PPC Specialist – PPC Job Description, Salary & Qualifications | Digital Media Jobs

PPC Specialist Job Description

What is PPC?

PPC stands for Pay Per Click and is a model of online marketing in which advertisers pay a fee for every click on one of their ads. Rather than earning visits to a website organically through digital marketing practices like SEO, advertisers can buy visits to a website via PPC advertising.

Remember before you clicked on this web page? The Ads at the very top of Google, those were PPC advertisements. PPC, also referred to as Paid Search, is one of the most common forms of Search Engine Marketing (SEM).

What makes PPC marketing unique is the ability for advertisers to bid on ad placement in a search engine’s sponsored links. An advertiser’s sponsored link is placed when someone searches a keyword phrase that is related to the advertiser’s business, product, or service. However, these keywords must “win” the bid in order to show up for specific searches.

What Do PPC Specialists Do?

This is where a PPC Specialist comes in. A lot goes into building a PPC campaign that will “win” bids and effectively generate leads, ecommerce conversions, and website traffic.

A PPC Specialist must first identify which keywords they want to bid on and how much they plan to spend and are willing to bid in the auction.

The bid amounts needed are auction based and determined, in-part, by what other advertisers are willing to bid for the same keywords. These keywords will be grouped together and paired with ads. An important thing to note about ad spend is that an advertiser cannot just “pay the most” and have their ad show up every time it is triggered by a keyword.

Search engines like Google and Bing have complex algorithms in an auction format that determine which ad wins the bid and gets displayed, in which order, and by which advertiser.

What’s a Quality Score & Why Does It Matter?

Part of this algorithm takes into account “Quality Score.” Quality Score plays a huge influence on the cost and effectiveness of an ad and can earn an advertiser major points in the eyes of a search engine.

Google rates the quality and relevance of both the keywords and the PPC ad itself to determine which ad will be most relevant and helpful to the person’s user experience. After all, the purpose of the internet is to make the transfer of information as easy as possible.

If the landing page, ad copy, and keywords are not in correlation with one another, an advertiser’s cost per click will rise. It is up to the PPC Specialist to align these efforts toward the Quality Score to maximize ROI.

Keyword research is conducted through Google AdWords, the most popular advertising system amongst digital marketers, along with other 3rd-party tools. PPC Specialists ensure that keyword lists are relevant, exhaustive, and expansive. Why pay for web traffic that has a minimal chance of conversion? A PPC expert must strategically choose targeted keywords that will lead to higher click through rates while maximizing the most effective cost per click.

How Do PPC Specialists Optimize Their Campaigns?

However, once the PPC campaign is created, it must be managed regularly. Pay per click management is the bulk of a PPC Specialist’s duties. A specialist must align specific search queries to appropriate landing pages to boost conversion rates.

This includes expanding the reach of your campaign by adding keywords, adding negative keywords for terms that you determine to be irrelevant or discover to be non-converting, and splitting your Ad Groups to create more targeted ad text and landing pages. PPC campaign management also includes modifying calls-to-action (CTAs) of landing pages.

Since Pay Per Click advertising is very flexible in terms of editing, this is a huge perk since audience behavior is ever changing. A PPC Specialist can make adjustments to their campaign at any time to adapt to changing market conditions.

With that being said, a Specialist monitors a PPC campaign on a daily basis to evaluate campaign performance and identify areas of improvement.

PPC Is No Longer Limited to Google/Bing

The goal of a Paid Search campaign in Google AdWords and Bing Ads is to drive qualified traffic to your landing page. However, advertisers are increasingly using Facebook and other social platforms to run their PPC campaigns as well.

Not only does Facebook have over 1.8 billion active monthly users, but you can tailor each campaign to satisfy your specific goal such as: brand awareness, lead generation, or store visits.

