Programmatic Advertising for Publishers

Programmatic Advertising. In terms of digital marketing it’s the buzz word of 2016. All the cool kids are talking about it, it’s the in-thing and everyone’s doing it!


You mean you’re not doing it?


You don’t even really know what it is!?!?!?

DON’T PANIC!!! – this is not high school, and it’s ok to not have a clue about programmatic. To be honest, even a lot of the people doing it couldn’t really tell you what it is. What’s crazy is you’ll probably already be doing programmatic advertising and not even realise it!

So let’s start by breaking it down. In its basic form, the term “programmatic advertising” just refers to using software to buy digital advertising in real time as opposed to the manual insertion orders and human negotiations of traditional advertising. Simply put, it’s using machines to buy ads.

What this means is most forms of digital advertising are programmatic! Google Search is programmatic, display is programmatic and Facebook ads (yes you guessed it) are also programmatic.

So why all the confusion?

Where the confusion seems to lie is that a lot of publishers are running AdWords search campaigns, social ads and some remarketing display activity on the GDN but see programmatic as this next great display mountain that they need to conquer.

This is where DoubleClick comes in. DoubleClick is a subsidiary of Google and provides ad serving technology. From a display point of view, it pulls in all of the display targeting methods that the GDN uses but then takes them further.

Programmatic display through DBM can be really powerful and it is worth exploring, but only if you’re already utilising the GDN in a big way. DBM is essentially the GDN on steroids. Both serve display ads and both can use audience targeting to remarket to existing users but also to reach new groups of users who share certain interests, have visited certain sites and live in certain locations etc.

So what’s the difference?

Really there are 2 main difference between the 2; firstly, DBM can pull in lists of 3rd party data to layer on top of your regular targeting. This could be things such as 3rd party lists of users defined as “working in education” or “health care professionals” etc. Secondly, through DBM you have access to a wider network of ad exchanges and websites to advertise on, meaning there is more ad inventory available.

However, although both of those things are great, if you are not already utilising the GDN you are definitely going to want to start there and not step straight up to DBM. This is because the GDN has access to the majority of the same targeting methods as DBM (topics, affinity categories, similar audiences etc.), also utilises remarketing audience data and has a massive inventory to take advantage of.

So can this work for publishing?

Whether using the GDN or DBM the thing to remember with any programmatic display advertising is that it’s great for getting your brand out there, generating a lot of visibility and creating brand awareness.

What it’s not necessarily great for is direct sales of subscriptions. If your sticking to remarketing or highly layered and targeted display activity with low impression volumes you can see strong direct results, but when you start branching out to high impression volume prospecting campaigns it’s not going to get those direct results.

What this means is, if you’re looking for a direct response of sales or leads then stick to the GDN with strict targeting. If you’re looking for high impression volumes and brand awareness also start with the GDN but with broader targeting and move into DBM when you are at a level where the additional elements are needed.

And if you’re still confused about the whole thing give us a bell and we can help you get more out of display activity.