A Beginner’s Guide to Programmatic Display Advertising Tips

The Beginner's guide to programmatic advertising

Over the past few decades, the way in which companies approach their advertising campaigns has changed dramatically.

Gone are the days when advertisements were mostly displayed in newspapers, magazines, on television or on radio: modern advertising makes use of digital channels to get your company’s message across to your target audience.

This is known as programmatic display advertising and we have written a useful guide on everything you need to know about this concept.

Let’s take a look!

1.What is programmatic display advertising?

While PPC campaigns (pay-per-click campaigns) are great ways to market your brand, sometimes you need more of a boost and something that will take your brand from zero to hero. This is where programmatic display advertising comes in.

So, what is programmatic display advertising? This is a very common question and, although the term may seem quite complicated, it is actually quite simple to understand.

In a nutshell, programmatic display allows you to advertise digitally using a range of technologies. These advertisements are aimed at your target audience and are placed on digital platforms where it is believed your target market is most likely to be visiting.

Programmatic display advertising is therefore an important tool that a branding agency or digital marketing agency will use for brand development.

Programmatic display advertising is highly effective because an intelligent analysis is carried out beforehand. This involves analyzing the demographics (including age, sex, personal interests, income, etc) of your target audience so that you can have maximum impact. 

2.Why your brand needs programmatic advertising

If you have found that traditional advertising methods are simply not cutting it and you are not seeing results, you would definitely benefit from programmatic advertising.

Speak to any digital marketing agency, and they will tell you that programmatic display advertising can reach a far wider audience than traditional methods and can be more cost-effective, as well.

Programmatic buying is everywhere

3.Important terminologies

Programmatic display advertising involves a number of important technologies, including the following: 

  • Demand-Side Platform (DSP): Advertisers use specific software to purchase advertisements on an automatic basis. 
  • First-Party-Data: This is first-hand information that originates from the publisher or the original source. 
  • Real-Time Bidding (RTB): This is a method of purchasing or selling advertising space on a digital platform via a bidding process. 
  • Data Management Platform (DMP): An intelligent software medium holding key data around customers (ie. general demographics, age sex, income and other important information). 
  • Supply Side Platform (SSP): Publishers use an advanced technology to sell digital advertising space online and automatically. 
  • Ad Exchange: A digital platform on which publishers or advertisers can purchase or sell advertising space.

4.Types of programmatic display advertising

Generally speaking, there are two main kinds of programmatic display advertising: programmatic direct and programmatic real-time bidding (RTB). 

Programmatic direct involves purchasing digital advertising space without having to go through the bidding process. This means that your ad is guaranteed to be displayed whenever a certain webpage is loaded. 

It is perfect if you have specific advertising goals in mind, such as wanting your advertisement to run for a certain period and have a pre-determined number of impressions. 

Programmatic real-time bidding (RTB) works in much the same way as AdWords functions in that it automatically calculates the bidding in a real-time scenario. 

5.How programmatic display advertising works

When it comes to programmatic display advertising, there are a number of steps that are involved. 

The first step includes a publisher who will create advertising space on their digital platform. This is done via SSP, which is then connected to the ad exchange. 

Next, an advertiser will indicate certain parameters: 

  • their target audience
  • the budget for the advertising campaign, and
  • any other details that are relevant 

At this point, they can connect their DSP to an ad exchange and get things up and running. 

Once the ad has been published, each time a website user visits the site, the information will be sent to the ad exchange to determine if their details match the advertiser’s preferred target audience. If so, an auction will begin for the RTB and the ad will be viewed if the advertiser is using programmatic direct.

Finally, advertising space will be awarded to the advertiser who has bid the highest amount and the advertisement will then be served.

As you can see, this is quite similar to using a PPC campaign. However, a key difference is that all functions are carried out programmatically with the use of artificial intelligence.

This is a highly effective way of improving your brand development as it is far superior to the traditional method of online advertising and requires practically no manual input at all. 

Programmatic direct

6.How to get started with your first programmatic advertising campaign

If you are interested in starting your own programmatic advertising campaign, we recommend following the below steps: 

  • Determine your advertising goals (why are you embarking on this campaign and what do you wish to achieve?)
  • Select your DSP (this will give you access to advertising platforms, the ability to place ads and will let you set your bids)
  • Decide on the specifics of your campaign (for instance, RTB campaigns are generally more cost-effective than programming direct)
  • Optimize your variables (these include adjusting bids, ad format, split testing, frequency of advertisements, etc)
  • Choose your advertising partner (this should be someone you feel has a good reputation and who has a solid track record of helping other companies achieve good results)
  • Measure your ad’s progress (the success of your ad should take into account your KPIs and other metrics)


With the programmatic display advertising industry growing and evolving as each year passes, it is easy to see how it can benefit your brand. With an almost endless target audience and the ability to reach customers throughout the world, programmatic display advertising should definitely be on your radar. 

We recommend taking into account the above suggestions for kick starting your advertising campaign if you want to see optimal results. 

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