The Beginner’s Guide to Programmatic Advertising

As with nearly every other aspect of business— automation, predictive learning, and artificial intelligence have drastically changed the advertising landscape. The biggest change? Programmatic advertising.

Defined, programmatic advertising is the use of data-driven software to automate the buying and placement of digital ads, including online desktop display, mobile, video, etc. While traditional advertising purchases involve RFPs, estimates, and face-to-face interaction, programmatic advertising relies on technologies and algorithms to buy online ad space.

  • By 2019, it is projected that around 80 percent of U.S. digital display ad dollars will flow through automated means.
  • U.S. programmatic spending is predicted to grow by more than 20% to $39 billion in 2018.
  • U.S. programmatic display ad spending reached an estimated $32.56 billion in 2017.

Yet, B2B marketers have been slow to adopt programmatic advertising, especially compared to their B2C counterparts. If you’re among the B2B professionals who haven’t adopted programmatic advertising practices, today’s post is for you. Keep reading.

What are the benefits of programmatic advertising?

Marketers have manually managed advertisements since the beginning of time. So, what’s the big deal? Why do companies need to make the switch to programmatic advertising? Here’s our take:

More targeted reach

Another benefit of programmatic advertising is its ability to target audiences at scale. With help from AI components, programmatic processes vast amounts of valuable data points, to more accurately serve relevant messages to the right audience, in the right location, at the right time.


The primary driver for programmatic advertising is its ability to improve marketing efficiency. There’s no way around it, traditional advertising is time and resource-intensive. By automating even some of the process, programmatic effectively saves marketers time, energy and money – all while increasing the chances of success.

Instant optimization

Lastly, programmatic advertising provides a simpler solution to optimizing ad campaigns. Compared to traditional advertising methods, programmatic consistently provides to-the-minute data and insights regarding the performance of a campaign, which a marketer can then use to implement changes in real-time to scale success.

Bigger returns

Efficient, targeted and optimized ads not only result in higher quality leads but can effectively lower cost-per-click. In turn, this delivers a higher ROI. In fact, 55% of B2B marketers believe the biggest advantage of programmatic advertising is how cost-effective it is. Not to mention, nearly 70 percent of marketers reported that programmatic yields a greater return on investment than traditional ad buying (source).

Best practices for programmatic advertising.

Here are a few suggested best practices to consider when developing your programmatic advertising strategy:

Cover all your bases:

If you want ad campaigns to generate results, consider all available channels including display, mobile, video, and social media. It’s also important to make stay on top of evolving industry trends and continuously expand your offers.

Check for integrations

It’s rare for any software to work in a vacuum these days. Make sure whatever software you choose will integrate directly with your sales and marketing technology stack. Must-haves include customer relationship management tools (CRM) and marketing automation platforms.

Segment campaigns:

As discussed above, one of the primary benefits of programmatic is its ability to hyper-target audiences. Segmenting your campaigns will allow you to leverage these capabilities to your greatest advantage, and ensure your audiences receive the most relevant messages.

Personalize creatives:

When it comes to your creative components, be sure to avoid a generic, one-size-fits-all design. Instead, take the time to craft custom designs that not only resonate with your intended audience but align with other campaign components— from the ad copy to your lead generation landing pages.

Prioritize Mobile:

Approximately 80% of programmatic ad spend was put towards mobile formats in 2017 according to an eMarketer report. This number is expected to rise to 85.2% within the next year or so (source). If you skip out on mobile advertising, you’ll miss out on a huge portion of qualified buyers.

Test, analyze, and optimize for success:

Just because programmatic advertising requires less manual input, doesn’t mean it can run on its own. We recommend that you always have human oversight monitoring for mistakes or errors. Look at these hiccups along your programmatic journey as the chance to deepen your advertising expertise. If your team remains vigilant about watching campaign performance, you can catch downward trends before they become costly mistakes.

Invest in quality assurance:

Invest in quality providers for programmatic campaigns to automatically check advertisements based on context, quality, and visibility. Many digital security experts can identify bots and block suspicious ads before they are traded.

Some Final Thoughts

There’s a reason why industry experts have continued to herald programmatic advertising as the wave of both the present and future of advertising. In fact, programmatic advertising has helped unlock great potential in recent years. And while the world of advertising has never been more complex, for those marketers who are willing to put in the work, dramatically better campaign ROI awaits around the corner.

About the Author: Lisa C. Dunn writes for As a freelance writer, copywriter and ghostwriter, she develops high-quality content for businesses and non-profit organizations. For over 20 years, she has worked with numerous PR and digital marketing agencies, and her work has been featured in well-known publications including Forbes, VentureBeat, Mashable, Huffington Post, Wired, B2C, USA Today, among others.