Programmatic Advertising

An Introduction To Programmatic Advertising

Programmatic is a targeting strategy (just as traditional is a strategy that may also be used). Programmatic is the automated buying and selling of online advertisements in real-time to your targeted audience, getting your brand in front of the right people, at the right time, in the right place, for the right cost. Programmatic advertising is usually more affordable than traditional methods, and most importantly, targets a hyper-SPECIFIC audience.

In this blog, we will cover three things:
1. The Details of Programmatic Advertising
2. Delivery Methods
3. Audience and Targeting

What is Programmatic Advertising?

Think of it as a stock exchange…you’re getting your business in front of consumers, in real-time, through a network of publishers by bidding on that space. Programmatic advertising is comprised of targeted digital ads (such as display ads, social ads, in-app ads, pre-roll video, connected TV and radio) on a variety of channels.

As compared to traditional methods that blanket a wide audience (where many consumers may not be “in-market”), programmatic marketing offers the ability to show a specific ad to a specific consumer in a specific context.

Essentially, programmatic eliminates wasted ad spend and gets you in front of the people you want to be in front of.

Programmatic Advertising Delivery Methods

The most efficient part about programmatic advertising is that all the ads utilize the same standard format for the creative asset across all publishers on the web. This allows for consistent delivery and ease of placement for your ads. (Imagine how annoying it would be to have to resize your ads every single time you wanted to publish it on a site.)

This consistency, then, sets a creative standard for everyone to follow. Delivery methods include but are not limited to:

  • Display
  • Native
  • Social
  • Email
  • Pre & Post Roll Video
  • In-Stream Video
  • Connected Radio

Display – Usually when people hear the words “digital ad” they imagine display ads or banners. While display ads ARE a form of digital advertising, display is only one of many available channel options. Display ads and banners are the most common option.

Native – Another common type of ad in programmatic, native ads include an image and copy. They are designed to appear “native” to the page’s content that they appear on (meaning that it’s NOT supposed to look like a paid advertisement). If you look closely, you notice small words such as; “ad”, “sponsored”, “promoted content”, ect. However, to a user scrolling through stories, blogs, or other articles, it’s going to appear like just as another piece of content. These ads are meant to blend in.

Social – With the rise of social media, social ads are quite common. They appear as social media users scroll through their feed and can appear on a variety of different formats. (For example, Facebook offers carousel ads, standard images, videos and even interactive lead form ads.) Users can see similar formats across social media platforms; Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. Like native ads, they are denoted by small print – “sponsored” or “promoted content.”

OTT/CTV & Connected Radio – OTT stands for Over The Top and CTV stands for Connected Television, and these are the ads that you’ll see on your favorite streaming platforms (Hulu, Pandora, NFL network, etc). Ads can be interactive ads and funnel the users’ interests to increase targeting efficiency. For example, if the user likes cars, what kind are the SPECIFICALLY interested in (trucks, sedans, coupes… make, model, year)? With this information in hand, ads can be tailored to invoke a response from the user. In comparison to traditional TV commercials, OTT/CTV is much more precise in targeting behaviors and interests.

Programmatic Advertising Audience & Targeting

Once you’ve decided what channel you prefer to use (because there are options!), it’s time to consider your audience. There are a couple of ways to target and gather information:


Geofencing – A pretty common tool nowadays, geofencing establishes a perimeter around an area (whether by radius from a central point or an outlined boundary). This allows you to localize ads and specify your target audience in certain categories. For example, you can geofence all the car dealerships in a county and create an ad campaign that targets their visitors for a specified amount of time…even forever.

Event Fencing – Events like concerts, shows and fairs usually bring with them a certain demographic that can be fleshed out into a standard persona for simple targeting. These are usually shorter ad campaigns since they’re based off an event that will conclude at some point.

Addressable – This is a more general style of targeting due to its ability to include either a particular address, a set of addresses, an entire city or even a state.


Retargeting includes all of the details that provide advertisers with customer insight (but, it’s also all of the information that consumers fear is being misused).

Keyword Contextual – Similar to a search through a database, you retarget your ad based on the keywords that the user is searching. This is not limited to a broad web search through a search engine such as Google or Yahoo but can be any search through any website with a search feature. It’s important to note that this is NOT as instantaneous as Google ads would be. And, while it’s an effective targeting option, the actual ads don’t target until AFTER the initial search. Whether that be 5 min or 5 hours after, the ads won’t appear to the consumer for some time.

Category Contextual – Every website is categorized according to the vertical it relates to across the internet. So you can categorize your website and promote it among websites of the same category. For example, if you have a health foods site, you’ll appear for people who have used sites in that same category.

Website / Cart – The most common type of retargeting, website/cart retargeting ONLY retargets visitors to your website. You can also retarget based on their geographic location or based upon certain pages they visited on your site. Also, if you’re an e-commerce site, you can specify your parameters based on the items in their cart. This can be effective in that if someone came to your website and put an item into the cart (but then decided against checking out), you can target them with ads for that specific still lingering in their cart.

Behavioral – Essentially, behavioral is a combination of all the prior methods. It utilizes demographics and psychographics to retarget based on the consumer’s digital profile. Everybody has one based on what they like, what they do, where they live, content they consume, locations visited, purchases made, voting preference and more. Behavioral targeting disrupts the necessity for casting a wide net as the profiles provide specificity. From this, you can pinpoint which personas will interact with, or even purchase your product.

Intrigued? Contact iSynergy and schedule a consultation so we can get started your programmatic advertising rolling!