PPC Specialist Roles & Responsibilities

  • Plan, create, and manage PPC campaigns across a variety of channels
  • Keyword research and management to optimize bids (add PPC keywords and negative keywords)
  • Optimize bidding at keyword, placement, device, geographic, demographic, and other levels
  • Perform daily account management of PPC campaigns (review expensive under-performing keywords and ensure PPC campaign does not exceed weekly and monthly ad spend budget, maintain Quality Score, impression share and other important metrics)
  • Write engaging and concise copy to modify CTAs on ads to boost click-through-rates and landing pages to boost conversion rates
  • Monitor, evaluate, and present the performance of campaigns by generating weekly and monthly performance reports to clients analyzing trends, goals, opportunities, and other key performance indicators
  • Stay on top of search engine and PPC industry trends


PPC Specialist Qualifications

Typical Education Requirements:

  • A./B.S. in Marketing, Business, Communications, Computer Science, Information Technology, or any technology related field


Any of the following Bachelor Degrees listed above are acceptable to get your foot in the door, however, realize that this is really only a stepping stone into a specialized industry that will more than likely require self-teaching or a great deal of on-the-job training.

Employers want to know that you are either familiar with marketing concepts, proficient in writing, and computer savvy, but that’s just the barrier for entry. PPC campaigns thrive off of data analytics. Therefore, the modern Paid Search Specialist must be data driven and familiar with at least Google Analytics. Another great differentiator is to be certified by Google’s Academy for Ads. These two certifications will prove that you are serious about getting into the field.

Preferred Skills

  • Experience with Google Analytics, Google AdWords, and Facebook Business
  • Functional experience with all channels of Social Media
  • Advanced knowledge of Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Strong interpersonal skills, listening skills, and an articulate presenter
  • Excellent writing proficiency and content creation skills
  • Creative Thinking
  • Analytical skills
  • Research and problem solving skills


These skills are essential to the toolbox in order to break into the field of Paid Search because almost all of them will be required on a regular basis.

The ability to learn quickly is mandatory in order to secure a PPC career. Not only because most employers will require on the job training, but the field of Search Engine Marketing is constantly evolving. PPC Specialists must have the ability to anticipate and adapt to market trends.

Though digital marketing channels like PPC are incredibly results-and data driven, it is still important to have strong presentation and communication skills since client relationship management will be prevalent.

PPC Specialist Career Outlook

Though the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not provide data directly under the title “PPC Specialist”, they reported a 2% - 4% growth for the category of Search Marketing Strategist during 2014-2024.

Paid Search is an integral part of the digital marketing field. Businesses do not always have the luxury of time to organically rank at the top of the SERPs. With that being said, they turn to Paid Search for immediate results.

Since this field is always evolving, one of the biggest trends is adapting to machine learning. Google has upgraded its smart bidding technologies, ad rotation settings, and smart display campaigns for better audience targeting. This signals to employers that they can precisely advertise to their target demographic. In turn, PPC jobs are going to continue to be highly valued.

PPC Specialist Salary Expectations

The average salary for a PPC Specialist according to Indeed is $52,354 a year.

PayScale reports an annual income of a Pay Per Click Specialist at $40,591.






