Program Your Mind Around Programmatic Media Buying

Programmatic media buying is about as misunderstood as quantum physics. Ok… maybe that analogy is a bit off base, but the truth is – there’s a TON of confusion around programmatic, how it works, what the capabilities are, and how to get started.

If you work in marketing/advertising and you’re like me, you may hear your media team regurgitate the term programmatic in conversations about digital advertising a number of times before you can even process what it means. And by then, they’re already talking about something else that will take another 10-second lapse to understand. Maybe you’re on the client side and you have a technology obsessed digital guy who relentlessly talks programmatic, but can never quite give you a clear explanation of what exactly it is. Well, here’s your chance to get a little more detail and a little more confusion on this growing branch of advertising, which is expected to more than double by 2019, to over $35 billion.

The real truth about programmatic, is that it isn’t specific at all; it’s really a catch-all term that encompasses everything from real-time bidding and exchange-based purchasing of inventory, to behavioral-based targeting and real-time optimization of digital campaigns. At one point limited to search and display ads, programmatic is growing exponentially and now involves multiple mediums, including video, and can be executed across several channels (desktop, mobile, and coming soon… TV).

In the past, when an advertiser wanted to serve digital ads to users, they had to identify the best source for their audience, and reach out to the publisher to purchase ad inventory directly. Negotiations, insertion orders, creative specs and digital trafficking sheets later, they could finally hit the interwebz with their content. And tracking and updating campaigns was no easy feat.

Now in the days of smart phones, wifi in cars and planes, and voice-activated everything, marketers are troubled with an entirely different issue: an overwhelming amount of inventory and fragmentation in the digital space. Programmatic helps to make the process easier and more efficient by using automation to make media buying decisions, instead of getting down and dirty in the data and putting in the man hours. It’s about serving your bike helmet ads to bike owners, not my grandma who’s Googling how to set up her printer.

Ron Foth Advertising currently uses programmatic for a number of different clients to reach the right audience, at the right time. One example is Cosequin Joint Health Supplements, the #1 vet-recommended manufacturer of joint health supplements for dogs, cats and horses. Current programmatic campaigns are targeting pet owners (who have shown interest in joint health) to hit them with our content while consuming pet and pet-health related information. We’re also using programmatic for a large retail real estate client, to home in on people likely to shop in the zip codes targeted by the client’s properties. These ads aren’t specific to certain websites, but instead are programmed directly to target the desired customers on the websites they visit, and at times when they’re already considering online shopping or making online purchasing decisions.

When you think of programmatic media buying, think of taking your campaign goals, strategy, consumer data, creative formats, and potential media buys, and throwing them all in the oven to cook up a perfectly targeted and on-strategy digital buy. Programmatic makes the difficult, data-driven, decisions of what screens to be on, what websites to target to hit your true audience, and when to hit them, all in a productive and efficient manner that humans simply cannot maintain.

That’s programmatic, and yes, it’s as confusing as it seems. But when you think of it as an opportunity to use data, tech and software to bring more out of every dollar spent, that’s where it really gets interesting. Connect with us to learn how you can use programmatic media buying to optimize your campaigns for success.


Media Buying 101: What Is Programmatic Buying?