Programmatic advertising - a fashionable term or the future of the advertising market?

You should start right away with the spoiler. Programmatic advertising is simply a fashionable name of a long-known technology. Nevertheless, the future is behind these technologies, and traditional advertising seems to be losing ground. Details in the article.

What is programmatic advertising

The term "programmatic advertising" has come to runet from English. English programmatic ads buying means automatic or algorithmic purchase of advertising. That is, we are talking about buying impressions or targeted actions through automatic platforms, and not directly from the site owners.

Example number 1: when you pay for an advertising post to a community administrator on the VKontakte network, this is not programmatic.

Example number 2: When you launch an advertising campaign in Yandex.Direct or Google Ads, it’s a programmatic or algorithmic purchase of an ad.

A fair question: if algorithmic purchases are well known to everyone, “Direct,” why do you need a hype around a new term “programmatic”?

Answer: Direct and Ads do use algorithmic buying. That is, they formally refer to programmatic buying. But it so happened that the fashion term is called the more advanced algorithmic buying tools. This should be clarified by example.

In early 2018, Yandex announced the gradual transfer of display advertising from the Display service to Direct. The company promised to turn "Direct" into a single window "for programmatic purchases of media and contextual advertising on Yandex and YAN." The transformation of “Direct” into a work programmatic began with beta testing of the “Media Campaign” format.

By and large, media campaigns differ from other types of campaigns in the "Direct" only one sign. Here the user profile view condition is available and enabled by default.

That is, an advertiser can target an audience not by the key phrases that people use in the search, but by demographic and social characteristics, as well as by preferences and interests. Targeting includes gender, age, income, marital status, presence of children, profession and interests.

Advertiser can switch impression condition to "Key phrases". In this case, the audience will be targeted on the themes of the sites.

Yandex.Direct, Google Ads, advertising on VKontakte networks, Facebook, Instagram is also programmatic, since this is an algorithmic purchase. But the term "programmatic" is called the advanced format of programmatic buying. For example, media campaigns in "Direct" with the ability to target impressions by user profiles.

How does programmatic advertising

Programmatic ads buying is a general term that describes various technologies of algorithmic buying advertising. Therefore, it is better to consider the mechanism of work of programmatic ads on specific examples.

The most famous programmatic particular is the RTB auction. This technology is used by Yandex.Direct, Google Ads and other well-known advertising systems.

RTB is not a synonym for programmatic, but one of the types of programmatic. In other words, RTB is always programmatic, as it is an algorithmic auction. But programmatic is not always RTB, as algorithmic ad sales is possible without real-time trading.

The abbreviation RTB stands for Real Time Bidding or real-time bidding. A platform buyer, for example, Yandex.Direct, and a platform seller, for example, the Yandex Advertising Network, participate in the auction.

An end-user data provider may also participate in the auction. This role is often played by the platform seller. For example, the Yandex Advertising Network indirectly delivers information about users when it sends information about sites to Yandex.Direct. And if the advertiser collects data about users using Yandex.Audience, the latter platform acts as a data provider.

The auction goes like this:

  1. The visitor enters the site member of the advertising network.
  2. The network offers to show advertising to the user and transmits data about it to the platform-buyer.
  3. Platform buyer analyzes the data. This may be the subject of the site, demographic and behavioral information about the user.
  4. Based on the analysis, the platform buyer selects advertising that can be shown to a specific person.
  5. With the help of a real-time auction, the ad network selects the ads with the highest bid and shows them to the user.

There is a term "programmatic direct". This is an automated purchase of advertising space from the site owner. This feature is implemented on the DoubleClick Google platform, which, since July 24, 2018, is called the Google Marketing Platform.

Subtotal: in a broad sense, programmatic advertising can be called any automatic or algorithmic advertising purchases. Even bearded platforms like Rotoban fit the definition of programmatic, as there is automation here.

In the narrow sense, the term programmatic refers to advanced advertising technologies with the ability to target an audience by a user profile. Example: Yandex.Direct media campaigns.

How to run an advertising campaign on the model programmatic

To do this, you need to use advertising sites that allow advertisers to automatically buy ads. Most popular are listed below.


Use our step-by-step guide to set up your first ad campaign. If you want to try a true programmatic, pay attention to the media campaigns available in beta. But do not worry, all other Yandex.Direct products also fall under the definition of algorithmic advertising purchases.