Latest From the Blog

Demand Side Platforms Explained DSP stands for Demand Side Platform, but what does it actually mean? Lots of terms and concepts in the programmatic advertising ecosystem can be hard to understand and even more difficult to explain. In this article, we’ll walk you through all there is to know about DSPs, how they work, and the role they play in Programmatic Advertising . How an Ad gets to you The world of online advertising functions much like traditional advertising: at its core, advertising of any form is all about getting you, the consumer, to view an ad, sign up for some list, become aware of a product or service, or purchase something.   Even in the online ecosystem, advertisers and their agencies still need send orders in to publishers for ad space in a variety of formats, which means that traditional media orders and buysheets aren’t totally dead. However, programmatic advertising allows advertisers to automate away a lot of the manual work – meaning that insertion orders and complicated media buying worksheets are on their way out. Ad agencies work with advertisers to come up with a variety of marketing materials – from simple text ads all the way to fully interactive expandable ads and entire websites. They load the digital versions of these marketing materials into an ad server, and the DSP allows them to place bids for showing these materials on available online ad space. This can happen directly, or via a DSP ad network. The publisher’s Supply Side Platform (SSP) accepts these bids from the DSP, and routes the winning ad to their ad server, where it’s made available to the user. DSP advertising attempts to make the complex system of finding and placing ads simpler, faster, and more affordable, with much of the underpinnings hidden away from the businesses using them. The system itself is also virtually invisible to end users just browsing the web, so it doesn’t interfere with the user experience at all either. What is a DSP, exactly? DSP advertising companies create complex and intelligent software to enable the online trading of ad space. But how does this actually work? At their core, DSPs are extremely complex, web-connected databases. They use human interactions and machine learning to optimize and track available ad space and the users those spaces refer to. This all happens on the backend via DSP ad networks – the “brokers” of this system. These networks are what actually “announce” the available ad space to the DSP system itself. Through machine learning processes, DSPs attempt to find the best possible traffic (usually the highest chance for conversion or click through) at the lowest possible price, allowing the advertiser to place ads more efficiently, and get more value out of their ad spends. You may have heard people talking about “DSP SSP” systems – these are closely related, but not the same thing. SSP software is what publishers use to make ad space available. Using similar machine learning processes, it attempts to earn as much money as it can for the publisher. We’ll go over the differences of SSP vs DSP a bit later in this post. Comparing the best DSP platforms As with any other business, there’s a lot of competition in the DSP space. New vendors open and old vendors close down regularly, so the options are constantly changing. Few DSP systems have stood the test of time – but those are the ones we’ll review in detail here. The Trade Desk This is the big daddy of DSPs. One of the first and one of the best DSPs available, The Trade Desk DSP offers a large feature set and some of the most flexible bidding terms available. This doesn’t come free, however, as use of the platform requires significant monthly minimums which may be too high for an individual advertiser. Because of cost considerations, this software platform is mostly used by agencies. The Trade Desk Pros & Cons Pros: Intelligent bidding – ability to modify bids on the fly based on any number of factors Integrated DMP Private video marketplace – exclusive to Trade Desk users Programmatic Connected TV options available Detailed reporting makes it easy to slice data Unique custom-built AI platform Cons: Expensive, high minimums required each month to maintain access Access to ad inventory is uneven – extensive in some areas, limited in others Doesn’t always play nice with other DSP software for reporting purposes Adobe Experience Cloud Adobe’s software is focused on connection and bringing data together to make better decisions. What it lacks in reach, it makes up for in reporting, analysis, and targeting tools. Adobe Experience Cloud Pros & Cons Pros: Best reporting and targeting system available Can handle multiple ad formats like search, TV, social, and video Cross-screen planning so you can run one campaign across media types Premium inventory manager brings campaigns that would normally run separately into the platform directly Multiple-device targeting instead of cookie targeting Cons: AI is offered as a paid upgrade Some complaints that the interface can be clunky Limited reach Despite all the backend benefits, if your ad can’t reach people it can be hard to justify selecting this software Taboola