How to do Programmatic Advertising

Interested in getting started with Programmatic Advertising but have no idea where to start? Have no fear! This guide to Programmatic Advertising will explain everything you need to know about the basics of Programmatic Advertising and walk you through what’s involved in setting up your first Programmatic campaign with Gourmet Ads.

What Are Programmatic Ads?

Let’s start off by giving our subject matter a definition.

Simply put, Programmatic Advertising refers to the use of software to administer the ad buying process. This is in contrast to the conventional method of digital advertising, which usually requires several steps of manual tenders, proposals, quotes and negotiations between buyers and sellers.

The basic steps of programmatic buying are as follows: An individual clicks on a webpage. The website owner auctions off the ad impression (SSP) Bids are made by advertisers for each impression (DSP) The ad impression is won by the highest bidder. The user sees the advertisement on the website. The user clicks on the advertisement and presumably converts. Despite the lengthy procedure, everything happens in a split second.

It’s lauded as the next great innovation in marketing, using algorithmic technology and data to streamline online display deals at an efficiency never seen before.

How Does Programmatic Advertising Work?

As has already been covered, programmatic advertising uses software to administer the ad buying process. It consists of several pillars, each of which have their own specific role in facilitating transactions. Through the following, we’ll break down each and explain what specific functions they perform.

The Four Main Components Of Programmatic Advertising

Programmatic advertising works through four main components: Demand Side Platforms (DSPs), Supply Side Platforms (SSPs), Data Management Platforms (DMPs) and Ad Exchanges. Each has their own place in the greater ecosystem, and as such, will hold different values for different marketers.

Demand Side Platforms (DSPs)

A Demand Side Platform (DSP) is a type of web server-based system that advertisers use to buy ad inventories.  Traditionally, advertisers would approach publishers directly to negotiate ad placements. However, with a DSP in place, this process is automated as the system will buy ad impressions from multiple SSPs in real time bidding (RTB) auctions.

Supply Side Platforms (SSPs)

A Supply Side Platform (SSP) is the counterpart to a DSP, and is used by publishers to help them sell their ad inventories. SSPs will usually work with various ad exchanges to help them connect with demand-side platforms and advertisers.

Data Management Platforms (DMPs)

A Data Management Platform (DMP) is a type of software that helps organizations centralize and organize their programmatic media buying data. This data can come from various sources, including first-party data (data that is collected by the organization itself), second-party data (data that is collected by another organization) and third-party data (data that is collected by a data provider).

DMPs are beneficial for both advertisers and publishers as they help them better understand their target audience. This understanding can then be used to create more targeted and effective marketing campaigns.

Ad Exchanges

An ad exchange is a type of online marketplace that connects advertisers and publishers. Ad exchanges will typically work with both DSPs and SSPs to help them buy and sell ad inventory. They’re all-in-one platforms that make it easy for both advertisers and publishers to find each other and do business.

The Popularization Of Programmatic Advertising

If you’ve been looking to find out more about programmatic advertising, you’re not alone. The sector has exploded in recent years and is quickly becoming the mainstream option for display marketers. In fact, Insider Intelligence data shows that programmatic advertising is projected to reach $133 billion – or 93% – of total digital ad spend by 2023.

Why is that?

Ad server platform track data such as impressions and clicks that advertisers can use to track the effectiveness of their ads and improve marketing strategies. Well, programmatic advertising has become a favorite among advertisers for many reasons. Not only is it new and innovative, but it also offers numerous benefits that other ad-buying approaches don’t, like the following.

Increased Efficiency – The first, and perhaps most obvious, benefit of programmatic advertising is the simple fact that it’s efficient. Unlike traditional ad buying that requires multiple steps of manual work, programmatic tools streamline interactions between buyers and sellers to  make the entire process more efficient.

Improved Targeting – Another big benefit of programmatic advertising is improved targeting. With traditional ad buying, it can be difficult to target specific audiences. Programmatic tools, on the other hand, make it easy to target ads to specific groups of people based on things like age, location, gender, interests, and even past behavior.

Real-Time Bidding – One of the unique aspects of programmatic advertising is real-time bidding (RTB). This means that advertisers can bid on ad space in real-time, which gives them a lot more control over where their ads are shown.

Greater Transparency – A final benefit of programmatic advertising is the increased transparency it offers. Because programmatic tools provide more data and information about where ads are being shown, advertisers can have greater confidence that their ads are being seen by the people they want to see them.

How To Get Started With Programmatic Advertising

Ready to delve into the world of programmatic advertising? Make sure you go about it the right way. Here’s a breakdown of the steps you can expect to (and should) take when launching your first successful programmatic ad campaign.

1. Preparation

No good plan doesn’t start without preparation, and when getting started with programmatic advertising, it’s in your best interest to take time and due diligence  in this stage. This of course means understanding what programmatic is, how it works, and the different types of programmatic platforms that exist (as we’ve already covered), as well as the circumstance-specific considerations you should be making before launching a campaign.

These include:

Goal Setting

Do you know what specific goals you’d like to achieve from your programmatic ad campaign? If not, it’s as good as nothing from the starting gate. Being very targeted in nature, programmatic campaigns require a certain degree of strategy  to make them successful – meaning you can’t just go into it without a good idea of what you’re aiming for.

Some common goals that brands set for themselves with programmatic ad campaigns include:

–          Increasing reach

–          Generating awareness

–          Creating consideration

–          Driving conversions

–          Increasing brand affinity

–          Increasing ROI

Determining What Type Of Programmatic Ad Campaign You’d Like To Run

Once you’ve nailed a goal down, the next thing you’ll need to do is determine what type of programmatic ad you’d like to run. Multiple ad exchanges offer a slew of formats to choose from, including but not limited to traditional banner display, in-app, video and native. While this range of options  can be great for getting creative, it can also make things feel a bit overwhelming – so take some time to research each one and determine which is best suited for achieving your campaign goal.

