Long before there were programmatic ads, advertisers and publishers had to buy and sell ad space manually. Then came the first ad networks in the 90s, which allowed advertisers to buy ad space in bulk online. That was the earliest version of programmatic ads. Since then, things have only become better and more advanced.

With sophisticated platforms facilitating the buying and selling of programmatic ads, digital marketing agencies can run multiple campaigns simultaneously. They don’t have to dedicate manpower just to get their ads in publishing spaces. The birth of programmatic ads has essentially automated the entire process, making it more efficient for everyone involved.

A Brief Look Into the Process That Made It All Possible: What is Programmatic Media?

Also known as programmatic advertising, programmatic media is the process of buying and selling ad spaces through an automated system that rewards the highest bidder with programmatic ads. Unlike the traditional — and highly inefficient — method, which involved having to call publishers individually, you don’t have to talk to anyone to make a programmatic ad purchase. You just need access to an online platform with a wide network of publishers, like MGID, that mediates the selling of online ad spots. For a more comprehensive view of programmatic ads and advertising, we’ve covered everything that you need to know here. But if you want to stick around, this discussion here will also touch on strategy formulation.

What Are the Different Types of Programmatic Advertising?

The automation of ad buying wasn’t the only development in programmatic advertising. The ways by which you can initiate a purchase of programmatic ads have also changed. If you’re engaged in various types of campaigns, this is great news! With the flexibility of programmatic ad buying, you’ll be able to adjust your budget to best serve the purposes of your campaign. This also helps improve your ROI as the majority of your spend will most likely be allocated to conversion-focused marketing. Below, we have discussed the different types of programmatic deal types, their pros and cons and their most suitable usage.

Real-Time Bidding (RTB)

Pros Cons
Simple and automated process Potential fake clicks and impressions
Only pay for impressions
No manual negotiations

If you want to place programmatic ads this way, here’s the process:

  1. A publisher makes it known that there’s an ad slot to fill.
  2. The ad exchange collects information on the publisher’s audience and the platform itself.
  3. Advertisers place their bids based on the information relayed by the exchange.
  4. The winning bid gets their programmatic ads displayed on the publisher’s platform.

All of this happens practically instantly! This mode of buying ads is great for brand awareness campaigns since the price that you’re paying for your programmatic ads is based on CPM or cost per thousand impressions.

Private Marketplace (PMP)

Pros Cons
Access top-shelf ad inventory Higher ad costs
Lower competition for ad space
Custom agreements may be available

We’ve seen people ask about the difference between CPM vs PMP, but they’re actually not related at all. CPM is a metric, while Private Marketplace is a mode of programmatic advertising that is available by invitation. The process for buying space for programmatic ads here can be the same as RTB, but you’ll have a private ID to enter the exclusive ad exchange.

As you’ll learn a little bit later. There are key differences between PMP vs programmatic guaranteed (PG) deals. But this one particularly is a good option if you want to be associated with high-level publishers.

Preferred Deals

Pros Cons
Gives you first dibs on ad space Higher cost
Predictability of costs
Quick buying process

Programmatic ads can also be purchased through preferred deals. The beauty here is that you will have the chance to receive ad space before the deal is made public. Also known as programmatic non-guaranteed, you have the option of rejecting placing your programmatic ads in the offered space. Should you decline, the space will be sold through RTB.

Whether having the first right of refusal is a good option depends on your level of interest as well as your budget. However, we recommend going through preferred deals for conversion-centric programmatic ads since you’ll need to earn more to break even.

Programmatic Guaranteed

Pros Cons
Guaranteed inventory and price Less campaign flexibility
Opportunities to grow a relationship with the publisher
Lower risk of ad fraud

Before anything, let us answer this one common question: what’s the difference between programmatic guaranteed advertising vs direct buying advertising? With the latter, everything’s done manually. When you see programmatic in particular, know that it refers to negotiating a guaranteed outcome in the form of CPM, which you pay for at a fixed rate.

We recommend securing a programmatic guaranteed deal if you think that the publisher’s audience is a great match for your brand or product.

The Different Formats for Programmatic Ads

Which format do you think will work well for your campaign? You don’t need to compromise just to get ad placement at lightning speed. No matter what niche you’re in, you can trust that programmatic ads will be readily available in multiple formats. Since you use the internet, you most likely have encountered every programmatic advertising example possible. So, why not focus the discussion on when to use these various formats? Skyrocket your odds of success in every campaign by using the most appropriate ad format.

Display Ads

Have you noticed ads at various places on the screen? Those may be examples of programmatic ad displays. Ad spaces for this type of format are normally sold over display ad networks, but they can still be available through programmatic counterparts. With these programmatic ads, you may find more value if you use them for brand awareness. The most common type of display ad is the banner ad, but you don’t want your campaign to fall victim to banner blindness! If you want to test programmatic display ads out for campaigns where the leads are closer to a sale, it’s your call. Perhaps an awesome ad has the power to turn things around.

