3 Types of Programmatic Media Buying

| Updated on March 4, 2024

The area of programmatic media buying is steadily developing and attracting more and more attention in recent times. There are three main types that belong to the most popular today: media buying through an open auction (RTB), private marketplaces, and purchases via the direct tool. Let us discuss them closely.


Auctions in real-time mode are one of the concepts where buying and selling take place in a fraction of a second, averaging 200 milliseconds from the moment a bid is sent to the auction until the advertisement is published. For comparison, the human eye blinks in 300 milliseconds.

Let us explore an example:

  • User X visits the publisher’s mobile page or app
  • As soon as user X enters the web page or application from which the bid is made, the bid is submitted to the auction. 
  • The application contains unique information about the user (device type, IP address, operating system), and it provides it to auction participants.
  • Publishers make ads available through exchanges, which then signal all advertising providers to start an auction. 
  • The latter use DSPs to obtain data about users of mobile sites or applications and evaluate whether the user is in the target audience. Depending on this, ad providers buy ads and can manage their campaigns by setting a bid cost.

Once a bid is determined, DSP analyzes all current advertiser campaigns and finds the best one for the user. The DSP, on behalf of the bidders, bids against others, and the highest bidder gets the right to place an advertisement on the mobile site page or app.

Private Marketplaces

Private marketplaces are venues available by invitation. Using them, publishers are given the opportunity to set aside a certain number of advertising spaces and sell them to a selected buyer or group of them through the private auctions that take place via a Deal ID (a unique code generated according to the terms of the transaction agreed upon by the buyer and the seller).

The benefits of this tool are as follows:

  • Publishers get more control over the choice of customers.
  • Advertisers receive the chance to test this mode of buying under controlled conditions.

Private sites are an intermediate stage between publicly available auctions and private deals, suitable for those willing to obtain premium seats before they appear in the public auction.

Programmatic Direct

With this method of purchasing ads, you can test these technologies without losing direct cooperation with publishers.

It is chosen by companies that want to focus on brand safety and seek premium placement on websites of their choice and publisher apps. Only here they can find the desired platforms for advertising, where it is not possible to work via the auctions.

In this case, purchases are made in two ways: guaranteed purchases and automatic purchases.

In a nutshell, among those who will find this option suitable are advertisers who care about security and reputation and people who are more interested in final conversion actions than impressions. In such cases, programmatic will actually work for them.

Adam Green

With more than 3 years of experience as a software and tech writer on GetAssist.net Adam has been writing articles, blogs, and featured stories centered around the software and tech niche since he graduated from Virginia Tech University. He writes savvy articles, tutorials, and reviews that explain difficult concepts to readers of all levels. His expertise includes software development, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and emerging technologies. Through simple and engaging writing, Adam constantly delivers useful insights that enable readers to feel at ease in the ever-changing technological scene.

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