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How to Get Into Programmatic Planning & Buying Without Experience

How to Get Into Programmatic Planning & Buying Without Experience

How to Get Into Programmatic Planning & Buying Without Industry Experience

Programmatic media buying offers the ability to target the right audience at the right time, optimize ad campaigns, and achieve remarkable results. However, for those eager to begin a career in programmatic media planning and buying, a common challenge arises: How do you break into this competitive field when you lack prior experience?

This article is your gateway to discovering the strategies, insights, and actionable steps that can help you break into programmatic media buying, even if you're starting with a blank slate. 

Skills and Knowledge Required for Programmatic Media Buying

Entering the world of programmatic media buying without prior experience may seem daunting, but acquiring the right skills and knowledge is the key to finding success. 

Here, we'll explore the essential skills and foundational knowledge you need to kickstart your journey into programmatic media planning and buying:

  • Analytical Skills: Programmatic media buying thrives on data. Developing strong analytical skills is extremely important for interpreting campaign metrics, identifying trends, and making data-driven decisions. Excel in data analysis, and you'll excel in programmatic planning and buying.

  • Digital Advertising Fundamentals: A solid grasp of digital advertising basics is crucial. Understand concepts like ad impressions, click-through rates (CTR), conversion tracking, and key performance indicators (KPIs). Familiarity with advertising platforms like Google Ads and Facebook Ads can be advantageous.

  • Tech Savviness: Programmatic advertising relies heavily on ad tech ecosystems. Get acquainted with demand-side platforms (DSPs), supply-side platforms (SSPs), ad exchanges, and data management platforms (DMPs). Knowledge of how these components interact is essential.

  • Marketing Principles: While programmatic media buying is highly technical, it's also rooted in marketing principles. Comprehend audience segmentation, ad targeting, and the psychology of consumer behavior to craft effective ad campaigns.

  • Strong Communication: Programmatic media buyers must collaborate with colleagues, clients, and tech teams. Effective communication is vital for conveying ideas, explaining campaign strategies, and addressing issues efficiently.

  • Ad Creative Understanding: Familiarize yourself with different ad formats, creative strategies, and best practices. Recognize the elements of compelling ad creatives that resonate with target audiences.

  • Budget Management: Budget allocation is a significant aspect of programmatic media planning and buying. Learn to manage campaign budgets effectively while optimizing for maximum ROI.

  • Data Privacy and Regulations: Familiarize yourself with data privacy regulations like GDPR and CCPA, as they impact programmatic advertising practices.

  • Problem-Solving Skills: Programmatic media planning and buying often presents challenges. Develop problem-solving skills to address issues related to ad performance, targeting, and campaign optimization.

By acquiring these skills and knowledge, you'll build a strong foundation for a career in programmatic media buying. 

Remember that while a formal education is definitely one of the best ways to enter the industry, hands-on experience and self-guided learning are also very valuable in building the necessary skills and abilities needed to be successful. 

What is the Best Way to Prepare for Programmatic Media Planning & Buying?

When it comes to preparing for a career in programmatic media buying, the most efficient and comprehensive path is to earn a degree in a related field. 

Here's why pursuing a degree is widely regarded as the best way to prepare for programmatic media planning and buying:

Specialized Education: 

Degree programs in fields such as Digital Marketing, Advertising, or Media Management offer specialized education designed to cover the finer details of programmatic media buying.

Comprehensive Curriculum: 

These degree programs provide a comprehensive curriculum that encompasses both theoretical concepts and practical skills, ensuring a well-rounded understanding of programmatic advertising.

Experienced Faculty: 

Many degree programs are led by industry professionals with extensive experience in programmatic media planning and buying. Learning from experts in the field can provide valuable insights and real-world perspectives.

Industry Recognition: 

Earning a degree in a related field from a reputable institution carries weight in the job market. It demonstrates your commitment to acquiring specialized knowledge and skills, making you a more competitive candidate.

Internship Opportunities: 

Many degree programs include internship opportunities that allow you to gain practical experience in programmatic media planning and buying. These internships can serve as a stepping stone to entry-level positions in the industry.

While other paths, such as self-study and online courses, can also lead to success in programmatic media buying, earning a degree is the most efficient way to gain the comprehensive knowledge, hands-on experience, and industry recognition hiring companies will be looking for. 

