Why Media Buying Plays A Crucial Role In Programmatic Advertising?

Programmatic media buying is one of the advanced marketing strategies with high ROI (Return On Investment).

Ad industry offers massive opportunities for professionals to reach their marketing goals.

What if, you put all your efforts and didn’t get any conversions.

Don’t worry! You might not have implemented the programmatic media buying in your marketing strategies.

It comes with enormous benefits to media buyers. It helps to reach the right audience at the right time with a granular level of customisation.

To illustrate, marketers/media buyers who followed programmatic techniques saw an average improvement of 32% in CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) returns. (Source: adboomadvertising.com)

Let’s discuss programmatic media buying in detail.


What is media buying?

Media buying is the act of purchasing inventory (Ad space) or audience from a publisher to place Ads.

The publisher can be any media company such as a television station, newspaper, blog, magazine or website.

Ad space, for example, includes all display, social, video, mobile, audio, and advanced TV.

Media buying involves selecting the right media to-

  • Display Ad
  • Analyse the competition
  • Choose the target audience
  • Negotiation for placement of the ads and the price
  • And select right time and region to advertise.

What is Programmatic Buying?

Programmatic buying is the technique of automatically buying Ad space or audience through digital technology platforms for example-

  • Ad exchanges
  • Ad network
  • Agency trading desks
  • DSP’s (Demand-Side Platform)
  • RTB (Real-Time Bidding)
  • Programmatic direct

Previously, the media buyers used to follow the process which involves RFPs, manual insertion orders, negotiations and buying.

Consequently, programmatic buying relieves the headache of Ad space buyers. It automated the entire process of buying and selling the Ad space.

Programmatic buying makes use of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithm to-

  • Analyse data
  • Learn from it 
  • And make decisions accordingly.

It helps the marketers to get the detailed report of their campaign success, such as-

  • ROI (Return On Investment)
  • User engagement
  • Which age group people respond most
  • Specific day and time for engagement.

It makes easy to select the right audience, time and place to buy Ad space.

Generally, people confused with the terms programmatic buying and RTB. To explain, Programmatic buying is a method to analyse if the marketers want to purchase the ad space. And, RTB is the most used form of programmatic buying in the market.

Hope,  you’re now evident with the terms media buying and programmatic buying. Let’s see how they are interconnected.

How programmatic buying works?

The programmatic ecosystem is multilayered and includes several elements.

Before discussing how programmatic buying works. It’s better to clear with the definition of those elements.

Agency buying/trading desks (ATD):

A media buyer or reseller that manage programmatic media and behaves like an isolated working unit.

Demand-side platform (DSP):

It’s a system that permits buyers of digital Ad space to manage multiple ad exchanges and data exchanges through a single interface. It’s used by media buyers to buy Ad impressions in a cost-effectively.

Supply-side platform (SSP):

It’s used by publishers to automate the selling of their Ad space. It’s to maximise prices for selling impressions.

Ad Exchanges:

An intermediary digital platform that connects media buyers and publishers and facilitates transactions.

Ad Networks:

A company which collects Ad space from publishers, segment it and resells it to media buyers in bulk.

Data providers/data partners (DMP):

Data management platform is a system that permits media buyers and publishers to manage proprietary data.

Media Buying Process

Media buying process

In programmatic advertising, an agency represents marketers who purchase ad space in the website. And, the website owner is known as a publisher. Impressions refer to the point where Ad displayed once on a web page or viewed once by a visitor.

In traditional days, the buying and selling of ad space were direct. Later, the marketers or agency started buying Ad space in thousands, which referred as ‘cost per thousand’ (CPM). Then, ads are created to fill the Ad space.

By and by, publisher-created thousands and thousands of web pages that created millions and billions of unsold Ad space. It gave rise to a new set of a company called Ad network.

Entry of Ad Network

The Ad network represented as a ‘sales representative’ or ‘broker’. It purchases unsold or remnant Ad space from the publisher.

Afterwards, they applied technology and segmented and packaged the Ad space according to the audiences. With the result that, it became easy for the buyer to target the audience they wanted.

Thus, demand for the ad network rises that leads to the addition of new ad networks started. It gives rise to trading for the Ad space. In fact, hundreds of competing business models trading Ad space in different ways.

These buying and selling processes became hard for everyone. Because they have to deal with lots of different companies to get the best price to buy and sell the Ad space. It created a desperate need for efficiency. It gave rise to a brand new business model called the Ad exchange.

Entry of Ad exchange

The Ad exchange created the opportunity to buy target audiences rather than purchasing an Ad space in thousands.