This is a unique DSP, focused more on video and content discovery than direct advertising. It has been criticized for having a spammy end-user experience, and it doesn’t always generate the best CTRs, but it’s typically much more affordable than the larger, more sophisticated platforms. Taboola Pros & Cons Pros: Unique content-focused DSP Wide reach, with placements on sites like Bloomberg, MSN, and NBC News Brand safety tools Offers different options for each level of the marketing funnel Cons: Tracking and reporting is not the best Comes across as spam on many sites Private marketplace only , limiting options for ad placement Amazon DSP This is the exclusive way to access Amazon’s network of ad space. This includes Amazon, of course, but also other sites they own such as IMDb and Zappos. Amazon DSP Pros & Cons Pros: The only DSP with direct access to Amazon’s ad inventory Unique reporting options available for Amazon-based inventory Integrates with other Amazon services, like Transparency and Brand Registry Kindle advertising available Cons: Only supports display and video ads Limited reach outside Amazon’s network of sites Access requires minimum monthly spend Few agencies are operating in the Amazon ad space Limited reporting for third-party ad networks Is a DSP also a DMP? This is a bit of a complex question, because a DSP can incorporate a DMP, but it doesn’t always. These two separate pieces of software work well together though, so there’s a good reason to choose a DSP that also has a DMP, or which is at least capable of interfacing with one. DMPs are Data Management Platforms. These systems bring together data from different sources and use it to define target markets and target individuals across devices with high precision. 1st party data - Data you already own, like subscriptions, demographic info, contact info, behaviors, purchase history from your website, cookies, social media, apps, etc. 3rd party data - Data that is purchased from companies that have purchased 1st party data from publishers Data Management Platforms are an important piece of the programmatic puzzle, and programmatic teams should consider how well a potential DMP interfaces with their chosen DSP when making the decision on which one to utilize. Other elements of the Programmatic Ecosystem There are quite a few other elements that DSPs connect to and work with. We’ve got a complete guide to the programmatic world available as well, but here’s a quick overview of what each piece does: Ad Server – Hosts all the data and media filed for each advertisement. These are normally connected to the DSP, but a publisher may also have one on their end Ad Network – Ad Servers and DSPs connect to these to find and traffic ad opportunities across the internet Ad Exchange – These are larger networks, usually made up of multiple ad networks. They have a lot of key differences, so we recommend viewing our full post on the subject Data Management Platform – These connect with DSPs to act as an assistant. Advertisers can use this to more effectively target and segment users. Publishers can use it to optimize their available ad space and more effectively price their ads Line Items – These are what advertisers enter in DSP software systems to instruct the system what sort of user to target. Similarly, advertisers use this to communicate what sort of space is available. Why are there 2 platforms? DSP vs SSP One of the most complex parts of programmatic marketing is understanding how everything works, because of how complex the system has grown to become. DSPs and SSPs are essentially the same software, doing many of the same processes – just in opposite directions. The reason these two systems each exist, and operate individually, is to accommodate the different goals inherent in each side of the programmatic equation. Publishers want to make the most money possible, and advertisers want to pay the least amount of money possible. If campaigns were managed by a single system handling both tasks, it could unfairly benefit a particular side – by forcing two systems to work against each other, this helps ensure the marketplace stays fair and balanced. Your Next Steps Where do you go from here? Now that you’ve learned more about how programmatic advertising works, why not look into getting started with a programmatic career of your own? You can find available Programmatic Marketing Jobs, and other jobs in digital advertising, by visiting our Jobs page !
