Programmatic Advertising for Small Businesses: What, Why, and How?

Organizations of all sizes and industries can learn about and explore the world of programmatic advertising.

But for those who may have more limited resources (and time), knowing where to start can be tricky.

Read on to learn how to embrace and start building your business’ programmatic advertising strategy.

What is programmatic advertising?

Programmatic advertising uses algorithmic technology to buy and sell ad space.the term Programmatic Refers to how ad space is bought and sold.

This doesn’t mean the entire ad buying process is automated; you still need to enter details about targeting, budget, and expected results to enable the software to buy the right ad space based on your business goals.

Programmatic ad buying provides mass distribution for advertisers looking to reach a wider audience over the internet.

For small businesses, it’s worth noting programmatic ad buying no Free auction platforms (like Google’s Display Network – see the next section!). To access available inventory (website), you must purchase a programmatic advertising (SaaS) platform.

What’s the difference between Programmatic and Google’s Display Network?

If you’re reading this, you’re probably familiar with the Google Display Network (GDN).

GDN is only a fraction of the total available inventory (ad space) for display advertising online – so it’s more affordable for small businesses just getting started with display advertising.

However, GDN is only an ad exchange, and most programmatic platforms allow access to multiple ad exchanges on the same platform.

Image by author, August 2022

Remember, GDN is just an ad exchange.

Programmatic platforms open up a wider variety of ad inventory, which means more room for your ads to run.

The programmatic platform also supports a wider range of ad formats not available on GDN, such as audio ads, connected TV, and video.

Why invest in programmatic?

Programmatic advertising platforms typically cost a fraction of ad spend and can deliver greater returns for small to midsize businesses (SMEs) and global brands, so don’t ignore programmatic advertising just because you’re a smaller business .

Here are a few reasons why programmatic advertising is worth considering as an alternative to GDN:

1. Various forms of advertising

One of the fundamental principles of advertising is that businesses must invest in brand building campaigns (think highly visual ad formats like TV, audio and display) and instant sales activation (think bottom funnel campaigns like paid search).

While brand building can help drive the greatest long-term sales growth of any business, sales-activated types of ads tend to have less long-term impact on the brand and can be turned on and off like a click.

Programmatic display ad formats can support brand building Author image, August 2022

Due to its visual nature, programmatic display ad formats can support brand building campaigns.

The variety of ad formats available through programmatic platforms does work for brand building ads.

This includes but is not limited to:

  • native ads – advertise.
  • exhibit – Static and interactive.
  • video – In-platform and CTV (Connected TV).
  • vocal – In-platform (eg, Spotify), podcast advertising.

The cost-per-thousand-impression (CPM) model means you pay for impressions, not for programmatic buying, which is why it’s better for brand-focused campaigns (focusing on reach/impressions) rather than direct response campaigns .

2. High Quality Inventory

The main question that small businesses considering programmatic usually ask me is the benefits beyond GDN.

The answer is the quality and variety of publications you can access outside of Google.

For example, on most programmatic platforms, you can access direct deals with premium publishers that Google simply doesn’t have access to in the GDN.

This means access to top publications in your industry that are not available through placement targeting in the GDN.

It’s worth noting that programmatic and Google do share ad-buying inventory.

For example, sites such as are accessible on programmatic platforms and via GDN.

3. Goals and Efficiency

Programmatic advertising is designed to be more efficient.

Based on your business goals, an algorithm will determine where your cash is best spent.

Similar to most advertising platforms, you’ll still need to enter details about your target audience, campaign goals, and desired CPM goals, but the platform will do the heavy lifting.

Rather than bidding on inventory across multiple ad exchanges, programmatic ad platforms allow advertisers to simplify management into one platform, increasing the simplicity and efficiency of managing ad campaigns.

4. Scope and scale

Programmatic platforms offer greater scale and reach by leveraging algorithmic ad buying techniques across a variety of ad exchanges.

This means moving from a 1:1 ad buying model to a 1:many ad buying model.

Indeed, programmatic spending in 2021 reached $105 billion It is expected to increase to $123 billion by 2022, accounting for more than 90% of total digital ad spending.

This clearly shows that programmatic technology is rapidly taking over the way we buy and sell advertising.

Are your competitors already investing in programmatic placement?

If you’re interested in seeing if your competitors are already investing in programmatic advertising, there are a few options to choose from based on your budget.

You can use paid tools such as Similar sites Evaluate competitor spend on different ad networks.

SimilarWeb is more expensive than tools like this samlash and Arevesbut in my experience it does have more accurate website traffic data.

Free tools are available if you are on a budget moat Check out the actual creatives your competitors are running and when they are running in different ad inventory.

Ad format examples; see where your competitors are advertising Image by author, August 2022

How to Find a Programmatic Partner for Your Small Business

As you’ve probably already grasped, it’s more expensive to start with programmatic advertising due to platform costs (often billed as a percentage of spend). Still, the various benefits certainly outweigh the extra costs.

There are many different platforms, but I recommend using center or stack adaptation.

More resources:

Featured image: ArtemisDiana/Shutterstock

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