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  • June 3, 2015
  • 4 minute read

Not All Programmatic is Created Equal: Why Premium Programmatic Matters

Premium Programmatic

The evolution of our digital landscape demands that today’s marketers be “more.” More efficient. More effective. More creative. These are just some of the challenges we face in our effort to capture the attention of our audiences and deliver messages that resonate. And this need to be “more” isn’t going away anytime soon.

Our industry currently regards programmatic as a highly effective media solution to achieve “more” — more relevant brand messaging with scalable audiences. Applying audience insights in real-time allows brands to deliver their messages to the right people, in the right context and at the right time. Right?


As budgets pour into ad exchanges for standard placements, some marketers are realizing that buying across Open Ad Exchanges doesn’t meet all their requirements. Issues of ad fraud, ads running in dark corners of the internet (undesirable brand environments), and unverified data have been uncovered — which is why, with the ever-increasing demand for “more,” the concept of “Premium Programmatic” has been evolving. Let’s take a look at how this concept is taking shape.

What are Ad Exchanges…Really?

There are two different ways to buy programmatic ads and fully optimize the capability and impact of your advertisement: Open and Private (or what I call, “Premium Programmatic”) Exchanges. A programmatic buy on an Open Exchange allows for massive reach and lower-cost CPMs, but it’s a blurry environment where advertisers can’t ensure who is viewing their ad and where it’s being placed — whether it’s in a viewable environment, an environment that makes sense contextually or an environment that is brand-desirable.

Open Exchange: Buying through an Open Exchange appears seamless: buyers only need a demand-side platform (“DSP”) that is connected to multiple ad exchanges, and the advertiser is ready to start bidding across thousands of publishers. The quantity of options seems unlimited, and the inventory is inexpensive. As with most things that seem too good to be true, the quality of inventory can be suspect. For this reason, quality publishers with quality audiences are hesitant to list their inventory in these Open Exchanges. Although it’s easy to get campaigns initially set up, there is often lots of room for optimization and the end result may be unsatisfying.

Private Exchange / Premium Programmatic: For marketers that want to ensure their ads are running in high quality, brand-safe environments (and also want to take advantage of seamless media buying), the answer is to leverage a Private Exchange. Instead of getting access to thousands of publishers through a single connection to an ad exchange, a marketer will connect directly with publishers whose inventory is available through a specific private agreement. To get set up, the publisher and marketer will establish ground rules for the partnership, such as price floor and what data will be leveraged. Once the ground rules are established, the campaign can be activated through Deal IDs, which serve as the trusted connection between buyer and seller. Efficiency is now in place for the marketer without sacrificing quality.

How is Targeting Different?

Programmatic buys provide an enhanced method to target and immediately reach consumers with timely and relevant messaging — whether your marketing objectives are to build awareness, drive purchase intent or build brand loyalists. So how does this advantage differ between Open and Private Exchanges?

Open Exchange: Buyers have the option to either leverage their own data, data provided by a publisher or data provided by a 3rd party. Data has been the fuel behind the advancements in programmatic buying, but not all data carries the same value. The majority of marketers have trust in their own data and the data from trusted publisher partners, but with Open Exchanges marketers are often not able to utilize publisher data. This means advertisers may be missing out on valuable insights that could better inform how they engage with a target audience. As marketers, we have to ask ourselves, does commoditized 3rd party data carry the same weight?

Private Exchange / Premium Programmatic: When buyers engage with publishers directly to set up Private Exchanges, publishers are typically more willing to enhance campaigns with their own data. In addition, publishers can open up inventory options to their partners that they wouldn’t make available in an Open Exchange. This is advantageous for the publisher and the advertiser, creating an environment where the true targeting potential of programmatic is realized. This is when targeting and inventory becomes “Premium,” as deals are transacted in private, creating partnerships that work for both parties.

Buyer Beware: Make Sure You Know What You’re Buying

You want to buy programmatic from a respected partner, who you know and trust to deliver the intended audiences and the best environment to build equity for your brand. Programmatic media buying hinges on data integrity. The pros and cons of buying programmatic via Open versus Private Exchanges should be examined carefully.

A Premium Programmatic partner will ensure your campaign is running on quality inventory, in a brand-safe environment, that is backed by trusted data. Make sure you’re asking the right questions before tuning into programmatic media buying.

— Jeremy Randol, Vice President, Programmatic Sales Strategy

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