What Is Programmatic Advertising?

Programmatic advertising is an efficient, data-driven way of buying highly relevant audiences at scale. It is the quickest way to purchase ad inventory online and get your ad live.

Traditionally, advertisers have had to spend time going directly to publishers, with a limited amount of inventory available per month. Poor targeting capabilities and a lack of campaign-level frequency have often created a trap for wasted ad spend.

Programmatic advertising allows brands to strike the perfect balance of shoppers seeing and being compelled by an ad without feeling overwhelmed.

What Can Be Purchased With Programmatic?

Programmatic offers an array of effective ad types to reach your target audience.

Cross-Device Display Units

The three main cross-device ad types for Programmatic are standard banner ads, native banner ads, and rich media banners.

    1. Standard banner ads: Appear on the top or sides of web pages and are available in many different sizes; the fundamental cross-device display ad type.
    2. Native banner ads: Appear as “recommended” or “sponsored” content and match the look and feel of the rest of the media on a page.
    3. Rich media banners: Appear as an interactive, highly visual animation such as a pushdown, expandable, or carousel unit and invite the user to engage with your ad.


Programmatic video ad spend is projected to approach $75 billion in 2021 – a 31.3% YoY increase. Programmatic provides the opportunity to ensure your video ad dollars are going to good use by putting your ads in front of the right audiences.

The four main types of video ads for Programmatic are pre-roll, super pre-roll, native, and over-the-top (OTT).

    1. Pre-roll: The most basic video ad type that consumers feel highly familiar and comfortable with; plays before the video user selects to watch.
    2. Super pre-roll: Includes interactive components like rollover widgets, social icons, quizzes, polling, etc.; plays before the video user selects to watch.
    3. Native: Takes on the look and feel of the environment in which it’s served; plays within sponsored content.
    4. Over-the-top: Runs through a smart TV, gaming console, or other device like Amazon Fire Stick, Roku, or Apple TV; plays within the program user selects to watch.

Streaming Audio

Consumers’ time spent with digital audio increased 8.3% in 2020. In 2022, it will have increased 27% over 2019! Programmatic gives brands highly customizable advertising opportunities through major digital audio streaming platforms like Pandora, Spotify, and more.

Programmatic advertising allows businesses to purchase 15-30 second audio spots, run banner ads, and capitalize on other advertising options to serve personalized ads to listeners. Due to the personalization and breadth of users on streaming audio services, brands are able to target an audience that is highly likely to be interested in the product or service.

Brands can even serve ads with exactly the right messaging for the moment based on the time of day and other anonymized consumer data.

OOH (Out of Home)

Programmatic digital out-of-home (OOH) advertising allows brands to advertise on digital billboards and other outdoor displays in a highly visual and creative way. Unlike most digital ads, OOH displays can’t be blocked or skipped, so the ad is always visible to consumers in a specified area – especially if the branding and visual elements are all in place.

This channel can be perceived as more traditional, but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. Digital OOH ad spend for Programmatic is expected to reach $530 million in 2022 after being at just $90 million in 2019.

While less audience-specific targeting is available for out-of-home options like digital billboards, other data such as time of day, weather conditions, and location are enough to drive a relevant experience for consumers who see your ad.

Tying It All Together

With its data-driven approach, Programmatic takes less time to implement, scales faster, and drives better targeting than many manual advertising methods. It helps ensure that your ad dollars are only spent on relevant audiences who are highly likely to be interested in your brand.

Are you interested in seeing how Programmatic could be a boon for your business? Send us a message and one of our Programmatic experts will reach out to share answers, insights, and opportunities to put your brand on the path to profitable growth.