Programmatic Advertising Explained Programmatic Overview It’s not unfair to say that programmatic advertising is a revolution in the world of marketing. No longer do we live in the Mad Men world of mass campaigns flung wildly around a market—nowadays, marketers buy audiences and access to individuals, not ad spaces, and the question has moved from “what do we advertise?” to “how do we deliver the right message, in the right context, at the right moment?" Unfortunately, confusion is as much a feature as it is a bug of ad tech. To help, Digital Media Jobs is here to explain. Let’s take a deep dive into the programmatic world with Programmatic Advertising Explained In Plain English. What is Programmatic Advertising? Programmatic means Automation: Programmatic advertising has eliminated the manual process of connecting inventory suppliers, data providers and media buyers to streamline the media buying process through automation. While humans are still involved, gone are the days of insertion orders, faxes, spec sheets, and all manner of other bureaucracy. Programmatic simplifies the relationship between advertisers and publishers and makes it easier to get ads in front of the people most suited for them. One of the main benefits of programmatic advertising is just how targeted advertisements can get with machine learning. By tracking past results faster than any human can, machine learning can redistribute ad budget in real time and calculate the best bids. This helps increase the chance that an ad backed by machine learning will win the auction and be shown to a user. A particular ad for pizza could be served only on sunny days to users in offices within a 5-minute drive of a Papa Pizza’s restaurant. Did they miss the advertisement on their work computer? Machine learning can identify their phone and serve a follow-up ad as they head out to pick up lunch. Programmatic Advertising Definitions Let’s start with a few basic explanations! What is a publisher? – Anyone who produces content that’s posted online and eligible to run ads. For example, The New York Times is a publisher. NPR is a publisher. This very site is a publisher. What is an advertiser? – Anyone who displays ads on the Internet (or off it!) is an advertiser. For example, Coca-Cola, Disneyland, The Cheesecake Factory, and Mazda are all examples of advertisers. This can happen directly within a company or through an ad or media agency. What is a marketer? – Marketers are the people behind the brands. They work with a variety of partners to get ads created, placed online, and out to the world. While there are distinctions between the marketing and advertising worlds, these terms are often used interchangeably and the line between them is increasingly blurred. What is a Lumascape? – Luma Partners created charts organizing the programmatic world of companies. The Lumascape charts are complex and there’s a whole pile of them. They can be confusing to read through, but they give a very good outlook into how data and information flow through the assorted programmatic data systems to reach a consumer. You can find them here . Ad Server The Ad Server is where all the images, videos, files, and pop-ups live. So, when a website needs to populate an ad space, it connects to the ad server and retrieves the appropriate content. Ad servers also do the legwork of tracking impressions, monitoring performance, and integrating with brand safety or fraud detection software. Ad servers work cross-platform, delivering ads to desktops, tablets, smartphones, billboards, and televisions. They can be remote (hosted by a third party as a service) or local. Ad servers also indicate the actual targeting for a particular ad. When an ad request comes in from the marketplace, the ad server matches the request to the associated ad. It’s extremely important to make sure this software is set up correctly, or the rest of your work as an advertiser will be wasted. Publishers and advertisers frequently have an ad server on each side of the equation. This has a number of benefits for tracking and keeping ad information updated, but can also present billing challenges. For example, Papa Pizza wants to ensure that all the publishers they advertise with have the newest set of ads. Without an ad server, they’d need to go out and update each publisher manually. With a server, they change it once and the ad updates automatically. The billing challenge occurs when the delays inherent to the Internet appear. Two ad servers mean two systems tracking impressions. If there’s any difference in the clicks tracked between the separate systems, the publisher and advertiser may have different numbers to base their billing on, causing an ad-serving discrepancy. There are many reasons this can occur (different ways of tracking, different platforms using separate analytics software, even geographic differences) but it’s important to maintain contact with the publishers you advertise with to help manage these discrepancies – this is where the old fashioned “pick up the phone and call” very much comes into play. Ad Network Ad Networks are the companies that buy ad impressions and sell them to advertisers. They act as the wholesale broker of the programmatic world. Advertisers don’t have time to look through every single online ad space – ad networks do this work for them. Most networks focus on segmentation by traditional demographics (age, gender, marital status, location, online habits) and current device. Others focus on price or content type (for example, some agencies may specialize in mobile, while others may choose to provide an adult-oriented service) – every network is different. After repackaging the variety of impressions they’ve purchased from multiple sites, ad networks sell impressions to advertisers for a profit. Ad Exchange Confusingly, ad networks perform much of the same functions as ad exchanges. There