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What is Programmatic Media Buying? And why should you care?

Programmatic media buying is quickly becoming a mainstream element of any successful online marketing campaign. Here’s why local marketers should care.


Co-ordinating a large campaign across multiple channels and media outlets used to be time-consuming and difficult. With programmatic buying, you can access inventory across multiple websites and publishers on a single trading platform. This saves you time and money, while allowing you to take advantage of a diverse selection of low-cost and premium advertising inventory. A programmatic buying strategy streamlines the whole campaign process, helping you to improve reach and scalability across display, video, social and mobile.


Most brands’ budgets are under pressure, and senior business leaders want to see return on marketing investment. Programmatic buying is transparent and measurable, helping marketers to demonstrate their accountability and the value they produce.


Once you start investing in programmatic media buying, you can continuously optimise your performance. With each successive campaign, you access richer reporting data and deeper customer insights. You can use this data to keep improving your creative and your placements so that you get better results all the time.

Programmatic also allows brands to experiment with placements that have a low risk and cost. You could buy cheap inventory for a short period of time, and based on performance metrics, see which platforms are delivering the best results.  Best of all, the data you are using to make these decisions is real-time, allowing you to respond rapidly to real-world performance.

Slick technology

Proprietary platforms such as Google’s DoubleClick Bid Manager, offer ad serving and reporting on one interface. A single report can provide a variety of highly valuable insights, such as the influence of paid search and organic search on display. Through a single interface, campaign managers are now able to run highly relevant, responsive and measurable brand campaigns at scale.

Valuable data

Programmatic campaign managers can layer behavioural, contextual and audience data from multiple media buys within the same platform, allowing marketers to better understand their targeted customers.

The net result is that you can target messages with a higher level of relevance to consumers, depending on who they are, their behaviour and where they are in the purchase funnel. This reduces wastage and allows you to reach the right person at the right moment.


In both traditional and online media, budget wasted as a result of cancellation clauses is a major source of frustration for marketers. Since programmatic media buys are real-time and flexible, they don’t attract penalties as a result of cancelling an ad booked months ago.

Cross-device targeting

We all know how important mobile devices are in South Africa’s digital advertising landscape. Programmatic buys cater both for cross-channel users who move between desktops, tablets and phones as well as consumers who only access the Web via a mobile device.

They can target users by device, which can handy for time-of-day strategies and addressing micro-moments . For example, if your restaurant wants to target smartphone users wandering through a shopping mall at dinner time with a message, it can.

Audience data

Access to publisher and network data helps you to reach the right audience from the start. For example, many platforms have detailed data about demographics, such as age and gender, as well as insight into audience behaviour at different times of day or across different devices. Programmatic media buying enables you to start every new campaign empowered with information to help you achieve your objectives.


Programmatic buying platforms give you full control over your spending. You can cap the budget you will allocate as well as the number of people you want to reach. You can set frequency and reach parameters at the optimal levels for your budget.

The risks are low, the potential rewards immense

Programmatic media buying has become an essential part of the online marketing landscape. The risks and barriers to entry are low, and the potential gains significantly high.

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