Programmatic has become a universal buzzword for automated advertising technology. But it’s a blanket term used to describe a lot of digital advertising solutions. What’s more, many still see it as a cookie-based technology that allows publishers to move cheap, remnant inventory quickly and easily.

Sure, some of programmatic advertising still fits into the old definition-and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But publishers with large audiences have been able to leverage the technology for premium, targeted solutions. That has become a game changer for those looking to stretch digital dimes to the max. Of course, for the small or midmarket publisher, programmatic may seem like an exclusive opportunity, but that doesn’t have to be the case.


Matt Spengler, executive director of digital advertising at Rodale, says the company views programmatic in "three main flavors." The first is the open market, where the demand side approaches the publisher looking for a specific audience. Second, is the private exchange, which is extremely targeted and requires more access to open inventory. Third is providing a guaranteed audience to advertisers. Spengler is candid and admits that these three approaches work for Rodale because they can offer scale and quality to advertisers. That said, he believes more opportunities are opening up in niche markets.

"I think there is a baseline of advertisers dipping their toes in," he says. "Those are more DR focused and they are doing a ton of retargeting."

Mike Kisseberth, CRO at Purch, has a somewhat similar philosophy when it comes to premium programmatic. "The people buying programmatic want that scale," he says. "For a premium programmatic deal you want to put together a decent sized buy."

There is another factor at play here for both Purch and Rodale-bundling. Both companies have a family of brands that can be grouped together to increase scale and sweeten the pot for advertisers. Kisseberth says this is a huge advantage for his company, which mostly targets an audience of tech professionals.

That strategy works if you’re a house of brands, but doesn’t offer much help to companies with small or fragmented portfolios.



According to both Spengler and Kisseberth, real-time bidding can be an effective measure for publishers that aren’t tapping into millions of pageviews each month. Spengler says that most of Rodale’s packages are built around premium and guaranteed programs, and the rest usually comes from RTB.

Kisseberth looks at RTB as an opportunity to move every piece of available inventory.

"If I’m a smaller brand and not 100 percent sold out through my direct deals and I have available inventory to offer, then I would open it up to RTB," he says. "That channel is buying separately, so at least you’re monetizing every impression you have. Otherwise, that’s money you’re leaving on the table."

There is one thing to keep in mind, however. Real-time bidding requires a human touch, which means sales professionals will need education to optimize their sales strategies. "I think it will continue to get very complex," Spengler says. "It will get more automated, but it will also require more conversations and human interactions."