are a few important differences. Ad Networks vs Ad Exchanges Ad networks are single companies buying and selling bulk packages of ad impressions. Ad exchanges sell impressions one at a time. Ad networks specialize in whatever niche they decide to serve. Ad exchanges offer lots of options. Ad networks require some planning since impressions are purchased in bulk. Ad exchanges allow for optimizations at almost any time. Ad networks can be part of an ad exchange – sometimes they will sell space on an exchange, and sometimes they’ll buy space from one. Ad networks come with incomplete transparency. Advertisers don’t fully know what site their ads will show on, and publishers don’t know who is buying their ads. Ad exchanges usually provide click-by-click tracking, and sometimes allow advertisers to view competitive bids. However, publishers can decide what information to show on an advertiser-by-advertiser basis. There are different levels of transparency, from lowest to highest: Blind – The DSP receives no info at all. Masked URL – Programmatic method usually used in fraud cases, where a low-quality or unsavory site masks itself as a high-quality site (think a porn site pretending to be YouTube or Blogger) Top Level Domain/TLD – The advertiser knows the ad will be on Berry Vine’s website, but not which page in particular Section Targeting – The advertiser knows the ad will be in the Berry Vine’s Business section, but not which page in particular within that section Full URL – The advertiser knows exactly which page on the website the ad will appear on. Ad networks generally provide “premium” inventory (high visibility and high likelihood of being clicked on). Ad exchanges offer access to all inventory in the exchange. Both ad networks and ad exchanges can integrate with DSP and SSP software. Pricing at a particular ad network generally stays the same. Ad exchange pricing varies. However, ad network pricing tends to be higher than an ad exchange. Examples of Ad Networks: Google AdWords, Criteo Examples of Ad Exchanges: OpenX, Rubicon Project, Google DoubleClick / Google Ads Manager Agency Trading Desk / Programmatic Trader These are the wranglers putting in ad orders and tracking that the ads are filled and go out properly. They are often part of an online advertising agency, but they may also work in-house at a larger brand. They do everything: checking campaign performance, enacting optimizations, analyzing data and results, and even working with clients in some cases. They usually work across a variety of networks, exchanges, and other online ad providers. Their job roles can vary significantly based on experience and agency – to learn more, we’ve written a full report here. Data Management Platform / DMP Data Management Platforms sound scary, but at their core, they’re essentially a massive database. They store all kinds of data, from tracking and audience information to results and reports. DMPs are helpful in pulling out audience segments and more effectively advertising to those segments. Some platforms help marketers tie together the data from multiple platforms – normally an annoyingly complex task. Many DMPs also integrate with Demand-Side Platforms (explained below!), automating some of the ad optimization processes. Companies of all sizes can use DMP software to improve their advertising results. Many DMPs are charged on a per-second or per-data-processed basis, so it’s important to consider the pricing method that best fits your business. For more information, take a look at Google’s Cloud Pricing Calculator . Publishers use DMPs for optimization. For example, if the New York Times knows what sort of readership is most likely to read a certain article, they can charge more for ads when those particular people visit the article. DMPs help them identify those customers. It’s important to note that DMPs only work well when the data they store is complete. Be strategic about the data you collect and input into a DMP. Focus on data you and your direct partners have collected, as it tends to be the most useful. Third-party data should fill in the final gaps in your understanding of your customers, not as a strategy in itself. Demand-side Platform / DSP With the data from a DMP, the Demand-Side Platform gets to work. This is what drives the actual buying of the online ad marketplace. These platforms automate the ad buying process. Advertisers no longer need to fax orders and negotiate with salespeople – it all happens in milliseconds, millions of times a day. DSPs make it easy to track and manage online ad purchases. These platforms generally sell ads through a process known as Real Time Bidding. When a user arrives at a webpage connected to the programmatic world, an instant auction takes place. The DSP acts as one of the auction bidders – deciding whether to place a bid, and if so, how much of a bid to place. The goal is to get the best audience possible for the lowest price. Interestingly, DSPs have also affected the traditional ad agency model. DSPs are designed to be used directly by advertisers. Agencies provide guidance and strategic support to operate in more of a consultancy role. Supply-side