Programmatic Media Buying - Tips For Your Brand's Growth

“Programmatic” media buying can be defined as the use of software programmes to buy advertising space. The software replicates and automates what, in some media, can be a lengthy manual process. Programmatic buying began in response to an almost infinite supply of digital inventory, the impossibility of a human being sifting through every possible permutation to create an optimum campaign and a massive advance in technology.

The author(s)

  • Andrew Green Audience Measurement, UK
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Programmatically traded media represents less than 4% of total adspend. This is about one-third the size of printed newspaper ad revenues, half the size of radio and 10% of the television total.


On a good day, programmatic technology enables media buyers to save time, increase efficiency and improve effectiveness.


On a bad day, programmatically targeted advertising will be seen by almost nobody, as a result of ad blocking, fraud and viewability issues.


On an average day digital display advertising struggles to be seen, due to heavy clutter and poor positioning. Viewability tends to be lower for ads placed programmatically, as opposed to those placed by a human.


Whatever day it is, programmatic technology will continue to grow strongly and will begin to make its presence felt beyond the digital space – in television, radio, Out of Home, newspapers and magazines. It is being driven by the quest for better efficiency, improved targeting, measurable ROI – and by undoubted pressure to embrace everything new and digital.


It is being challenged by ad blocking, fraud, viewability issues, poor data quality and brand safety concerns, as well as by skills shortages and a reluctance on the part of traditional media companies to release premium inventory into the system.


Many of the challenges inherent in getting an ad seen and acted on in the digital environment can be managed through careful stewarding and use of existing technologies. New kinds of media buyer, more conversant with data science than with wining and dining, will emerge to master the necessary skills.


The measurement challenge lies in linking short-term behavioural responses to longer-term brand building efforts. Not every brand is searched for online and online is not the only place people look to help them make buying decisions.


GRPs (Gross Rating Points) will remain a robust and useful measure of audiences, even amidst the promise of greater precision in targeting ads. Like all media, digital display advertising can really only guarantee ‘opportunities’ to see to its advertisers.


At the end of the day, brands live inside people’s minds. So it is people’s minds we, as market researchers, must seek to understand and to help brands influence.


Find more about Programmatic media buying in the paper.

The author(s)

  • Andrew Green Audience Measurement, UK

Media & Brand Communication