Programmatic Advertising
Glossary of terms

What Is Programmatic Advertising?

Programmatic advertising, also called programmatic marketing, is the use of software tools to automatically purchase digital ads. A display advertising strategy, programmatic advertising relies on computers and algorithms to buy ad placements based on data. This is done in lieu of manual bidding and negotiating between human ad buyers and publishers.

Real-time bidding, or RTB, is one of the major forms of programmatic advertising. RTB entails real-time auctions in which ad impressions are bought and sold in fractions of a second. In this type of programmatic advertising, impressions are bought and delivered as they are being loaded. For example, when someone visits a webpage that includes paid advertising space, that space is bought and sold—often based on data about that specific visitor—as the page loads.

Why Programmatic Advertising?

Programmatic advertising is widely seen as a more efficient approach to display marketing. It enables advertisers to extend their reach while managing costs and other forms of operational overhead. Instead of eliminating the need for people, it redirects marketing talent into optimizing campaigns in granular fashion. This is possible when marketers are no longer bogged down by the drudgery of negotiating (and renegotiating) ad placements with individual publishers on a repetitive basis. Programmatic advertising can enable much more highly targeted, data-driven campaigns than what is possible when the process is managed entirely by humans.

Glossary of terms

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