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Programmatic Display – The Next Big Step In Your Monetization

Programmatic Display
Programmatic display ad spend will be $58 bn in 2019 (US). Want to know how to take a cut from it?

If you’re monetizing your traffic with AdSense (or any other ad networks), you know what are ‘display ads’. But you probably aren’t aware of what’s happening behind the screen and the technologies in play – You’re about to learn them.

Before diving deep into the programmatic display, let us quickly convey the purpose of the programmatic.

Table of Content

How programmatic helps publishers (aka website owners)?

As you’re here, we assume you know programmatic is how publishers (premium or not) monetize their traffic. But there’s more than what meets the eye.

Relevancy – One of the important benefits of programmatic is its ability to target online users – based on behavior, interest, demographics, past purchase history, etc. For instance, when you implement any of the programmatic techniques (e.g. Header bidding, Programmatic direct, Programmatic guaranteed), your readers will tend to see ads from the brands they’ve known or from the brands that are relevant for them at the time.

High relevance means better user experience and higher CPMs (ad revenue).

Efficiency – Yet another aspect of programmatic is its efficiency. You can receive bids from thousands of buyers across the globe, depending on the users. Publishers can’t get direct deals from the local advertisers to fill up all the ad impressions. On the other hand, advertisers cannot possibly reach out to thousands of publishers to set up ad campaigns.

Programmatic puts an end to this. It connects both sellers (publishers like you) and buyers (advertisers) at scale. You’ll get a chance to know the real market value of your ad inventories as there are several buyers available to bid for your ad inventories.

Increased transparency & control – Unlike traditional digital advertising, programmatic offers more transparency to the publishers and advertisers. While the publishers can see the price associated with their ad inventories, advertisers can see exactly where their ads are going to be displayed and the type of audience viewing their ads. Besides, publishers have full control over the ad inventories as they can select buyers accordingly.

Okay, what is programmatic?

Programmatic is an automated buying and selling of online media with the help of machines, in real-time based on real-time data. Now, how is it different from the ad networks you use to monetize?

Ad networks package and deliver ad inventories from millions of publishers to advertisers for a price. There’s nothing more, nothing less. Programmatic, on the other hand, involves several ad exchanges, SSPs, and DSPs. 

Ad Network – The 2020 Primer For Publishers



Ad Exchanges – Ad Exchanges act as marketplaces and facilitate the real-time auctions where advertisers bid for ad impressions from the sellers (like you) in real-time. See how ad exchanges are better than ad networks.

SSPs – Supply-Side Platform is the technology used to put up the impressions on ad exchanges (and ad networks) for sale. SSP also helps you to set up floor prices (minimum CPM you’re willing to accept) and comes with an in-built optimization/analytics suite.

DSPs – Demand-Side Platform is similar to SSP. Buyers use DSP to buy impressions from different ad exchanges efficiently.

Sidenote: There are different types of programmatic – Open auction (the one explained above), Private Marketplaces, Programmatic Direct, and Programmatic Guaranteed. However, you can skip the rest for now as they place higher requirements.

What is a programmatic display?

We know you could answer it yourself now. Display ads delivered via the programmatic channels (DSP – Ad Exchange – SSP) is termed as ‘programmatic display’.

The time is now

While the benefits (increased ad revenue, highly relevant ads) are apparent, you won’t see the revenue skyrocket without the market demand. So, is there a market demand for programmatic display advertising?

Of course. The demand for programmatic displays is growing faster than any other form of advertising.

From eMarketer:

Programmatic display advertising

More than four of every five digital display ad dollars in the US today transact via programmatic means.

By 2020, US advertisers will transact nearly $70.23 billion in US digital display ad spending programmatically, accounting for 86.3% of the digital display pie.

From Zenith:

67.2% of all money will be spent on advertising in digital media in 2020 will be traded programmatically, according to Zenith’s Programmatic Marketing Forecasts.

US Programmatic Ad Spend.

Let’s get specific. That’s how you know where to focus first.


Generally, publishers know desktop ads are lucrative. But you shouldn’t ignore mobile traffic. eMarketer predicts that mobile will attract two-thirds of programmatic ad dollars and nearly $105.34 billion will be spent on mobile ads in the US along by 2020. Besides, the influence of Facebook and Google, who are both mobile- and programmatic-centric will propel the industry towards mobile display ads.

Not just your readers, the whole internet is seeing the dramatic shift to mobile devices. As consumers and shoppers are using their mobile devices increasingly to make decisions and purchases, advertisers are spending a lot more on mobile ad campaigns. Programmatic display ads on mobile brought in $36.09 billion in revenue last year.

In fact, mobile accounts for 94 percent of ad sales on Facebook. When you’re entering into the programmatic display, consider mobile readers and place ad units strategically. That being said, bombarding your readers with ads will also divert them away. You shouldn’t hamper the user experience with the ads.

Best ad formats and sizes:

Naturally, the next question would be ‘what are the best ad sizes?’. We have researched and detailed the best ad formats and ad sizes for a publisher to start with. Here’s the quick overview.

Standard banner ads – 320*250, 320*50, and 300*50.

Video ads – 320*480 and 480*320.

Interstitial ads – 320*480.

Native ads – 320*480 and 300*400.

Rich Media ads – 320*480 and 320*320.

Best Mobile Ad Formats and Ad Sizes to Increase Viewability and Revenue

How to get started with the programmatic display?

Getting started with the programmatic display may sound a bit complex, but the process is straightforward. Especially SSPs allow you to focus on content as they do the setup and optimization.

First off, you should assess whether you meet the minimum threshold.

Basic requirements

Obviously, pageviews – one of the most common requirements to sign up for the programmatic monetization method is the traffic. Typically, page views are considered while evaluating a publisher. So, how many page views should you have at least?

To put it simply, it depends. As we mentioned earlier, SSPs are necessary to get you bids from multiple ad exchanges. And, supply-side platforms have their own minimum page views requirements. Some accept publishers with 1 million page views, others might expect 2 million. For instance, we tend to accept publishers with 1 million page views.

Audience – It isn’t necessary to have a certain set of audience. But our advice is to keep building them right from the start. We’ve seen visitors from Google earning better CPMs than the visitors from social media. Sometimes, direct visitors generate more page views and hence, more revenue.

Brand-safe content – This one is no brainer. Every partner will accept websites with brand-safe content.

Sell-Side Vendors

Once you’ve cleared the basic requirements, you can sign up with an SSP almost immediately. But here are a few excerpts to help you filter the best from the rest.

Product – Without a great product, you can’t get the best possible revenue. Page latency, slow ad rendering, etc. will cause you further trouble. So, make sure they have the right product built on an open-source technology (like prebid.org).

Analytics and Optimization – The problem with ad networks is that you aren’t in control. But programmatic puts you in control and you have the ability to optimize (on the most granular level you could think of). Ad sizes, demand partners, pages, ad layouts, ad placements, price floor, you name it. But if the vendor doesn’t provide you with an analytics and optimization dashboard to do it, there’s no point in signing up for them.

Service and Support – You can’t overlook the support. As you’re new, you need all the help there is.

What’s next?

You just know programmatic display 101. You know what makes programmatic better, how to get started, and what needs to be considered. As the one who helped hundred of publishers move from ad networks to programmatic, we can assure you that the revenue can increase up to 40 percent. If not, let us know – We’ll fix it.

Automatad Team

At Automatad, we help publishers to monetize better without hampering the user experience. Our products are live across hundreds of publishers, earning them incremental ad revenue with every passing second. You can request a free audit to get an estimated revenue uplift today.

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