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How programmatic guaranteed will unlock the true potential of digital advertising

March 22, 2017 | 6 min read

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Over the past decade, programmatic technology has brought unprecedented efficiency to digital media buying. From a single platform, marketers can deliver a message to precise audiences across platforms and devices, all while collecting omnichannel data insights that allow them to run smarter campaigns over time. But despite these benefits, the truth is that European marketers are still spending billions a year through non-programmatic strategies-- and that’s just on display media. In order to realise the full potential of their digital media dollar, advertisers are designing plans to move these billions into programmatic channels.

The Trade Desk

How programmatic guaranteed will unlock the true potential of digital advertising

This transition doesn’t necessarily require marketers to do things all that differently from the insertion orders they’re used to executing. By utilising programmatic guaranteed strategies, and the various inventory and access points of these deals, advertisers and publishers can take advantage of the best parts of automated buying without sacrificing the control and assurance that comes with the I/O. Just as today’s investors can log on to a stock trading account to execute calls, shorts and standard buys, so too will marketers be able to execute campaigns of varying complexity from a single programmatic platform. In essence, it’s the perfect bridge between the inefficiency of the manual buying process of the past and a future in which digital budgets are devoted entirely to channels that capitalise on the programmatic promise.

Why programmatic guaranteed offers the best of both worlds.

In its current form, a programmatic guaranteed deal resembles an insertion order in that it requires a marketer to call a publisher, strike a deal and set up the terms of the deal in their respective platforms. However, with PG, the execution takes place through programmatic channels, where a sell-side platform (SSP) passes a Deal ID to the demand-side platform (DSP) asking for a bid at a certain price. Just as in a direct deal, the publisher enjoys high fill rates, while the marketer receives a guaranteed number of impressions at a set price.

But what makes the programmatic guaranteed deal special is that it allows marketers to monitor their campaigns from a single platform alongside the rest of their programmatic efforts -- across publishers, channels and devices. As such, brands and agencies can more precisely identify the right media mix by using data analytics to observe how each campaign influences the rest of their marketing strategy. For instance, a programmatic guaranteed deal allows marketers to answer questions like “How does my guaranteed campaign affect the performance of my open-auction buying?” and “How do my guaranteed display campaigns influence what I’m doing in video or TV or audio?” Without all of these activities consolidated onto a single platform, these insights are much harder to come by.

Where programmatic guaranteed is taking us next.

What’s so exciting about programmatic guaranteed is that it is only the first step toward even more effective programmatic strategies. Once marketers are doing all, or most, of their media buying from one place, they can begin building out more intelligent, more integrated campaigns with smarter audience targeting. And once they’ve gotten their feet wet carrying out branding activities through programmatic guaranteed deals, many will continue to innovate and begin experimenting with more complex tactics like audience guarantees. Audience guarantees allow advertisers to forecast and deliver a guarantee across a single (or group of) publishers, using their first party audience data and leveraging the precision and targeting of a DSP. These perks of programmatic guaranteed extend even further when advertisers start utilizing the forward/futures markets on their campaigns.

As an example of what the future might look like, a marketer could decide on a strategy that forecasts and then activates a specific audience across multiple channels, devices and formats. The advertiser enters into a contract to buy that audience across a predefined set of publishers that align well with their target. Next, advertisers can take this media contract and select the dates for future campaign delivery, all in advance.

2017: The year of programmatic guaranteed.

Given the incredible automation and efficiency benefits that lay on the horizon, we expect to see a dramatic shift towards programmatically executed publisher contracts over the next six to eight months. Though programmatic guaranteed technology is still in its infancy, marketers will soon enjoy the very real progress that comes with having the holistic data sets they need to more precisely target the right inventory. Meanwhile, as a general principal of mature marketplaces, publishers will start to see their programmatic ad rates rise as media buyers hone in on the impressions that are reaching and engaging their preferred audience.

For now, media buyers and publishers alike must continue to partner, build, and/or acquire the infrastructure necessary to help brands transition their digital buying to a single programmatic platform. This shift towards programmatic guaranteed offers advertisers increased efficiency, precision, insight and control, allowing for even more effective and compelling campaigns.

By Sacha Berlik, Managing Director EMEA, The Trade Desk.

Digital Transformation Digital Advertising World

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The Trade Desk

The Trade Desk™ is a global technology company that empowers buyers of advertising. Through its self-service, cloud-based platform, ad buyers can create, manage, and optimise more expressive data-driven digital advertising campaigns across ad formats, including display, video, audio, native and, social, on a multitude of devices, such as computers, mobile devices, and connected TV. Integrations with major data, inventory, and publisher partners ensure maximum reach and decisioning capabilities, and enterprise APIs enable custom development on top of the platform. Headquartered in Ventura, CA, The Trade Desk has offices across North America, Europe, and Asia. To learn more, visit or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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