Illuminated: Digital Advertising 101

  Written by Grant Phifer

Written by Grant Phifer

 

The digital advertising landscape has changed over the last few years. You know that, probably because you work in it every day. Or you’re studying about it in school. You’ve probably heard phrases thrown around like, “programmatic.” Accompanied by an alphabet soup of other acronyms like, CPM (Clicks per Mille, which actually means clicks per thousand...), CTR (Click Through Rate), or CTV (Connected TV). Maybe you’re being asked to learn all this. Maybe you just want to know what’s going on. Don’t worry. We’re here to help.

Before we dive in too deep, let's make it clear that the definition of digital advertising can change depending on where you go. Here, let's think of digital advertising as banner and video ads—the ads that appear at the top of your screen on any given webpage. Not social media. That’s a whole other ball game.

So, let's jump in.

Programmatic advertising is a complex topic. At the highest level, it’s a technology that allows for the automation of digital media buys—technology does the hard work of finding where the right people will see your online ads. Generally, it refers to the automation of rate negotiation. It still requires a media buyer to interact with and optimize a campaign for the most effective results, though.

The robots aren’t taking over. (Not yet anyways.)

Media buyers use tools called Demand-Side Platforms (DSPs) that help them interact with and purchase inventory—inventory being where the ad appears—for their campaigns. This can be anything from video on a connected device (think Sling TV) to banners or mobile in-app ads. DSPs work with multiple ad exchanges to make inventory available all over the world, specifically on sites that meet the needs of an individual campaign.

Digital media buyers, using this tool and other data partners, work to meet the goals of a campaign, which can range from general brand awareness to tracking a consumer's journey after they view an ad and go to purchase a product. Advertisers also take advantage of data providers—companies like Oracle or Nielsen—to target audiences on their behavior and/or deliver ads to sites that match the context of an ad. For example, it makes more sense to put an ad for computers on a technology-based website than it does to run it on a fashion blog.

Programmatic advertising and digital media buying are great ways to understand the changing landscape of the industry. It’s a look into what the future of advertising could be.


This article is a brief overview of digital media buying and programmatic advertising. You can learn more about programmatic by visiting industry sites like Digiday, AdWeek, and AdAge. You can also take courses on sites like Google’s Academy for Ads.

Dax PattonComment