The sellers made their audiences available on the platform. Buyers then pick the audience and bid on them. The winner of the bid now can have their Ad in front of the right audience at the right time.

Hence, impressions now can be ported in two ways- Ad network with Ad space packages and Ad exchange with the specific audience. With the use of technology, it increases lots of opportunities at both the buyer and seller side. 

At the buyer’s side, some agencies created their proprietary ATD’s or invested in a DSP’s. It generated the ability to trade on ad exchange efficiently and in real time. At the seller’s side, some publishers directly connected with the ad exchange and others invested in an SSP’s. It optimises the selling price of the publishers.

On the other side, you can’t forget about the Ad network. It is the other convenient way to buy and sell the media. As a media buyer, you need to decide which suits you better to reach your real-time advertising goals.

Based on the type of programmatic buying strategy you choose, the role of media buying varies slightly. Let’s put a light on them.

Role of media buying in programmatic advertising

In media buying variety of factors needs to be considered before buying an Ad space which includes-

  • Choose the right media to achieve marketing goals.
  • Select the right audience.
  • Select the specific city, region or nation.
  • Choose the location of the Ad on a particular page.
  • Select in how many pages of the website the Ad should display.
  • Determine the size of the Ad
  • Define the start and end date of the running campaign
  • Check for the traffic a site receives and the website users’ demographics.
  • Analyse the competition for that particular Ad
  • Execute, manage and optimise cross-device programmatic media campaigns
  • Optimise media campaigns towards marketing goals and performance objectives.
  • Analyse campaign data and come up with strategies to improve performance.
  • Monitor campaign delivery and optimise to reach marketing goals.
  • Prospects new publisher and media opportunities.
  • Media budget management and implement changes if required.
  • Analysis and review of media options based on target audience, market penetration and cost efficiencies.

Undoubtedly, media buying plays a very crucial role in programmatic advertising. Let’s list out the benefits associated with it in detail.

Benefits of Programmatic Media Buying

Programmatic media buying provides massive benefits to media buyers which include-

  • It provides a transparent view of the pricing model.
  • It helps media buyers for branding, retargeting, and lead generation.
  • Buyers can bid for specific spots to display Ad.
  • Can create ads, static or rich media, according to your business needs.
  • Develop existing customers by representing customer specific campaigns based on their purchase history.
  • Define specific channel like choosing a social channel for ads to be displayed in a user’s feed.
  • Can create your custom audience on Facebook by uploading your custom list and can target them custom messages.
  • It also allows to develop videos and bid on them to be shown to specific users.
  • It automates the placement process by choosing who to serve impressions.
  • Media Buyers have the option to buy thousands of sites at a time, focusing only on the audience you’ve chosen.
  • Marketers can automate ads to show on a specific web page or a device like mobile, desktop or laptops.
  • Media buying in advertising enables advanced targeting based on behaviour, demographics, and purchase history.
  • Marketers no longer need a separate platform for different channels or to reach out to a dozen individual websites to purchase.
  • Media buying in advertising allows media buyers to be nimble with Ad strategy.
  • Every consumer interaction with ads tracked, all of that data is available instantly. Letting media buyers make adjustments to campaign in real time.
  • Programmatic media buying through RTB auctions take place in milliseconds. It displays right ads to the right audience at the right time.

Final touch

Programmatic media buying is an automation system for selling and buying Ad space over digital platform using technology.

Media buying process involves analysing and specifying every parameter to display Ad according to the campaign needs.

Programmatic media buying you can perform in various ways, but RTB is the most commonly used way.

Media buying platforms provided media buyers with lots of options to customise and choose the Ad space. Besides, it helps to reach the right audience and at the right time in a cost-efficient manner.

Hope, now you’re clear with the topic programmatic media buying. Please do comment and reply with your experience. How programmatic media buying helped you in achieving your marketing goals.


Syeda Khadeer Sultana

Khadeer sultana has been working with challenging clients for more than four years. She holds a master's degree in engineering and technology and has the first-rate conception on digital marketing. Her thirst for knowledge lies in learning something exciting every day. Currently, she is putting her efforts in delivering content on advanced marketing techniques to confer a benefit to entrepreneurs.


  1. Asif-Reply
    November 8, 2018 at 6:08 am

    Thank you for giving this valuable knowledge. Good work! Cheers Khadeer

    • Syeda Khadeer Sultana-Reply
      November 8, 2018 at 7:17 am


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    • Syeda Khadeer Sultana-Reply
      November 22, 2018 at 9:07 am

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