Platform / SSP Supply-side platforms are essentially the inverse of demand-side platforms. Using similar technology, SSPs find the highest price for a potential ad space. By opening their space to far more advertisers than usual, a wider range of bids is considered and publishers can maximize their online ad revenue. Publishers can set many automated rules to help. They can introduce pricing promotions, set price floors to ensure they don’t sell spaces for too low of a price, automate service for ads sold by their human sales team, and much more. SSPs can also act as a bouncer, only allowing in bids from advertisers the publication has chosen to accept. Line Items & Bid Factors Line Items are how DSP and SSP software match their ads. When a user visits a page, the publisher’s ad server sends a request to their SSP. It matches the data the ad server collected about the page visitor to see if any line items in its’ inventory match. DSPs bid on these individual line items. Some software requires each variable to come in as a separate line item, which can quickly result in complex tables and thousands of potential items. This can cause traders to spend more time moving budgets and changing maximum bids, rather than optimizing them. A recent solution to this problem comes in the form of programmatic bid factors. Bid Factors automatically adjust the bid the DSP is authorized to make based on how important an individual characteristic is to an advertiser. For example, an advertiser could decide to increase the bid for Women 18-34, but not for men. In the same bid, they can also increase or decrease the amount they’re willing to pay by time of day, device type, or any of hundreds of other factors. Different Types of Programmatic Ad Buys Real-time Bidding / RTB on the open marketplace Here’s where digital marketing and the traditional sales process collide. RTB comes into play (usually) at the moment someone gets to a webpage where programmatic ad space lives. In the milliseconds between clicking the link to the page and the page itself actually loading, DSPs and SSPs navigate through an ad exchange and compare bids. The open marketplace accepts bids from everyone, and as long as the price floor is met, the highest bid wins. Many bids occur in what’s called a “second-price” auction. This process helps the winning advertiser save some money by only paying 1 cent over the next highest bid. Publishers stand to lose here, and some are reluctant to accept this. A new feature where the price floats to a point between the two bids is growing in popularity on the publisher side. This could be an interesting tug-of-war as the programmatic world continues to grow. Waterfall vs Header Bidding As many of us know, computers are fast but there is a limit. Users will navigate away from a page if it takes too long to load. Waterfall bidding prioritizes a publisher’s preferred ad networks and exchanges to ensure bids from that network are considered first. If no ads match the publisher’s criteria, or no DSPs send in a bid, the system continues to the next preferred network. This helps reduce the strain of having to process every single possible bid before loading the page, but could result in lost revenue. Here’s a quick example: The Berry Vine newspaper’s website has some ad space to sell. They’ve set their price floor at $3, so no bids under that price will even be considered. A user navigates to the page, and these bids come in on their preferred network: $1 $2 $3 $4 The SSP software selects the $4 bid and displays the ad from that advertiser. No other networks are considered since the first one met the criteria set by the SSP. However, there could have been a bid higher than $4 on the next network . Waterfall bidding means the publisher misses out on that opportunity. Header bidding solves this problem by conducting a more unified auction. It allows publishers to receive bids from multiple ad exchanges at once. It’s a tradeoff that opens more revenue potential for the publisher, but processing all those bids in the time it takes a page to load can cause longer page load times. This type of bidding is also difficult to implement and can be expensive to roll out. It’s not ideal, but companies need to make a strategic business decision regarding which of these two processes is more important to them. Google has recently attempted to solve this problem with Exchange Bidding. This process works similarly to header bidding but happens on Google’s servers instead of via a browser request. This solves the delays inherent in header bidding but results in other drawbacks, such as being unable to match an ad to a user (known as match rate). PMP / Private Marketplace Programmatic PMPs (private marketplaces) are invite-only. Publishers with a premium reputation sell their ads only to approved advertisers. Ads are still served programmatically, but in this case, the buyer knows exactly what website their ads will appear on. Ad exchanges are not involved, and the DSP connects directly to the publisher. Another version of this is the closed auction. Real-time bids still come in, but only from a list of approved advertisers. TL;DR: Private club. Tip