If you're looking for a structured and highly effective way to enter the field of programmatic media buying, pursuing a degree in a related field is by and far the best choice. 

What Will You Learn in a Programmatic Media Program?

Enrolling in a programmatic media program is an excellent way to acquire the specialized knowledge and skills needed to excel in the field. 

Below we have highlighted the topics you can expect to cover in a programmatic media program:

  • Fundamentals of Programmatic Advertising: Gain a comprehensive understanding of programmatic advertising, including its evolution, significance in modern marketing, and the various planning and buying methods.

  • Ad Tech Ecosystem: Explore the components of the ad tech ecosystem, including demand-side platforms (DSPs), supply-side platforms (SSPs), ad exchanges, and data management platforms (DMPs).

  • Data Analysis and Interpretation: Learn to collect, analyze, and interpret data for optimizing ad campaigns and making data-driven decisions.

  • Campaign Management: Dive into the intricacies of programmatic campaign management, covering campaign planning, targeting strategies, and creative optimization.

  • Audience Targeting: Master advanced audience segmentation techniques and learn to tailor ad campaigns to specific demographics, behaviors, and interests.

  • Optimization Strategies: Develop skills in campaign optimization, including budget allocation, bidding strategies, and continuous performance analysis.

By enrolling in a programmatic media program, you'll not only gain theoretical knowledge but also develop practical skills that are highly relevant to the industry. 

In other words, a degree program will equip you with the expertise needed to navigate the landscape of programmatic media buying effectively and prepare you for a lasting career regardless of the area of programmatic media you specialize in. 

Secondary Certifications and Training

While a degree program in a related field provides a solid foundation for a career in programmatic media planning and buying, complementing your education with secondary certifications and specialized training can further enhance your expertise and marketability. 

Here are some valuable secondary certifications and training options to consider:

Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Certifications:

The IAB offers a range of certifications, including the IAB Digital Media Sales Certification and the IAB Data Certification, which validate your knowledge and skills in digital advertising and data-driven marketing.

Google Ads Certifications:

Google offers various certification programs, such as the Google Ads Certification and the Google Analytics Certification. These credentials demonstrate your proficiency in Google's advertising platforms and analytics tools, which are widely used in programmatic media buying.

Facebook Blueprint Certification:

Facebook Blueprint provides certification programs focused on Facebook and Instagram advertising. Achieving these certifications showcases your expertise in leveraging social media platforms for programmatic advertising campaigns.

Programmatic Advertising Platforms:

Many programmatic advertising platforms, such as DoubleClick Bid Manager and The Trade Desk, offer certification programs. These certifications validate your ability to use specific platforms effectively.

Data Analytics and Visualization Courses:

Courses in data analytics, data visualization, and tools like Tableau or Power BI can enhance your ability to work with data effectively, a critical skill in programmatic media planning and buying.

These secondary certifications and training programs can demonstrate your commitment to ongoing learning and professional development, making you a more attractive candidate to employers in the competitive field of programmatic media buying. 

Additionally, they provide opportunities to specialize in specific areas of interest within programmatic advertising, further expanding your career possibilities.


In the pursuit of a career in programmatic media planning and buying, it's evident that the most efficient and comprehensive pathway involves earning a degree in a related field. These degree programs provide specialized education, a well-rounded curriculum, and access to experienced faculty, positioning you for success in the field.

Throughout any programmatic media program, you'll learn the critical areas of the profession, including ad tech ecosystems, data analysis, campaign management, and audience targeting. This educational foundation gives you the essential skills and knowledge necessary for excelling in programmatic advertising.

In addition to your degree, consider acquiring secondary certifications and specialized training, such as those offered by industry bodies like the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) or major platforms like Google and Facebook. These credentials not only validate your expertise but also enhance your competitiveness in the job market.

Remember that the field of programmatic media planning and buying is ever-evolving, requiring a commitment to continuous learning and adaptation. Stay informed about industry trends, emerging technologies, and data privacy regulations by participating in workshops, seminars, and ongoing education.

Lastly, embrace networking as a means to expand your professional connections within the industry. Engage with professors, fellow students, and industry professionals at events and conferences, as these connections can lead to valuable internships and job opportunities

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