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Programmatic Guaranteed – Everything You Need to Know

Programmatic Guaranteed
“GDPR has clearly increased that scarcity, and as the market matures with programmatic guaranteed, we’re clearly seeing an increase of such deals"

The advent of Programmatic Guaranteed

Programmatic (read: automation) has fundamentally changed the way we transact media. Both publishers and buyers went deep into the technique that now we’ve developed levels of automation existing to serve slightly varied yet improved purposes. Example? Programmatic Guaranteed. 


Let us explain. By now, you’ve heard the term ‘Private Marketplace (PMP)’. Private Marketplace is a closed or invite-only real-time auction where a publisher can allow selected advertisers to bid on the inventories. 

Though it enabled advertisers to leapfrog spoofers and helped publishers to procure higher CPMs, it failed to do it at scale. More often than not, advertisers found it hard to reach (enough of) their target audience and as a result, publishers wouldn’t get the expected revenue. Both parties wanted a guarantee and here we are, with yet another acronym – PG. 

Table of Contents

What is Programmatic Guaranteed?

Programmatic Guaranteed (PG) is a way for a publisher and an advertiser (one-on-one) to trade impressions in a more granular route. How granular? The audiences are targeted based on device ID or cookie. 

A publisher will guarantee to deliver a certain volume of impressions, the buyer, on the other hand, pre-agree to pay a specific price for the guaranteed impressions. Ad sizes, environments (rich media, web, video, mobile, in-app), and start/end date for the deal are all pre-negotiated. 

“GDPR has clearly increased that scarcity, and as the market matures with programmatic guaranteed, we’re clearly seeing an increase of such deals”

– Guillaume Périé, Head of Programmatic for Europe, Reuters (Digiday)

The publisher’s audience will be synced with the buyer’s to find the common segment, which will be targeted. The catch is, there won’t be any transactions if there’s no audience match.

How Does Programmatic Guaranteed Work?

As you know what is programmatic guaranteed, you could’ve roughly pictured the working. Let us help you refine the sketch. First off, platforms handle programmatic guaranteed in their own way. The difference is going to be thin, probably. Here’s the common theme that would help you to understand the working of PG.  

Both publisher and advertiser have to negotiate and fix the specifics of the deal. Once it is done, the publisher’s ad server has to send a bid request to the buyer’s DSP (demand-side platform) along with the Deal ID, whenever it finds the right audience.

DSP interprets the bid request and sees whether it is a match. Because of deal ID, DSP knows what price to bid. Apparently, it wins the impression if there is a cookie or device ID match. As the publisher’s server does the job of finding the right audience, DSPs sometimes turn off their targeting filters and bids at the negotiated price whenever there’s the right deal ID. 

We missed something, didn’t we?

Data Management Platform syncing. For all of this to happen, the publisher should sync its data management platform with that of the buyer. The syncing helps both parties to know the target audience to send a bid for. 


The buyer may not bid on all the bid request sent by the publisher, though there’s a match. Some DSPs will signal the buyers whether they’re on pace to meet the goal. If so, buyers can choose to pass the bids. So, publishers can’t expect a 100% fill rate. 

Benefits of Programmatic Guaranteed

For Publishers

Revenue: You can attract relevant buyers who are the big programmatic spenders and negotiate a higher CPM.  

Automation: You can negotiate, set up, and run campaigns using the same platform (for instance, Google Ad Manager), automating most of the sales and negotiation process. 

User Experience: Better advertisers, better ads, and as a result, better user experience. 

Strategy: You need to study readers and choose the right advertisers for them to run a successful PG. The same is true afterward too. This, in turn, pushes you to strategize your content and user acquisition strategy. 

No creative management: In PG deals, advertisers host the creatives, so you don’t have to worry about ad creative management. 

For Advertisers

ROI: Obviously, buyers only bid whenever there’s a match. With the right messaging and ad creative, the campaign would yield better results for buyers. 

Efficiency: Buyer’s DSP don’t have to process thousands of bid requests in PG. In fact, it’ll just have to bid for the bid requests flagged with the PG deal ID. This means increased efficiency and decreased processing time/cost. 

Tagless: PG deals enable buyers to run direct buys with tagless trafficking, advanced targeting, and consolidated reporting and billing. Besides, buyers don’t need to deal with discrepancies and multiple invoices. 

How to Set Up a Programmatic Guaranteed Deal?

Unlike other programmatic methods, setting up a PG is quite straightforward. The trickiest part is to ink a deal with an advertiser – with higher CPM and a huge volume of impressions. The actual setup can be done in one place with a couple of clicks. 

That being said, it ultimately depends on the platform you use to run PG. We’ll try to brief how to set up and execute a programmatic guaranteed deal in Google Ad Manager, the most-used ad server. Other platforms could be a bit different, but this one will serve as a decent analogy. 


Your GAM account should be mapped to a Google Ad Exchange account

You should enable ‘Programmatic Direct’ by navigating to Admin > Global settings > Features

You’ve to enable permissions to sales or other users. 

Set up the environment to let buyers know the format of inventory (Display, Mobile App, In-stream Video). 

Step 1: Create Publisher Profiles

To put it simply, you can create profiles to explain who you are, what kind of content you publish, who your readers are, description of inventory and why a buyer might want to partner with you, achievements, etc. 

Step 2: Visibility Options

It works as a marketplace. You can set your visibility as – Open to all buyers or no buyers at all or specific buyers or all buyers except the specified ones. 

Buyer visibility in ad manager

Step 3: Negotiation and Execution

As per your visibility, buyers who would like to run PG deals can make offers to you. You can modify the offer, negotiate, and run campaigns within the platform. 

Now that you’ve set up your profile, it’s time to set up a Programmatic Guaranteed proposal. Let’s see how to do it:

  1. Go to Sales > Proposals > Add new proposal.
  2. Enter the details for the given proposal. You will be required to provide Name, Advertiser, and select the buyer from the drop-down menu.
  3. Once the proposal is created, you have to create a Proposal line item. Once you’ve created the line item, it’s time to send it to the buyer. Click on Request Acceptance and Send for review.

Proposal line item in ad manager

Are you ready to run a PG deal?

None of the things you do makes sense if you haven’t built an audience base. Buyers aren’t necessarily looking for the tens of millions of visitors in a publisher. 

There are two ways to run PG. 

Build a niche audience:

Though you don’t have 100 million unique monthly readers, you can build a few million niche readers by publishing the right content. And, that dramatically increases the chances of audience match for a buyer from the same niche. 

Attract tens of millions of readers: 

Cast a wide net to get tens of millions of readers across various niches. Here the scale is more important as the audience match may not get to a considerable volume of impressions the buyers want to target. 

However, many buyers would want to run a guaranteed deal with you, mainly because of the quality of your content and brand recognition. 

Where to Start?

Marketers are still finding it better to buy impressions on open ad exchanges as they’ve significantly improved their efficiency and filtering process lately. Some marketers use open ad exchanges as a ground to find new inventory and publishers with whom they can ink a direct programmatic deal in the future. 

We suggest you grow the readers (pick the niches – tech, business, etc.) and your influence while transacting on open marketplaces through header bidding/exchange bidding. When you got what buyers want, you’ll find it easy to negotiate and close deals.  

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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