Programmatic buying is quickly gaining exposure within the marketing world. An increasing number of media agencies (and major domestic and international companies that operate in many different industries) are starting to expose themselves to the competitive advantages that this new buying system offers.

Typically, advertising agencies (buyers) negotiate directly with various publishers (sellers) to buy the ad inventory desired to achieve set marketing campaign goals and gain exposure for the clients that they serve. However, as more and more inventory is sold, there becomes a way to offer fully automated and continually optimizing bulk ad impressions in real time. This method is known as real-time bidding (RTB), and it is just one of the many new methods offered under the programmatic/automated umbrella.

Real-time bidding is mainly used to purchase digital and mobile inventory on a per impression basis. The process is similar to a traditional auction environment, where a certain ad inventory is sold for the unique price it happens to be worth to buyers at that specific moment in time. The final price will be reflective of the value to the buyer, market conditions, ad criteria/makeup, reach, frequency, etc. The buying technology facilitates this transaction instantaneously and on a mass inventory scale. In addition, high level algorithms will continually revise campaigns in order to optimize the total impressions achieved across the various channels purchased. Advanced programmatic systems can even retarget and layer on audience segments during the campaign run. It recognizes the viewer’s specific characteristics and will only match that impression if it aligns with the advertiser’s targeting criteria.  This is to reduce the human upkeep necessary when tracking campaign results.


Programmatic buying is here to stay. Magna Global states that “the amount of US digital display ad dollars transacted via programmatic channels will total nearly $17 billion by 2017.” Nonetheless, there are still unanswered questions about transparency that need to be addressed. The first is knowing what inventory you are buying and where it will be placed. If you are expecting a certain number of impressions and a placement on a premium site, you may still reach your impression count but through placements on multiple lower quality sites. The other common point speaks to selling premium inventory at extremely high prices, with sellers pocketing the extra dollars for greater margins. These issues are being explored and are not to be expected when dealing with reputable and transparent programmatic partners.


The future of programmatic exchanges is expected to grow digital and mobile spending. Video and TV ad spending is also being explored in great depth. This includes additional methods other than RTB, such as Automated Guaranteed and Unreserved Fixed Rate to name a few. “By 2017, it is predicted that programmatic sales will largely overtake traditional direct-to-publisher transactions with RTB and non-RTB based programmatic channels accounting for 83% of all US digital display ad spending,” states Magna Global.

With investment dollars in place to grow programmatic platforms, and with growing concerns being addressed, more buyers and sellers now have a new and improved way of communicating that serves as a better campaign tool to deliver faster and higher quality results to clients.