Video Ads

Video programmatic ads are highly engaging because it takes less work for the reader to absorb the content. This format can usually be displayed in the same places you’d find ads with text and images. So, video programmatic ads should be able to convert or gather impressions (whichever the goal of the campaign may be) where their text and image counterparts do.

Do you want to incorporate video advertising into your strategy? A great programmatic ads example could be to place ads on a video platform or on a social media feed that has video support. That way, your video advertising won’t feel too out of place. Your audience will be more likely to pay attention to your programmatic ads since watching videos is what they came for.

Native Ads

Speaking of not wanting to feel out of place, native ads are created to blend in, reinforcing a seamless browsing experience for the audience. By using native programmatic ads, you’ll be able to:

  • Add value to the browsing intent of your audience;
  • Grab their attention and build a rapport with them;
  • Have a higher chance of meeting your KPIs.

Even though they’re everywhere, native programmatic ads are less likely to be overlooked than other formats. They have the power to not be seen as ads, so users are more likely to engage with them. If you haven’t yet, using this programmatic ads format can generate great results for you.

Voice Ads

Voice ads are the newest ad format out there. What makes them so innovative is how programmatic ads can now be used to:

  • Reach the target audience even when they’re not on the phone;
  • Engage users through active listening;
  • Generate a voice response from the user to take some form of action.

Granted, the usability of voice programmatic ads is relatively limited. However, they can still be useful for brand awareness and simple purchases like buying a subscription or a product.

Three Main Examples of Programmatic Advertising Channels

You have the ad. Now what? Your next step is to determine the channels most complementary to the format that you have chosen. And when should you be concerned about learning the basics to programmatic ad channels? Around the same time you realize that comparing programmatic direct vs programmatic guaranteed advertising makes as much sense as comparing horse carriages to cars. Having at least a rudimentary understanding of all parts and nuances of the buying process ensures that even if the most popular programmatic ad platforms change, you won’t be lost. Thankfully, it looks like things are going to continue on the status quo for now. And we guarantee that you’re already familiar with the main advertising channels.


A website will always be one of the best options if you want to run programmatic ads because of their flexibility. Depending on the publisher, you have various options for ad placement and, therefore, multiple ways of catching a user’s attention. The beauty of having programmatic ads here is that most formats are accepted. Whether you want a simple text and image display ad or a full-on video, there will always be available ad space. Plus, you can select websites with a similar audience to your own to get better results.

Social Media

While each social media platform supports multiple ad formats, they still have their own specific functions and audience. Therefore, it’s important to understand their differences before buying programmatic ads. So, when should you use which platform?

  • Facebook: All-around platform; Good for practically any audience
  • Instagram: Great for increasing brand engagement through visual storytelling
  • LinkedIn: For B2B advertising or when you have professionals in your target market
  • Snapchat: Suitable for targeting younger demographics; Good for using interactive ads
  • TikTok: Fast-growing platform; Good for short videos and viral content

With this information, you can buy programmatic ad spaces accordingly.

In-App Mobile

Advertising on mobile is a good option because most people have a smartphone. And because of the more intimate nature of interacting with a handheld device, your programmatic ads may yield better outcomes. All the discussed ad formats are also supported. So, if you have already created one for desktop, you can just optimize it for mobile. To set up conversion-focused ads, you should know that 58% of cross-device purchases in 2020 were completed on mobile. So, consider spending more resources on mobile programmatic ads if your goal is to drive the audience into making a purchase. You’ll also love that these ads are cheaper than their desktop counterparts.

A Look Into Programmatic Buying Costs: What Factors Affect How Much You Should Expect to Spend?

It’s hard to talk in absolutes when discussing your potential ad spending budget because it can vary wildly by industry. There will also be inevitable differences based on the size of the company. Here are a few things that you may want to consider when you come up with a figure to spend on your programmatic ads:

  • How many ad spaces you want to buy;
  • How competitive the market is for programmatic ads spaces;
  • How long you want to run the campaign.

When money matters, consider how it will help you with both the short-term and long-term objectives of your company. Look at what other similar sized companies in your field are spending. This should give you a ballpark figure.

An Example of Programmatic Advertising Buying Process: A Step-by-Step Guide

At this point, you already understand the various types of programmatic advertising, the ad formats and advertising channels that you can use. The factors that can affect the cost of programmatic ads have also been discussed. Now, it’s time to get your digital wallets out and be ready to go ad shopping! Just as there are various ways to get programmatic ads, the ad buying process will differ as well. So, we’ll walk through the general steps involved in addition to what you should remember and accomplish.

