Advertising at the Speed of Thought

Benefits of Programmatic Advertising

By the end of 2021, programmatic advertising will account for 88% of all digital display marketing in the United States. Programmatic advertising is a type of digital marketing that allows advertisers to purchase ads at scale, using automated processes, in real-time.

Programmatic advertising helps brands reach audiences across all stages of the marketing funnel. It combines data and technology to deliver more relevant, targeted messages at scale, than traditional media such as print or TV ads. Read on to learn more about how it works and why you should be leveraging it.

How Does Programmatic Advertising Work?

Programmatic advertising is an automated method of negotiating, optimised with machine learning and AI. The objective is to improve efficiency and transparency for both the advertiser and the publisher by utilizing real-time auctions that purchase ad inventory as a user visits a website.

At the dawn of digital marketing, ad space was bought and sold in a format similar to print ads. For example, Geoff from HyperGlobalMegaAds would reach agreements with Bertha at Whizzo Butter to place a banner on a recipe website for everyone to see, whether they wanted Whizzo Butter or not.

Developments in user tracking with cookies and IP detection meant that over time, the deployment of banners took on more customisation for the users visiting a particular site. Finally, this branched out further and users tracked across multiple sites and apps could be served ads personal to them in specific ways that went far beyond just their IP address, which was also a bit creepy. Soon cookies will be gone.

As personalised ad targeting has become more sophisticated, the emergence of real-time bidding has allowed marketers to place the ad they have in front of a very specific audience with which they want to connect.

The Advantage of Real-time Bidding

It’s 6:34 am in Honduras. Someone just visited a distribution website. This is an advertising opportunity. After all, this is a website that sells your products. This is a user you want to target.

Within the first 100 milliseconds of this user being on that website, the request for an ad has been sent to a data exchange, along with information about the user, which is then matched against all the advertisers that have some interest in this user and an auction commences. Maybe you win the auction, maybe you don’t, depending on budget and other criteria. If you didn’t win, there will be better matches that you will win.

Real-time bidding is a more finessed system than the old ways. It serves relevant content to users and lets marketers maximise their, or their clients’, budgets. To say that this type of buying is real-time is almost a misnomer because how can you comprehend it in real-time when it happens in less time than it takes to think about it. It’s about as far from evergreen content as you can get.

Open vs. Invited Programmatic Advertising Options

Real-time bidding is a part of the system, in most systems the fundamental one, but there are other programmatic methods. There are essentially two components to programmatic advertising: demand side platforms and supply side platforms. Programmatic advertising is what goes on between these two platforms.

  • Real-time bidding (RTB)

This is the most common way, but it’s a free-for-all, an open room where anyone can throw down some currency (crypto or fiat) and buy some exposure. When you don’t know who’s in the real-time bidding room, it’s more difficult to forecast your chances of winning a bid.

  • Private Exchange Buying (PEB)

Another method is Private Exchange Buying), which is where you can get your messages in front of a select audience by pre-agreeing to spend with publishers and their preferred partners. An auction still takes place, but the opportunity is more beneficial, terms are pre-negotiated and you can occupy more of a niche without having to compete bitterly or expensively. The PEB option allows marketers to control the conversation, but it’s still not 100% safe from competitors seeing your messages or users opting out of receiving ads.

Fractions of Seconds

Whether you use RTB or PEB, you can connect with your audience through programmatic advertising. But that’s only the first step. You can get in front of them in 100 milliseconds but what you show them matters too. The right image, the right banner layout and the right copy are key. You may be able to get in front of a prospect almost instantly, but you can lose them in the same time span too.

The creative team at Mulberry MC understand that when it comes to digital advertising, every sliver of a second matters. Every image has to work. Every word has to hook the buyer’s attention. After all, you’re competing with the page your user actually came to see. How can you get them to spend a fraction of attention on your ad and messaging instead?

If you want to find out how we can support your digital advertising efforts, as well as your traditional marketing and PR efforts, get in touch.


Mike McConnell is a Creative Director at Mulberry Marketing Communications. An award-winning full-service B2B communications agency based in London, Chicago and Melbourne. He has years of experience creating and editing written work alongside developing ideas for a diverse range of clients across multiple formats. The last auction he won was on eBay for a backlit transparent refurbished Gameboy Pocket.