Programmatic Advertising In Simple Terms

Programmatic Advertising In Simple Terms

I’m going to attempt to sum up programmatic advertising in a way that isn’t meant to confuse you into spending money with our agency. We want your campaigns with us to be successful, and programmatic advertising strategies are not always the answer. The technology and targeting options that are available by using a programmatic platform are actually REALLY COOL and it can take a while to weed through all the BS out there and understand the true benefits to this ad strategy.

What is Programmatic Advertising?

Programmatic is a term that isn’t limited to advertising. It simply means: “a process that is aided by a set of rules or a structure, to automate a task.” In the context of advertising, “programmatic” refers to bidding on ad inventory by using an automated process; computer software.

Programmatic Tech

To a certain extent, in 2021 most advertising platforms utilize some form of automated bidding process. When an opportunity for an ad placement arises, an ad platform (such as Google Ads) will nearly instantaneously choose an ad to display based on its advertisers targeting, and budget. Since this technology is utilized so extensively, the term “programmatic” has morphed to mean “automated bidding across multiple ad networks or websites.” That’s a pretty basic definition. I’ll try to complicate it as little as possible as I go on…

REACH the whole internet?

Internet Share

Google Ads can reach 90% of the internet. That’s pretty huge, but if you want to place your ad on a specific network or website AS WELL AS Google’s network using one unified campaign, using a programmatic platform is a good option. 

The best way to utilize programmatic advertising is through the use of a DSP which stands for “Demand Side Platform.” Essentially a DSP is software that allows an advertiser to utilize automated bidding at scale all while tying the ad buying and serving together in one place. These bids happen in 100 milliseconds. Blinking takes 3 times that amount of time.

Running a campaign on Google’s display network and ALSO running an ad on facebook or a native ad on Oath’s network is NOT a programmatic campaign since these platforms aren’t sharing targeting data, budget, or reporting (even if your agency adds the campaign results together in the same report). 


In our opinion, targeting is the biggest advantage to a programmatic ad campaign.

Programmatic platforms combine:


First Party Data

Your data; usually website analytics. Includes "zero-party" data too (which is a stupid term).

DV Logo

Second Party Data

Data from the programmatic platform provider.

Data Partners

Third Party Data

Externally sourced networks and databases that your programmatic platform has sourced. Rubicon Project, Adobe, and BlueKai are some examples.

The ability to access all of these data sources in one unified campaign allows us as advertisers to hone-in our targeting to a level that isn’t possible with most ad platforms. We’re able to create customer profiles utilizing audience targeting that contains IF, AND, & OR logic to really nail down that “motorcycle riding doctor that is in-market for a pink Cadillac (or whatever other)” type of client that you’re going after. 

We build these customer profiles by importing your first-party data into the programmatic platform. With that, we can match your ideal customer, based on YOUR data, with second and third-party data to find more customers that mirror what has worked for you in the past. And since we don’t want to completely give in to our robot overlords yet, we also build customer profiles based on what we know will work for your industry and the direction that you want your company to go.

Expanded Creative Options

Creative Options

50-80% of advertising ROI is driven by the story you tell or the action you inspire with your creative. Programmatic ad campaigns have expanded creative options from most networks due to the higher amount of placement opportunities they have. 

Through our programmatic platform (dv360) we can even set up sets of creative that trigger based on a user’s past interactions with your ads or site. 

What About Programmatic Video & Audio

Everything above applies here too. Programmatic Video is a great tool to reach connected TVs and 68% of TVs households that are cable subscribers only. By using a programmatic platform for your TV commercials, you’re not longer “spraying and praying” to hit your target audience. Show your ad to the audience it’s relevant to.

tv percentages

Programmatic audio gets your audio ad (and companion display creative) to users who are listening to music via platforms like Pandora, and Spotify. All the benefits of a radio ad with the targeting and tracking benefits of digital ads!

How Can I Run a Programmatic Campaign

Find an agency that has access to a programmatic platform and pay their fees; or find a programmatic platform and sign up to run campaigns yourself and pay their fees. We pay a fee to utilize the dv360 platform and those fees are covered in our fee structure.

How to Find a Programmatic Ad Agency

Google it. Then click the first ad. Just kidding. That’s the second-most lazy approach. The first being “contacting Golden Goose” since you’re already here…

Now that you’ve Googled and discovered that it’s harder NOT to find a programmatic agency, than it is to find one; here are some questions to ask them (I’ll answer for Golden Goose as we go to save you time later):


Questions to Ask a Programmatic Ad Agency

If their answer is “our own,” that’s a red flag. It’s pretty common practice for a company to say they’re running a programmatic campaign and just run vanilla Google Ads. If they truly have built a programmatic platform, ask to see it. There are a lot of upstanding agencies out there but, this is advertising; there are a lot of used car and RV salesmen out there just wanting to take your money.

Golden Goose’s Answer:  

We use Google’s DV360. Programmatic Display Ads run through this platform get precedence over regular Google Display Ads which is a huge advantage over the layman’s version of the ad platform that covers 90% of the internet. No “home-grown” platform will beat that. Google is a dominating presence and we figure it’s better to work with them, than it is to reinvent the wheel.

If the company says “it’s covered in your budget, it doesn’t matter as long as you see results!” – that’s a red flag. If they say “we get paid by kickbacks from the ad networks we run on so our service is free to you!” – that’s a bigger red flag. Advertisers DO get kickbacks in the form of budget credits to specific accounts, but they can’t simply cash that money out to pay themselves. Most ad networks, including Google, require their advertisers to be up-front about their fees or they can be banned from their platform.

Golden Goose’s Answer:

We use a straight up, “percentage-based” fee structure that starts at 30% of your ad budget and goes as low as 10% of your ad budget. We’re right at, or slightly under the industry averages for ad management. If we get any ad credits or kickbacks from our ad campaigns, they go to you.

If the answer is anything besides “yes,” they’re probably hiding something. 

Golden Goose’s Answer:

We’re happy to show you your well-running accounts at any time. We’re proud of our work and have nothing to hide.

Programmatic platforms allow for a huge variety of creative types. Ask your potential ad agency if they can run an expandable ad. If the answer is “no,” they’re probably just running Google Ads. 

Golden Goose’s Answer:

If it exists on the internet, we can run it, and run it well.

A lot of agencies will outsource their ad campaign management and run all their communications through an account manager. Some other agencies don’t want their employees blabbing about what ad platforms they’re really running on. Either way, if the answer to this questions is “no” be wary.

Golden Goose’s Answer:

We’re a small company. We don’t have huge aspirations to get bigger than our skills can support. You’ll be dealing with US while your campaigns are running, and WE will also be running your campaigns.

If the answer is “no” or “not always” or “it’s complicated” run away. You should always independently verify your return on ad spend (ROAS) or leads generated from your ad campaign. Many companies will “fudge the numbers” and make a quick buck until the client realizes their results or profits are not matching what the agency is claiming. 

Golden Goose’s Answer:

Of course your data will match. Sometimes there’s a delay of a day or two for third party data providers to send their ad data, but other than that, your web traffic data will match your ad report. We track conversions using Google’s tracking tags and your data will always match up. We use TAG and iAB to verify ad traffic and eliminate bad traffic. 

If your agency replies with “an ad click,” you’re not getting good data. To truly optimize your ad performance, conversions need to be tied to a trackable conversion element on your website, then linked to your ad campaign so that data can be used to auto-optimize ad performance. PROPER conversion tracking is crucial to calculating true ROAS and determining the success of your campaign.


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