I’m sure you’ve been hearing the buzz words “programmatic media buying” or “programmatic buying” all over the place lately. It’s thrown around often and referred to as a great thing, but what is it, really?
If you run any online marketing campaigns, you’re already involved in programmatic advertising. In jargon-speak, programmatic buying automates the buying and optimization of online campaigns. Think real-time bidding (RTB) here; we buy up inventory from an ad exchange, and that exchange enters our ads into a bid. Online ad networks allow us to target specific users and report in ways that are impossible for a TV, radio, or print campaign.
In a nutshell, programmatic means you work with either exchanges or inventory aggregators that connect you with thousands and thousands of websites willing to host your ad.
If you’re running online marketing campaigns and wondering why the word automation is even involved in the definition, I feel you. Yes, we can set up our campaigns, daily budgets, and targets and let them run wild. Programmatic buying allows us to push a few buttons, pull some levers, and let ‘er rip. It allows us to target thousands of users in a single dashboard and deliver tangible results to clients. But when it comes down to it, there is an entire industry of folks (I’m looking at you, LDM Paid Search Team) that spends hours of their lives managing and optimizing programmatic buys. Programmatic buying ends at RTB. It’s the humans pushing the levers—and adjusting them everyday, every hour, trying to keep up with an RTB method that oftentimes out-paces us—that are responsible for delivering positive results to our clients. Managing hundreds of programmatic buys across different verticals and different ad exchanges, you lose sight of the fact that anything at all is really “automated.”
Do I love programmatic? Heck yes. I can’t imagine the digital landscape without it. It has allowed us to focus on the optimization and refinement of campaigns as opposed to the buying of media. It has put endless media at our fingertips and made us exponentially more efficient as online advertisers.
But with great power comes great responsibility; it’s what you do after the programmatic part that really makes a difference.