Getting Started with Programmatic Advertising

In 2023, global programmatic ad spend reached an estimated 558 billion U.S. dollars, with spending set to surpass 770 billion by 2028. Programmatic advertising has made significant contributions to the global economy, particularly within the advertising and marketing industries. Its impact spans various economic aspects, from enhancing business operations to influencing employment and innovation. This blog introduces programmatic advertising to publishers, exploring its benefits, how it works, and why it’s becoming indispensable in the digital advertising landscape.

What is Programmatic Advertising?

Programmatic advertising is the automated buying and selling of online advertising. This approach uses software and technologies to purchase display space, bypassing traditional methods such as requests for proposals, tenders, quotes, and human negotiation. By leveraging algorithms and real-time bidding (RTB), programmatic advertising allows ads to be bought and displayed automatically based on predefined criteria.

Key Glossary

Here’s a key glossary of terms related to programmatic advertising that publishers should be familiar with to understand and effectively navigate this space:

Supply-Side Platform (SSP)

A technology platform used by digital publishers to manage, sell, and optimize available inventory (ad space) in an automated and efficient way. SSPs are designed to maximize the prices their inventory fetches by connecting publishers with a wide range of potential buyers.

Demand-Side Platform (DSP)

A system that allows buyers of digital advertising inventory to manage multiple ad exchange and data exchange accounts through one interface. DSPs are used by advertisers to buy ad impressions from exchanges as efficiently and cheaply as possible.

Real-Time Bidding (RTB)

A means by which advertising inventory is bought and sold on a per-impression basis, via programmatic instantaneous auction, similar to financial markets. This is done in the time it takes a webpage to load.

Ad Exchange

A digital marketplace that enables advertisers and publishers to buy and sell advertising space, often through real-time auctions. They are most often used to sell display, video, and mobile ads.

Ad Inventory

The total amount of space a publisher has available for advertisements at any given time.

Data Management Platform (DMP)

A unified technology platform used for collecting, organizing, and activating large sets of data from disparate sources. DMPs analyze raw data to create user segments, which are then used to target specific users in online advertising campaigns.

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

A metric that measures the number of clicks advertisers receive on their ads per number of impressions. This ratio is used to gauge the effectiveness of an online advertising campaign.

Ad Fatigue

A phenomenon that occurs when the audience becomes overly familiar with an ad, leading to decreased engagement, poorer campaign performance, and lower click-through rates.


The process of segmenting audiences based on known or inferred data, such as demographics, behavior, psychographics, or location, to find the right audience for advertising campaigns.

Floor Price

The minimum price a publisher is willing to accept for its ad inventory from an ad exchange. Setting a floor price ensures that the inventory will not be sold for less than it is worth.

Ad Impression

A single instance of a digital advertisement being displayed. Impressions are used to measure the number of views or engagements that an ad receives.

How Programmatic Advertising Works

  1. Ad Inventory Available: Publishers make their digital ad inventory available through platforms called Supply-Side Platforms (SSPs).
  2. Demand-Side Platforms (DSPs): Advertisers use DSPs to decide which ads to buy and how much to pay, based on the audience’s attributes they target.
  3. Real-Time Bidding: This happens in real-time, with advertisers bidding for ad space in milliseconds as a webpage loads.
  4. Ad Placement: The highest bidding ad is placed on the publisher’s site, all in the time it takes for the page to programmatic advertising works

Benefits of Programmatic Advertising for Publishers

First of all, programmatic technology maximizes the value of ad inventory by ensuring that it is sold at the best possible price through real-time bidding, often resulting in higher revenues compared to traditional advertising methods. The automation of buying and selling ads also reduces the need for manual sales efforts and negotiations. This not only cuts down on staffing costs but also speeds up the process, allowing publishers to sell more ads more quickly.

With access to rich data analytics, publishers can offer advertisers more precise targeting options. This enhances the value of the ad space as advertisers are willing to pay more to reach their ideal audience effectively. Moreover, programmatic advertising ensures that more of the publisher’s ad inventory is used effectively, reducing unsold spaces and increasing overall earnings.

Finally, publishers have significant control over which ads appear on their sites, including setting minimum prices and choosing or rejecting certain advertisers. This control helps maintain the quality and relevance of ads shown to the audience.


