By Alaina Greco6/6/2023

Programmatic buying: The high-tech, data-driven way to manage ad buys in real time — and drive business results

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Gone are the days when advertisers had to rely on a tedious process of negotiating deals with individual account reps channel by channel, committing to ad buys, and waiting for days to receive data. Now, in a new age of high-tech, data-driven advertising, programmatic buying has emerged as the most strategic and effective solution for savvy marketers to beat the competition and drive business results.

Through programmatic buying, advertisers can buy placements in real time through a central, automated platform that can purchase ad time across various channels, networks, and websites. They get real-time results showing exactly what’s working and what’s not. And they have the ability to shift budget on the fly and maximize ROI in ways not possible before.

As a top 100 independent agency, Brunner is at the forefront of programmatic buying to deliver maximum impact for clients.

“We’re not sitting still. We’re agile and we’re moving forward — and we’re trying to move this industry forward,” said Brunner partner Kevin Amos, who oversees the agency’s Digital Performance Marketing team. “It’s not just ‘buy it, forget it and set it.’ We chase these audiences across wherever we need to chase them. We have the tools, we find the audience, and we have the results.”

What is Programmatic Buying?

Put simply, programmatic buying is the buying and selling of ads in real time through an automated system. These systems, called demand-side-platforms, or DSPs, allow advertisers to place ads across a number of platforms.

“We’re not sitting still. We’re agile and we’re moving forward — and we’re trying to move this industry forward.”

Kevin Amos, Partner, Digital Media

Programmatic buying took hold in 2013 and has since grown into an essential part of today’s marketing mix for advertisers. In 2021, the United States was the world’s largest programmatic advertising market worldwide at an estimated $167 billion USD, followed by China at $109.5 billion USD and the United Kingdom with $24 billion USD, according to Statista, which projected global programmatic buying to reach $493 billion USD by 2022.

Brunner clients are contributing to that growth in programmatic buying. For example:

  • The Home Depot Rental saw such a significant impact after their first programmatic test that they have increased budget every year.
  • Mitsubishi Electric tried a programmatic buying test for streaming television and saw a 300% lift in branded search traffic after the first campaign. Since then, Mitsubishi Electric has increased their programmatic spend 13-fold.

How Does Programmatic Buying Work?

Programmatic buying gives advertisers greater control over media spending by enabling automatic bidding through the DSPs, which can access multiple publishers simultaneously. The bidding process involves a chain of auctions, with the highest bid securing the top ad placement. Numerous DSPs are available, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. Brunner primarily utilizes OneView (which is operated by Roku) along with Google and TradeDesk. The agency manages millions of dollars in client ad spending every month.

“Programmatic buying puts full control in our hands and allows us to manage every bit of those media dollars vs. having to bring in third parties and manually do buys through them,” explained Rachel Rock, Channel Marketing senior manager. “An average buy that we do programmatically and launch within two business days would typically have taken anywhere from 2-3 weeks to go live previously.”

“Programmatic buying puts full control in our hands and allows us to manage every bit of those media dollars.

Rachel Rock, Channel Marketing senior manager

“At TradeDesk, for example, we have a team of six that are working with us from all aspects — from API, from reporting, from optimization.”

Ryan Bopp, associate director of Channel Marketing

Brunner’s Digital Performance Marketing team has built strong relationships with the top DSPs in order to deliver the best results for clients. Those relationships mean focused attention from DSP teams for Brunner accounts, said Ryan Bopp, Brunner’s associate director of Channel Marketing.

“At TradeDesk, for example, we have a team of six that are working with us from all aspects — from API, from reporting, from optimization,” Bopp explained. Smaller agencies and individual companies can’t get the same level of focused service on their own.

In addition to dedicated support for Brunner clients, those strong relationships give the Brunner team an influential voice for sharing input with the DSP teams about how they’re developing their platforms, providing feedback about platform performance, and requesting product or functional improvements.

Benefits of Programmatic Buying

We like to say at Brunner that programmatic buying pushes ads to the right eyeballs at the right time with the right message. Here are the key benefits for advertisers:

  • Efficiency: Programmatic buying helps spend media dollars more efficiently and saves time. With real-time bidding, advertisers can connect with multiple publishers at once, speeding up the process and ultimately placing ads in the right place, faster and with certainty.
  • Audience Targeting: Programmatic buying is essentially people-based marketing. Through strategic targeting, advertisers are “buying” access to the person who may be on the website, channel or platform — but they are not buying time on the specific platform. Programmatic allows advertisers to follow their target audiences across multiple channels and tracks audience behavior, including when and how that audience is engaging.
  • Data Driven Insights: A huge benefit of programmatic buying is real-time tracking, which provides comprehensive data in real time. That allows advertisers to identify opportunities and pivot quickly if needed. Previously, advertisers had to wait for the data to be provided when the ad buy ended.
  • Transparency: In traditional direct buys, advertisers could not see if the ad inventory was performing until after the campaign was over. Once you made the ad buy, you were stuck with it, even if it wasn’t driving the activity that you needed. With programmatic buying, advertisers can see all data in real time and optimize it in real time. That means advertisers can change where, when, to whom and how often ads are served — and how much they want to pay for it. Programmatic advertising offers complete transparency in campaign performance, allowing advertisers to adjust their strategy promptly.

Programmatic Buying: The Brunner Difference

Our motto at Brunner is simple: Test. Learn. Optimize.

At the start of a new client relationship, the Brunner team runs a test campaign to show each client the impact programmatic buying can deliver. Many Brunner clients have seen such a significant impact from programmatic buying campaigns that they have increased their media spend going forward, and not just for the channels tested. Often, clients see a significant lift not only in OTT (over the top streaming TV) and CTV but also across other channels, including SEO and paid search.

The Brunner team continuously strives to ensure we’re using the most efficient, versatile, and cost-effective tools and platforms for our clients. As DSPs evolve, we constantly assess and experiment with alternative options, so we can deliver exceptional outcomes for each client. Every insight we learn — from potential pitfalls to the best tips and tricks — allows the Brunner team to apply those insights to every other campaign, across all our clients.

If you’d like to learn what programmatic buying can do for your advertising efforts, we’d love to chat.

Alaina Greco is an SEO specialist at Brunner, where she effectively supports multiple clients in achieving their online visibility goals through comprehensive SEO reports and tracking. With a degree in marketing and international business from Duquesne University, Alaina brings a comprehensive understanding of the digital landscape to her role.