will continue to happen.

What is programmatic media buying?

This simply means using software to purchase online advertising slots from publishers across several platforms. Or you can put it as it is an automated process of buying display advertising.

What does programmatic advertising mean?

Programmatic advertising refers to an automated system that allows advertisers to process online advertising transactions involved in dynamically placing ads on publishers’ websites or apps. 

It makes it easy to make targeting and pricing decisions, bidding and placing decisions, and apportion costs based on the best scenarios at the moment.

What’s the best programmatic platform?

There are several ad networks that allow marketers to use their programmatic systems for digital media buying and selling campaigns.

These platforms are many and here are the few ones you can trust and work with.

This is simply one of the best and most popular retargeting advertising systems known to marketers. The uniqueness of their programmatic ad targeting technology known as BidIQ makes them one of the best targeting platforms in the industry.

Programmatic advertising Platform

Since precise targeting requires data, AdRoll focused more on social media such as Facebook and Instagram to make its programmatic ad campaign more effective.

Adobe Marketing Cloud
Adobe automation platform claims to be a Leader in Cross-Channel Campaign Management offering advertisers the best programmatic targeting tools.

Adobe Marketing cloud

Their Ad targeting allows advertisers to automate their advertising campaigns using machine learning tools while giving them access to monitor where their ads are placed and run.

Even though it was launched recently in 2017, the platform is an efficient and effective programmatic advertising platform for digital marketers.

Rubicon Project
Rubicon Project boasts 900.000 advertisers’ bids, about 12 trillion bids per month, 5 million bits per second and 500, 000 ads per second shows how massive the programmatic platform is.

Many well-known brands such as eBay, CNN, Google, Spotify, SoundCloud US today sport and many thousands of brands across all industries use Rubicon for media buying to deliver their advertising to their targeted audience.

Known as one of the biggest and most effective online advertising tools in the industry.

Google’s DoubleClick gives advertisers the opportunity to buy media and how optimize them for better campaign results.

It offers publishers also a great opportunity to monitor their campaigns in real-time in order to identify what is performing and what is not so as to eliminate what is not working for optimal results.

This is another great programmatic platform for advertisers using big data from their trusted third-party partners and the advertiser’s data to scale and improve the precision of the media buyers campaign.

Programmatic ad campaign analytics

Their advertising software allows advertisers to liberate their video ads, display ads, mobile ads, Interstitial Ads with transparency in real-time. The company charge $99 for a monthly subscription with no minimum ad spend.

AdReady is an innovative Solutions for Advertisers, Publishers, and Agencies. Just like other programmatic platforms, AdReady gives advertisers the ability to customize their campaigns to drive the performance that they need for higher advertising ROI.

Programmatic ad network

Its cutting-edge technology allows companies to focus on their ROIs rather than benchmarks. They maintain transparency and are geared toward client goals, using an optimized media mix to beat KPIs.

Last on this list but not least is Centro.

A platform used by advertisers to run their digital advertising campaigns across multiple channels.

They have a great platform that integrates not only media buying but also many other media buying, communication tools, and analytical tools necessary for your campaign’s success.

Programmatic advertising platform

They combine DSP buys, budgets, direct buys, and social buys giving advertisers all the tools they need for efficient and effective campaigns.


Digital advertising has been experiencing several changes in the past few years which brought about programmatic advertising. Am not sure what will come on board next for display advertising.

If you have experienced changes in the topic we discussed in this post, it will be great if you can share your experience with us.

Let us know what you think of the post, and suggest ways we can improve it and make it more valuable. We ask you to share your expertise in the comment section.

If you are new to the industry or programmatic advertising, please let us know if this post has helped you learn one or two things in the comment section.

Eugene Agoh

Eugene Agoh

Founder at AdsTargets | Online advertising expert | Search engine optimisation expert | Social media marketing expert.Eugene is a Passionate writer on topics relating to online advertising, branding and generally interested in creating digital marketing content. He is curious about the future of digital advertising.Follow Eugene on LinkedIn @ eugeneagoh

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