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Marketing 360: What Are Programmatic Ads?

When many of us started in marketing, you had to work directly through your favorite publications to show banner ads to your target audiences. This “direct to pub” buying is still an important part of a well-balanced media mix, but emerging marketing technologies and crumbling barriers to entry are quickly changing what this media landscape looks like.

Real-Time Bidding (RTB) platforms have been growing in popularity, starting with Google AdWords and other platforms which allow marketers to join live “auctions” where ad placements are the commodity.

How is programmatic buying different?
Think about something like Expedia or Hotel Tonight where open rooms are sold at a fraction of their normal price. These programmatic ads work in much the same way—the available ad space goes on the auction block, where marketers then bid and compete with each other in a fraction of a second (that’s where you get real-time bidding/buying from). It all happens in a program, or programmatic fashion.

What are the benefits of programmatic ads?
Programmatic ads allow you to target the who, and not just the where. How? These RTB platforms source third-party data like Nielsen to build audience information from across the web, which you then use for your segmentation. Another huge advantage of these ads is that you can adjust spending, targeting and creatives midway through your campaign. This allows for adjusting budgets from non-working media to higher-converting media.

Where do we go from here?
Be aware that programmatic ads are not the end-all, be-all. Programmatic advertising has limitations such as publisher capabilities, audience segmentation, and the ever-growing use of ad blockers. While it is great for building awareness by reaching the right people based not on where they are but who they are, programmatic advertising may not ideal to use as a stand-alone tactic because it doesn’t push people all the way through the funnel. Keep your eye out for more emerging digital advertising technologies growing in popularity such as , the use of pre-roll video (it plays before your YouTube video), and .


This post is part of Chempetitive Group's Marketing 360 series. These articles offer a high-level analysis of a very specific science marketing area, delivering a smart overview in just 360 words.


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