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When Programmatic is Enigmatic: An Introduction to Digital Platforms (Part 1)

Published: December 3, 2013

Author: Molly Shotwell

If you’re coming from search, the concept of platform-based buying isn’t unheard of.  It’s the rapid coining of new terms like “programmatic” that dizzy you, along with vague definitions that create an apprehension to the unknown and the illusion of losing control.
Luckily, the most basic building block – auction-based buying – isn’t so new to you. The challenge usually arises where as a marketer you’re forced to sit back, relax (multitask, rather) and allow for educated, automated decisioning to make your adventure into display a bit smoother.
Sure, platforms to provide qualified targeting, transparency, efficiency and real-time optimization at the push of a button sound too good to be true. But I assure you, they’re real – and you don’t even have to learn a new acronym. You’ll get all the 3-letter buzzwords you need in one place.
In this three-part blog series, we will take a closer look at how programmatic has evolved. The first part of the series will focus on the basics of how the media is purchased, and why this this is important for the cost efficiency of any digital marketing program.
Buy & Sell
RTB: How it works for Display, Mobile and Video
In short, programmatic buying really starts with real-time biding – selling and buying online display ads in real-time, one ad impression at a time.
At its inception, RTB demonstrated the continual evolution and sophistication in the digital space to make marketers more effective and customers more receptive to their messages. RTB mimics stock exchanges, utilizing computer algorithms to automatically buy and sell ads. The buying takes place over online media exchanges – media marketplaces – which connect sellers (publishers) and buyers (advertisers).
The speed and accuracy of the real-time bidding model provides a massive opportunity to advertisers who may not have been able to spend their advertising budgets effectively with traditional display buying.
Before RTB, digital advertisers were still operating in the same basic way as print advertisers. That is, they were buying up advertising real estate based on the audience a given publisher was expected to bring in.  However, RTB has helped move the focus from the whole audience to the individual. This programmatic approach increases knowledge of consumers and how best to address them.
In other words, RTB has helped to move advertising out of the realm of educated guesses and into the land of programmatic science.
Our next blog post in this series will compare programmatic buying to traditional display. Finally, stay tuned for the third blog post where we will highlight different methods and use cases that help to make this concept more digestible as you wander further into a platform-centric world.

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