Step #1: Create Your Ad

There’s no point in buying space for programmatic ad space for content you haven’t created yet. That’s why, before you head to any ad exchange platform, make sure that your ad is ready for the internet. To be able to create compelling programmatic ads, you should:

  • Set your campaign objectives;
  • Decide the format, placement and platform that you’re going to use;
  • Determine the target market for the ad.

When creating programmatic digital advertising material, make sure that it’s completely aligned with the company branding. This prevents confusion on the user’s part while also strengthening brand identity.

Step #2: Set Your Parameters and Budget

Regardless of the method by which you plan to acquire programmatic ads, it’s important to set a budget that’s realistic and justifiable based on the objectives that have been set. Before you settle on the number, set your parameters. This includes:

  • How long you’re running the campaign;
  • Characteristics of the targeted group;
  • Location of the people in your market.

Once you’ve set the parameters, determine your programmatic ads budget. Considering these factors should help in understanding what you can allocate for your campaign budget.

Step #3: Buy and Place the Programmatic Ad

The good thing here is: you actually don’t have to do anything! If you win the bidding, your ad will automatically be placed in the designated ad space. Then, just watch the money come in. Or, if it’s a branding campaign, see your target market show a little bit of love! Depending on the method that you have chosen for buying programmatic ad space, you may not have to bid at all. You’ll just have to accept the offer or come to an agreement with the publisher. Then, ta-da! Your ad will be published.

Programmatic Media Buying Strategies for an Impactful Campaign

Congratulations! You’re almost at the end of the road to becoming an effective programmatic advertiser. Now, you know that there are many ways by which you can buy programmatic ads. The next step will be determining which strategies will yield optimal results. If you’re an aspiring marketer who’s only just heard of programmatic ads, you can apply most of the knowledge gained from this article right away. And if you’re a true-blue expert, revisiting these strategies should help keep your programmatic ads campaign right on the mark.

Familiarize Yourself with the Different Types of Programmatic Advertising

Just a quick recap: what’s the difference between programmatic guaranteed advertising vs direct buying advertising?

Programmatic guaranteed advertising automates the purchase of pre-negotiated ad space using data-driven platforms, ensuring reserved inventory and efficient targeting.

Direct buying involves manual negotiations directly with publishers, offering more control and flexibility over ad placements but often being more time-consuming.

Having a high level of familiarity with those is important because it determines two things:

  • How you’ll allocate your programmatic ads budget since some types are pricier than others;
  • How accessible the ad space is to you because your competition can be literally everyone else interested or no one at all.

Programmatic ads offer some level of flexibility, so to better mitigate risks while taking advantage of the potential ROI, you should assess your options.

Choose the Right Ad Formats and Channels

It’s not enough to know the difference (or lack thereof) between programmatic direct vs programmatic guaranteed advertising. This form of advertising can be seen and heard practically everywhere, so it’s safe to say that the competition is tight. You can improve your odds of success by selecting the right channels and formats for programmatic ads so your message will be easily received by the right audience. Here are a few things to remember when finding the perfect programmatic match:

  • The same content and programmatic ad format are a match made in heaven;
  • Visual media helps create associations with your brand;
  • Different channels have different engagement potential and targeting capabilities.

Most importantly, which programmatic ads have your target market responded to the most? This should be a major influence on your selection process.

Diversify Your Budget

For the sake of simplicity, let’s assume that your programmatic ads budget can be allocated to either branding or marketing. Which should you choose? Just like any investor would tell you, putting all your eggs in just one programmatic ads basket is bad news waiting to happen. Of course, this logic extends everywhere else in the process where a decision has to be made. This includes testing out multiple platforms and programmatic ad formats to see what will resonate with your audience the most. The important thing is to make sure that you’re managing potential losses in case the campaign doesn’t go the way you want it to.

Look at Programmatic Advertising Examples

As they say, why mess with success? Keeping your eyes peeled for successful campaigns ensures that if your competition does something well, you can replicate and further improve on it. Doing so also helps you to:

  • Analyze elements of the latest successful campaigns;
  • Draw inspiration for when you create programmatic ads;
  • Compare their performance with yours.

Examples are everywhere! Just go online and browse to see what users are responding to. If you’re looking for programmatic ads from a particular brand, they’re available on Facebook through the ad library. You’ll even see where they’re running!

Programmatic Ads: The Internet’s Best Gift to Publishers and Advertisers Everywhere

We understand how much work it takes to place just one ad online. So whether you prefer programmatic guaranteed (PG) vs PMP programmatic advertising, know that you’ll still benefit from having an online platform that eliminates unnecessary steps in the buying process. At MGID, we serve programmatic ads to our global network of advertisers. No matter what market you serve, we’ll help you find the most suitable publishers to help you get the most out of your ad spending. Have you identified programmatic marketing examples that you want to emulate? Sign up on MGID to access advanced tools, and you will have a team of creatives and a personal manager to support you.