the bouncer. Programmatic Direct / Guaranteed / Reserved / Premium / Preferred All these names basically mean the same thing – direct purchase of ad space outside of the bidding system, but still served programmatically. Guaranteed/direct sale ads can be sold in the traditional offline method, through ad exchanges, all kinds of different ways. It combines the guaranteed locked-in clicks of the “old methods” with the hyper-targeted precision of modern online advertising. For extra confusion, preferred deals exist. In this case, a publisher locks in a price with an advertiser. They get offered ad space first but are not required to buy the spot. If they decline, the space then enters the RTB system. For even more confusion, the Interactive Advertising Bureau calls this “automated guaranteed”. TL;DR: Deal happens outside of RTB but they’re still served programmatically. Deal ID Deal ID is one of the most important terms in the programmatic world. Deal ID is a unique string of characters that serves as an identifier and is submitted along with a bid. Anything can be tied to it: custom data, level of transparency, priority, minimum pricing, access to ad units, and access to specific sections of the site; even specific agency and client approval that would normally be unavailable can be tied to Deal ID. Some have called deal ID the “programmatic IO” or “modern insertion order”, and it remains an interesting quirk of the programmatic process. Deal ID combines the best of traditional advertising with the flexibility of programmatic advertising. This process gives power to publishers, but also a bit more risk – since they’re tying in more tightly with an advertiser, it’s possible their trust may be abused and their terms may not be fully respected. Who are some of the main players? It’s definitely important to know who you’re working with in the programmatic world. Some providers specialize in just one segment, while others provide a full range of programmatic services. Google – As with many other things, Google is king of the programmatic ecosystem. Through their DoubleClick brand (now known as Google Marketing Platform and Google Ad Manager), they offer DSPs, SSPs, ad servers, data management platforms, data processing solutions, an ad network, and an ad exchange. Amazon – Amazon also offers a wide variety of programmatic software, focused on display and video advertising. They offer a DSP, a SSP they call Amazon Publisher Services, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) powers much of the modern Internet. Amazon represents a unique opportunity since their ad software can fully integrate with the Amazon store – where users are very likely looking to buy something. Adobe – A recent entrant into the programmatic space, Adobe offers a comprehensive DSP, TV and search platform along with a powerful ad customization tool. Freewheel – Developed by Comcast, Freewheel is one of the main players in the video and programmatic TV ad space. They specialize in video and lead the pack as a result. The Trade Desk – Trade Desk is one of the largest DSP software providers. They’ve recently launched an integrated DMP and a new omnichannel feature that proves to be very interesting. Omnichannel ads run across multiple devices for the same person. They’re the reason that coat you looked at on your laptop is showing up on your tablet, smartphone, and soon, your TV.   Programmatic Crystal Ball Programmatic TV Programmatic TV isn’t all there yet, but it’s coming. The technology hasn’t been fully embraced, and some TV networks are likely to resist it – when you’ve got something that works, why change? However, the little networks with ad space to spare definitely have reason to take a look at this technology. You may have experienced programmatic TV advertising at home – Hulu uses programmatic technology to fill ad space, and it’s likely even more digital TV and connected TV networks will make the switch. You’ll also hear a similar term called addressable TV advertising – this just means targeted TV advertising within the same program (So if you’re watching the X Games, you may not see the same advertisements as your neighbor). Learn more here ! Ad viewability will be a central concern here – advertisers will want to measure how many people can both see and hear their ads. Programmatic DOOH You’ll see this referenced in a variety of ways: Digital OOH, Digital Out of Home, DOOH. They all mean the same thing: Internet-connected video billboards. This is already starting to become a reality. Digital Out of Home ads can already be served programmatically and update to take advantage of the latest geo-targeted ad data. In this case, advertisers are currently buying “expected audiences” rather than individuals. For example, they can buy ads based on who drives on a particular part of the 405 freeway at certain times of the day. Not many players have quite yet entered this space since most billboards are owned by a handful of companies. Your Next Steps Now that you’ve learned more about the programmatic ad process, why not look into programmatic careers? You can find these kinds of jobs and more on our Jobs page!
View all blog posts