Header Auction and Waterfall Auction Techniques

Header bidding, also known as advance bidding or pre-bidding, is an advanced programmatic technique wherein publishers offer their ad inventory to several ad exchanges simultaneously before making calls to their ad servers. This is typically done through JavaScript code in the website’s header, hence the name. The idea is to let multiple demand sources bid on the inventory at the same time, which can increase the ad revenue by driving up the competition among advertisers.

The waterfall method, a traditional sequential ad bidding process, has long been the standard in digital advertising. In contrast to header bidding, it operates on a tiered system where ad requests are sent to advertisers or networks in a predetermined sequence based on the publisher’s preferences or historical performance data. If the first advertiser in the sequence does not buy the ad slot, the request cascades down to the next advertiser until the slot is filled or all options are exhausted.

Managed Service vs. Self Service

There are two primary models of programmatic advertising that businesses can choose from: managed service and self-service

Managed Service

Managed service for header bidding involves outsourcing the setup, management, and optimization of a publisher’s header bidding technology to a specialized third-party provider. This model is typically chosen by publishers who prefer expert handling of their ad operations to maximize efficiency and revenue without the need for deep technical expertise in-house.

Self Service

Self-service header bidding allows publishers to directly manage their header bidding setup using platforms that provide them with the tools and interfaces needed to run their ad operations in-house.

The choice between managed and self-service models often depends on several factors, including:

  • Technical Expertise: Publishers with a strong technical team may opt for self-service to leverage their in-house skills, whereas those without might benefit from the expertise offered by a managed service.
  • Resource Availability: The decision may also depend on the publisher’s resource availability — both in terms of personnel and finances.
  • Strategic Focus: Publishers focusing heavily on monetization might prefer a managed service to maximize revenue without diverting focus from their primary business, whereas those with a strategic emphasis on control and data transparency might choose self-service.

How Does Programmatic Advertising Targeting Work?

Contextual Targeting

Contextual targeting involves placing ads based on the content of a web page rather than on the characteristics of the user viewing the page. It aligns ads with relevant site content, ensuring that the ads displayed are pertinent to what the user is currently interested in.

Behavioral Targeting

Behavioral targeting focuses on the behaviors of users across websites over time to predict their interests and intentions. This approach uses data collected about an individual’s browsing behavior, such as the pages they visit, the products they look at, the links they click, and the searches they perform.

Pricing Models in Programmatic Advertising

CPM (Cost Per Mille)

CPM, or Cost Per Mille (thousand in Latin), charges advertisers based on every thousand impressions an ad receives. This model is primarily focused on visibility and exposure.

CPC (Cost Per Click)

CPC stands for Cost Per Click, which charges advertisers only when their ad is clicked by a user. This model ties cost directly to the level of engagement an ad receives.

CPA (Cost Per Acquisition)

CPA, or Cost Per Acquisition, also known as Cost Per Action, charges advertisers only when a specific action is completed, such as a sale, a signup, or another conversion.

CPL (Cost Per Lead)

CPL stands for Cost Per Lead, charging advertisers for each lead generated through their ad. A lead can be defined as a user who provides contact information or shows interest in the product in a way that potentially leads to a sale.

You can check this blog to see all the common pricing models in today programmatic advertising ecosystems.

Best Practices for Implementing Programmatic Advertising

Choose the Right Technology Partners

Select reliable and reputable SSPs and programmatic platforms that align with your needs and can provide robust data insights and user support.

Understand Your Audience

Leverage data analytics to understand your audience deeply. This information will not only enhance your site’s content strategy but also allow you to offer more targeted and thus valuable ad spaces to advertisers.

Prioritize User Experience

While programmatic ads can increase revenue, be mindful of the user experience. Avoid overwhelming your audience with ads, which can lead to ad fatigue and reduced engagement.

Stay Informed and Up-to-Date

The world of programmatic advertising is constantly evolving. Stay informed about the latest trends, technologies, and best practices to continue optimizing your strategies.

Monitor and Optimize

Continuously monitor the performance of your programmatic ads. Use insights from data to optimize your approach, such as adjusting floor prices or experimenting with different ad formats.

PubPower Header Bidding

Ready to maximize your ad revenue and take control of your ad inventory? Discover the advantages of PubPower’s header bidding technology. With our 30+ SSPs, 1000 advertisers and advanced platform, we ensures that you get the highest bid for each ad impression, enhancing your earnings and streamlining your ad operations.

Start with PubPower Header Bidding today and experience the future of programmatic advertising. Join the revolution and see why top publishers trust PubPower to boost their bottom line.

Social Media Marketing, Publisher Manager at PubPower.

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