There are a few options when it comes to buying programmatic advertising. Brands can work in buying platforms directly, pay the platform to build and manage the campaigns, or work with a digital agency. Selecting which option is best for you will depend on a variety of factors, including budget and bandwidth, but partnering with an agency is the most cost-effective approach.
First, let’s start with an overview of programmatic advertising and how it works.
What is Programmatic Advertising?
Programmatic advertising is the process of automated bidding and buying available advertising inventory based on targeting parameters on a buying platform. Programmatic ads include display, native, video, out-of-home (OOH), and OTT/Connected TV ads.
- Display: banner, video, or text ads in various sizes displayed across millions of different websites.
- Native: text and image ads that match the environment they display on and are “native” to the website’s format.
- Video: ads that are played before, during, and after video content across the web. Also known as pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll.
- OOH: outdoor advertisements such as billboards, posters, and transit. Advertisers can buy digital OOH placements through programmatic platforms.
- OTT/Connected TV: video ads that appear on Smart TVs within in-app streaming through an internet connection rather than broadcast TV.
How Does Programmatic Advertising Work?
Using software found within buying platforms, you’re able to set up targeting parameters and bid on inventory in real-time. These platforms use software with built-in algorithms to match advertisers to users that fit within their targeting criteria.
There are two main types of platforms used within the programmatic landscape. The first is on the buy-side and is called a demand-side platform (DSP). These platforms are made up of multiple ad exchanges and work with advertisers to serve ads relevant to their target audience. The second platform is on the sell-side and is called a supply-side platform (SSP). Like a DSP, these platforms use ad exchanges to work directly with publishers to manage their advertising inventory. Both platforms work together to show available inventory advertisers are bidding on in a matter of seconds.
Using a DSP allows you to bid on inventory in real-time. This type of bid strategy is called real-time bidding (RTB). RTB allows advertisers to reach their target audience at the right time. When a user who fits the targeting criteria goes to a website, the SSP communicates with the DSP and sends it to the auction. The advertiser with the winning bid has its ad served to the user. This entire process happens in real time as the website loads-in a matter of seconds.
Another key aspect of using a DSP is the variety of targeting options available for users at various stages of the marketing funnel. Below is an expanded list of capabilities:
- Prospecting: an upper-funnel tactic used to find high-performing inventory and grow remarketing lists.
- Contextual: an awareness and reach tactic used to share ads to users on contextually relevant content they’re viewing.
- Custom Site/App List: an upper-funnel tactic used to display ads to users on a pre-approved list of sites and apps.
- Private Marketplaces (PMPs): a mid-funnel tactic that gives advertisers access to purchase premium inventory.
- Behavioral: a mid-funnel tactic used to target different audiences based on various user behaviors such as intent or interest.
- Remarketing: a lower-funnel tactic used to retarget users who previously visited your website.
- Demographic: target different audiences based on various demographic factors, including age, gender, and household income.
- Lookalike/Similar: target lookalike/similar audiences based on current customers or recent conversions.
- Hyperlocal: target users based on their real-time location.
How to Start Using Programmatic Advertising
Once you understand programmatic advertising, the next steps are choosing the right DSP to work with and dedicating a strategist to manage the campaigns.
Evaluating a DSP
There are several factors involved when choosing which DSP to use. It’s essential to find a DSP that has a large amount of inventory and targeting options available. The DSP needs to innovate its technology to stay ahead of digital trends. It’s crucial that the platform has brand-safe functionality to prevent ads from showing up alongside questionable content. Reporting will need to be evaluated against your business goals, and have the ability to connect to your API to enhance campaign performance. As with any service you partner with, you will need to evaluate costs and fees associated with the technology, targeting, and platform management.
Lastly, an undervalued factor when choosing a DSP is partnering with someone you trust. Look for account representatives that understand your business goals and are transparent with their communication and deliverables.
Dedicate a Strategist
Managing campaigns within a DSP is a full-time job. It requires daily observation, communication, and optimizations within the platforms. Hiring a dedicated strategist with experience in programmatic platforms will alleviate stress from marketing managers and allow time to be spent in other areas of your business. However, you may not have the means to hire a dedicated strategist to handle your programmatic campaigns, which is why you can benefit from partnering with an agency to create and execute your campaigns for you.
The Benefits of Partnering With an Agency for Programmatic Advertising
Partnering with a digital agency to manage and fulfill programmatic campaigns is an efficient way to save time and money for your company. Below are just some of the benefits of hiring an agency for your programmatic efforts.
Established Partnerships With DSPs
When you work with a digital agency for your programmatic campaigns, they’ve done the DSP evaluations for you. In many cases, digital agencies have vetted and partnered with multiple DSPs in recent years to determine what works well for their clients. They’ve done the hard work in advance to create efficiencies within their campaigns.
Lower Costs While Maintaining the Same Value
Since the agency owns the partnership with the DSP, the cost for you, the client, goes down. Because an agency works with multiple clients within a DSP, the tech and management fees are distributed among those using the platform. These fees are conveniently rolled up into media spend, so you won’t be surprised by the platform’s additional expenses. In summary, you’re paying a much lower cost while maintaining the same value the DSP provides.
Leveraging Expertise of a Digital Agency
Working with an agency allows you to avoid hiring a dedicated strategist in-house. The agency will save your company expenses associated with an internal team member, and you’ll have access to the agency’s dedicated strategists with years of experience buying programmatic display media.
Creating Efficiencies Through Collaboration With Search and Social Efforts
If you are already partnering with an agency for all your search and social media advertising efforts, having them manage your programmatic strategy allows them to collaborate and drive better performance across all of your digital campaigns. The team can create efficiencies through audience building and sharing, creative insights, and campaign optimizations. These efficiencies also give the agency the ability to develop in-depth reporting on all of your digital advertising campaigns, so you have a clear understanding of the health and performance of your advertising strategy as a whole.
Programmatic advertising gives businesses the ability to buy inventory across websites in real time, using a variety of tactics to reach their target audience. However, buying in a programmatic platform is a time-consuming process that typically requires a dedicated strategist to manage campaigns. Partnering with a digital agency to manage your programmatic advertising efforts will save time and money while creating efficiencies within your overall digital marketing campaigns.