Latest innovation in programmatic

The online display advertising space is changing rapidly, especially around the exploding growth of programmatic advertising which can be hard to keep up with.

The online display advertising space is changing rapidly, especially around the exploding growth of programmatic advertising which can be hard to keep up with.

By the end of 2017, it’s predicted that programmatic advertising will account for more than three-quarters of all UK digital display ad spending, demonstrating how brands are increasingly investing in and committing to programmatic advertising as a staple of their online marketing strategies.

If you work within the marketing industry you’ll probably have heard the term used a lot but may not completely understand what it means. So, before we look at the latest developments in the programmatic space, here is a brief crash course to help you get up to speed.

What is programmatic display advertising?

It’s automated buying and selling of digital advertising through computer-driven ad exchanges and related databases and management platforms.

It uses real-time technology to deliver the most relevant messages for advertisers to maximise response from targeted consumers who are served display ads.

Why does programmatic matter?

In the past, media planners and buyers had to spend hours manually trawling through lots of data to identify audiences who we hoped would be the right fit – it was time intensive and low in accuracy.

But nowadays, the proliferation of programmatic has completely reshaped the display landscape and the way we plan and buy media.

Rather than targeting the masses, the volume of data we’re able to analyse and optimise on allows us to seek out the most relevant, in-market potential customers.

Programmatic in 2017

So now you’re up to speed, it’s time to look at some of the biggest developments in programmatic taking place right now. Ad technology is constantly evolving which means the words used to describe this tech are too, so there are always new terms to learn and here are three to add to your list.

Header bidding

This technique takes programmatic up a level and claims to offer a better deal for brands and publishers alike. The premise is that it allows publishers to offer ad inventory to more than one ad exchange at a time, and only then does it all an ad server.

To make things simpler to understand we can compare it to traditional programmatic, which works like an auction but with only one buyer and one seller. Header bidding allows all buyers to get a bid at the same time.

So why is it important? For publishers, it means they are able to sell their ad inventory in a way that ensures they get the best price. And for advertisers they have access to what could be considered “premium” inventory that is usually only available through entering a direct deal with a publisher.

Programmatic Guaranteed

Programmatic guaranteed is a new model that allows a programmatic buyer to device ID or cookie match an audience with a publisher and pre-agree to buy at a fixed price. It makes use of the real-time buying (RTB) mechanism to bring speed and efficiency, while guaranteeing inventory on the buy side and revenue on the sell side.

The big benefit of programmatic guaranteed is how precise it is. As it syncs the buyer’s audience with publisher inventory it allows for targeting an impression level and allows for increased control over execution. It combines RTB efficiency, audience targeting, and secure trading in a way that has previously never been possible.

Although it is said to not yet be fully developed due to constantly evolving programmatic landscape, it does aim to tackle both buyer and publisher frustrations with private marketplaces. Private marketplaces are good on paper, but they don’t always guarantee that the ad buyer can get enough volume of impressions or even the exact target audience they want. Programmatic guaranteed aims to help close this gap.


Ad fraud has been a hot topic surrounding programmatic this year and with the industry calling for a clean-up, one initiative led by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Tech Lab may just have the solution. Ads.txt, the solution with the not to catchy name, is text file that will let publishers clearly list who is and is not authorised to sell their ad inventory, by inserting a piece of code to their websites.

If this initiative is adopted throughout the industry the practice of domain spoofing (when buyers believe they are buying ad space from a reputable website, when in reality they are buying from a completely unrelated and disreputable website) will become much harder to carry out.

This works similarly to how brands can whitelist certain publishers where their ads can run, except in this case publishers are designating certain ad exchanges and ad tech companies decide which it's safe to buy inventory from. However, unlike whitelists Ads.txt goes further and can tell if a site is masquerading as a trusted publisher.

So, what does this mean for the industry? Well, the promise of a more trusted marketplace could woo back buyers who have recently pulled spend over concerns about fraud and brand safety.