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What is programmatic advertising?



Marissa Bernstein

If you work in the digital advertising space, you have likely heard the term programmatic. However, if you’re new to this type of media buying, you probably have questions about how it works and why you should use it. This article will answer your most pressing programmatic questions, and provide some information on what this type of transaction actually does. 

Also new to digital out-of-home (DOOH)? Learn more via our ultimate guide to DOOH.

Programmatic advertising explained

What is programmatic advertising? At its core, it's a way of using technology to buy and manage advertising spots. There are many different ways to buy programmatically and several different pieces of technology that make up the programmatic ecosystem. The common thread here is transactions are conducted through automation, rather than through a series of manual steps. 

Core features of programmatic buying 

      • Programmatic buying is often executed via an auction-based marketplace or exchange. 
      • Publishers provide available inventory, discoverable at the individual impression or spot level. 
      • Buyers can evaluate and bid on inventory in real time, based on business rules such as audience criteria and price. 

Benefits of programmatic advertising for marketers


Aggregate supply 

Programmatic technology provides you with a single access point for all inventory, which serves as a centralized place to purchase different types of ad placements. This type of transaction usually provides additional transparency into budgeting and campaign performance metrics.


Efficient workflow 

With programmatic ad buying, you won’t need to manage multiple contracts and insertion orders. Instead, all media planning and buying can be done through a single platform, which allows even the smallest teams to handle large, complex campaigns by being more dynamic and efficient with how they spend their time.


Data-informed purchasing

Programmatic platforms use data to inform buying decisions for every single ad placement at the impression or spot level. Whether using audience segments, weather triggers or other data to guide a campaign, marketers can make more efficient buys and ultimately eliminate wasted campaign spend. 


Aggregate measurement

With programmatic buying, you can apply overarching measurement techniques to understand the impact of your DOOH campaigns across all inventory types. Instead of measuring each publisher on an individualized basis, you can evaluate your campaigns more holistically, and optimize spending based on your learnings.


Benefits of programmatic advertising for media owners


Discoverable inventory to more buyers

Through digital advertising platforms, like Vistar’s supply-side-platform (SSP), your digital signage network becomes discoverable to media buyers on the other side of the transaction. You can control which inventory you want to make available, to which buyers, and how much you want to charge for it.


Fully monetized digital signage network

Programmatic technology enables you to maximize yield across your digital signage network by monetizing all available inventory through an additional sales channel that requires little direct effort.


Curated premium inventory

By taking advantage of programmatic ad buying, you are able to segment target audiences more effectively and justify increased advertiser spend, by leveraging data to identify inventory that aligns with audiences.


New revenue streams

Ultimately, when digital signage is programmatically available, you open up an entirely new revenue stream while still maintaining control of content and pricing. Your screens are now bringing in revenue from not just OOH buyers and loop-based media, but digital and omnichannel DSPs too.


Programmatic DOOH explained 

Through programmatic ad buying, you - as a marketer - can set parameters around what goals you are trying to achieve and identify any specific audiences you may want to reach. From there, you’ll upload your creative assets, set your budget, and let the technology use data-informed decisioning to do the work for you. If you are trying to reach frequent travelers for example, your ads may appear on billboards along major highways, gas stations, airports, and transit locations.

As a media owner, if your inventory meets the requirements set by the marketer your network will be targeted for the campaign. Since you're in complete control of what runs on your screen, you must review the creative and either approve or deny it. If approved, you will obtain new revenue from that campaign.


Getting started with programmatic DOOH media 

While all of this may sound appealing, it can sometimes be overwhelming to get started. Luckily, many of the creative materials you use for other types of advertising can be easily applied to the programmatic DOOH landscape as well.

The team at Vistar Media has a wealth of experience and can walk you through everything you need to know to start buying programmatically. Contact us today for a free strategy session. 


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