If you have ever seen a display ad or streaming tv ad then you most likely experienced programmatic advertising. Programmatic has always been a very opaque part of the marketing world. Marketing agencies have kept a tight lid on the knowledge surrounding programmatic because it hasn’t always and still is not a very easy process to build and launch media.

What is programmatic advertising?

Programmatic advertising is biddable media purchased through a self service buying platform called a Demand Side Platform (DSP).

This includes all of social and include YouTube but operationally just depends on both the delivery of the media and where it is purchased. In most cases, programmatic ads will be closely tired to a demand side platform.

Programmatic is such an important field for marketers understand because of the significant role programmatic plays in digital marketing today. On display advertising alone, media spend by the end of 2022 will be close to $123 billion dollars in ad spend.

Why do we use programmatic advertising?

  • Complete modularity of data, ad inventory, and ad creative formats
  • Greater transparency through highly connected buying and analytics systems (More on this topic with offline attribution)
  • All run by advertisers, rather than third parties seeking to maximize margins
  • Flexibility and efficiency via RTB (Real Time Bidding) systems and an open marketplace

When do we use programmatic?

Marketers should use programmatic media buying whenever possible to increase incremental value for the overall media plan. In most cases, marketers are restricted by media plans that only spend towards paid search and social. Programmatic allows brands to further diversify their media budget against broader audiences and business goals.

Introduction To Inventory

Inventory Access

  • Auctions and Open Exchanges (Amazon DSP)
  • The most commonly used to ensure brand safety and guardrails
  • RTB Auctions provide maximum efficiency
  • Private Marketplace (PMPs) / Private Auction
  • Mainly used for accessing specialized inventory / creative but with an optimizable and dynamic CPM
  • Provides incremental reach outside of RTB auctions through non-guaranteed delivery
  • Programmatic Guaranteed
  • Provides a Fixed CPM cost structure – assures pricing, not an auction
  • Guaranteed delivery through direct digital IO (insertion order)
hierarchy of programmatic advertising inventory

Audience Opportunities For Programmatic

Have you heard of the recent changes to third party cookies across Google and Facebook? Changes in privacy law means advertisers who traditionally relied on pixel data to support their advertising campaign performance will need to look elsewhere for more efficient and accurate audience segmentation. Programmatic provides unparalleled audience segments.

  • 3rd Party Audiences
  • Set up purchase or interest based campaigns with audiences segments from data partners such as Oracle, Acxiom, Experian, Polk, etc.
  • Platform Native (2nd Party)
  • Platform-based audiences built off a list of identifiable users (Facebook, Google, OwnerIQ etc)
  • Lookalike & Custom
  • Based on 1st party data – Power your seed data to create lookalike audiences based on engagement
  • 1st Party
  • Owned by the brand (CRM), create audiences for re-targeting or exclusion based on past purchase history
programmatic audience activation

The Expansive World of Creative Options For Programmatic Ads

Display Advertising

  • Ad Types Include: Display, Dynamic Display, and Native
  • Display: Static, Dynamic, Animated, Rich Media
  • Ad Sizes: 160×600, 300×250, 300×600, 728×90, 320×50
  • Native
  • Buy Types: CPM, CPC, CPA (Mostly purchased by CPM)
  • Expectations on performance – Display Advertising Best Practices


  • Amazon OTT vs Youtube vs. Online Video (OLV)
  • Placement: Pre-Roll, Mid-Roll, Post-Roll
  • Skippable vs. non-skippable
  • Buy Types: CPM, CPV, CPCV
  • Ad Ops: Different operational set up from display ads
  • Cross Device Website Attribution (Measuring Video Views to website traffic)

Streaming Audio (Delivered Self Serve on Amazon DSP)

  • Deliver 15-30 seconds non-skippable streaming audio on Amazon Alexa devices
  • Placement across ad supported apps such as Amazon Music, Spotify, iHeartRadio
  • Ability to match offline attribution to streaming audio users
  • Purchased solely as CPM

Top Programmatic Demand Side Platforms 2022

Agencies have many options to consider when evaluating which demand side platform (DSP) to utilize for their client’s programmatic campaigns. Given the operational complexity and different options for audience segmentation most agencies across the country tend to lean into one or two DSPs that fit their overall client portfolio and marketing needs.

There is no one size fits all when it comes to DSPs. Amazon’s DSP provides significant advantages to early first-mover DSPs such as Google’s Display & Video 360 and Adobe.

Top demand side platforms 2022

Amazon’s DSP provides extreme advantages when measuring display, streaming tv, and audio full funnel (Ability to measure hard conversions such as offline sales and leads). Since Amazon owns their delivery device such as FireTV and Amazon Alexa, the user ID graph (overall user data connected to an amazon account) is more clearly measurable. This enables advertisers to match back sales attribution on Amazon Ads.

Which DSP Should You Choose?

Every DSP has its pros and cons. For agency owners and brands looking to learn more about their options, we recommend evaluate multiple introduction calls with specialists and ad tech providers who support the market-leading DSPs. That way, you have the knowledge and education needed to make the right investment both in ad spend AND operationally for your business.