This is a platform for managing media advertising in the YAN and Yandex services. "Display" is intended for agencies that manage client advertising. As noted above, Yandex plans to move the display advertising to Direct. But so far there is no talk about closing the “Display”, so the tool can be used for programmatic buying.

Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords)

Use our guide to run an ad campaign on Google Ads.

You have probably heard that from June 24, Google AdWords is called Google Ads. This is not just rebranding. Google is stepping over the usual advertising programmatic and goes to a new level. This is about machine learning technologies that will be available to all advertisers in Google Ads.

The new Google Ads relied on smart campaigns. They can be called an improved version of Google AdWords Express. If in the past, to successfully set up a campaign in Google AdWords, the advertiser needed to gain at least minimal knowledge and understand terminology, now everything changes. The user just needs to specify the goals of the advertising campaign, and everything else will be done by Google Ads robots.

Don't be fooled by headings like 5 reasons why programmatic ads is kicking Google AdWords or "5 reasons why programmatic is cooler than Google AdWords." These are speculations and a game of terms. Google AdWords is just as programmatic as other types of automated ad purchase.

Google Marketing Platform (formerly DoubleClick)

As part of a massive rebranding, Google combines DoubleClick and Google Analytics 360 Suite under a common brand of the Google Marketing Platform. The new platform is designed for agencies and small and medium businesses. With it, you can buy ads and track its effectiveness.

On the new platform will remain the tools for automated advertising purchase and campaign management: Bid Manager (Display & Video 360), DoubleClick Search (Search Ads 360) and Campaign Manager. That is, through the Google Marketing Platform, advertisers can run programmatic ads on search and Google services, as well as on Google Display Network sites.

One of the key innovations of the Google Marketing Platform is a bet on automating routine processes. That is, the new Google advertising tool for small businesses and enterprises can be called the evolution of the programmatic approach.

Social networks

Advertising in popular social networks also works with the use of programmatic approach. We have helpful materials about:

  • Targeting VKontakte.
  • Facebook Targeting
  • Instagram advertising.
  • Advertising in Odnoklassniki.

In social networks, advertisers can target an audience according to various criteria, including interests, behavior, and demographic data.

Alternative programmatic platforms

Runes run platforms that compete with the heavyweights of the automated advertising market. Some of them are briefly presented below.

With Relap, advertisers can buy programmatic ads on sites that use Relap widgets. One of them can be seen under this article. And the advertisement in it looks like this (see illustration).


The service is positioned as a programmatic marketing system. Through the platform, advertisers automatically purchase banner advertisements on sites that are part of their own Soloway advertising network. Targeting is available for similar audiences, segments, classical and dynamic retargeting.


Service RTB-advertising with three available formats: banners, video ads and advertising in mobile applications. The company cooperates with 17 advertising networks, and its audience is 750 million unique devices per month.

To advertise through Auditorius, the advertiser must submit an application and receive an individual calculation of the campaign parameters.


Getintent provides advertisers and agencies with access to the SaaS platform for the automatic purchase of advertising in the Russian and international segments of the Internet. The cost of placement is determined using the RTB auction. According to the information on the site of the platform, it selects the relevant audience for advertising "using artificial intelligence algorithms".

Programmatic is here

The next time you hear the term "programmatic", first of all think about the monsters of the market for the automated purchase of advertising. Google, Yandex, Facebook, VKontakte, Instagram, have everything to remain leaders and drivers of market development for many years programmatic buying.

First of all, these are huge audiences that number in the billions and hundreds of millions of users. Also these are financial resources, advertisers' trust, developed advertising networks. Follow the evolution of advertising services "Yandex" and Google. They clearly put on the further development of automation and improving the accuracy of targeting with the help of algorithms.

If you wish, use alternative platforms to automatically purchase advertising. Perhaps for your business, they will be more effective advertising products from the heavyweights of the programmatic market.

And the last. Do not chase fashionable words. At a minimum, some of the players in the advertising market use the term "programmatic" to separate them from competitors. But this is not enough to become a worthy alternative to Yandex, Google and other monsters.

Watch the video: The New Reality Facing the Advertising and Marketing Industry. Facebook Keynote. London UK, 2018 (April 2020).


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