Signing Up for The Right Demand-Side Platform

After you’ve gathered all of your campaign’s ingredients and are ready to move forward, the next step on the list is signing up for a demand side platform to  host your campaign.

But not just any DSP – there are tons of platforms out there, each offering their own advantages and disadvantages. Do your research and sign up for the one that makes the most sense for your specific needs.

Considerations you should make when choosing a DSP include:

Ease of use – How easy is the platform to navigate and understand? If you’re not tech-savvy, you’ll want to choose a platform with a user-friendly interface.

Features – Does the platform offer all of the features you need to run your campaign successfully? Make sure to compare features before making a decision.

Customer service – How responsive is the customer service team? If you encounter any issues while running your campaign, you’ll want to be able to reach someone for help ASAP.

Pricing – How much does the platform cost? Some DSPs charge a flat fee while others take a percentage of your ad spend. Consider your budget and choose accordingly.

2. Launch

So, you’ve got all your ducks in a row and are itching to move forward in launching your programmatic ad. What’s next?

Setting Your Campaign’s CPM And Budget

The good thing about Demand Side Platforms is that almost all allow you to  set your own CMP, unlike many PPC tools which have a set cost-per-click. With DMPs, you’re able to specify the exact programmatic advertising cost you can afford and only end up paying for impressions within that limit.

With that being said, industry data shows that the average CPM for programmatic ads currently sits at around $1.75.

Once you’ve determined how much you’re willing to spend on each impression, you’ll need to set an overall budget for your campaign.

A good rule of thumb is to start small – you can always increase your budget if you see that your campaign is performing well, but it’s much harder to decrease a budget that’s already been set.


Now that you’ve specified your campaign goal, it’s time to define which basic targeting protocols your ad will follow. Some DSPs will have different targeting options than others, but what you can almost always expect to find include:

Language – Language targeting options allow you to specify what languages  you would or would not like your ad to be served to. It’s worth noting that this control is different from location-based targeting options; instead of being served to users based on their location, ads will populate based on the language settings of their device.

Location – Location-based targeting options are pretty self explanatory – they allow you to specify which geographical areas you would or would not like your ad to be served in.

Device – Device targeting options let you specify which devices you would or would not like your ad to be served to. This can include options such as desktop, laptop, mobile, tablet, etc.

Operating System – Operating System controls generally go hand-in-hand with device specification targeting options. Here, you’re able to specify which Operating Systems (OS) you would or would not like your ad to be served to. Examples of common OS targeting options include iOS, Android, Windows, etc.

Browser – Browser targeting options let you specify which browsers you would or would not like your ad to be served to. This can include options such as Safari, Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, etc.

IAB Category – IAB categories are  a set of predetermined topics that content can be classified under. Otherwise known as ‘content taxonomy’, they’re defined by the Interactive Advertising Bureau  and are used to target ads to users based on the types of content they’re engaging with.

Supply-Side Platform (Source Of Traffic) – Multiple ad exchanges will also offer the ability to target based on the specific Supply-Side Platform (SSP) that your ad is being served on. This can be helpful if you’re looking to target a specific audience on a specific site or network.

Selecting A Type Of Creative And Setting Up Ad Markup

Having covered this in the planning stage, you should already know what type of ad you’d like to create. This means that all you need to do now is select a size and format that’s compatible with the type of ad space you’re looking to get and upload the creative itself.

Examples include:

  • Video ads
  • Banner ads
  • In app ads

‘Ad markup’ is a term used to reference the code  that’s used to display your ad on a webpage. While the process of setting up this code will vary depending on the DSP you’re using, the end goal is always the same – to ensure that your ad is properly formatted and displayed to users.

In most cases, all you’ll need to do is copy and paste a snippet of code into the HTML of your ad. This code will generally be provided to you by your ad exchange or DSP, and will contain all of the information necessary for your ad to populate on a webpage.

Launching Your Campaign

After you’ve completed all of the necessary steps, it’s time to launch your campaign! In most cases, this will simply involve clicking a ‘launch’ or ‘publish’ button within your ad exchange or DSP interface. Once you do this, your ad will start serving to users based on the targeting options you’ve selected.

3. Optimize

Now that your campaign is live, it’s important to keep an eye on its performance and make changes as necessary to ensure that it’s achieving your desired results. The process of doing this is known as ‘optimization’, and there are a couple of different ways that you can go about it.

Making Use Of Real-Time Analytics

Most DSPs will provide some form of real-time analytics that will allow you to track the performance of your campaign in near-real time. This is an invaluable tool, as it allows you to quickly identify any issues that may be affecting the performance of your programmatic advertising campaign and take steps to rectify them.

A/B Testing is a method of comparing two versions of something (in this case, two versions of your ad) to see which one performs better. This can be a useful way to test different aspects of your ad, such as the headline, copy, images, etc., and see which combination results in the best performance.

Consider using programmatic to distribute your message if your advertising campaign is targeted at the consideration/awareness stage. You may successfully engage viewers with the aid of increasingly sophisticated programmatic ad types, such as native ads and video ads. Programmatic buying can be a great way to reach your target audiences and achieve your advertising goals. However, it’s important to keep in mind that there’s a lot that goes into planning and executing a successful campaign. Hopefully this guide familiarized you with some of the basics and gave you a better idea of what to expect. Good luck!

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