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October 19 2015

What is Programmatic Guaranteed?

Why should you read this article?

Why read this article? Because most people don't know the real definition of programmatic guaranteed.
Marine Desoutter

Ad tech companies are always innovating, and new terms appear almost every day to describe concepts and products. It can be confusing sometimes.

Recently at Smart AdServer, we debated about the usage of the term programmatic guaranteed. We still had divergent opinions, even after reading the IAB definition and a host of articles written by ad tech players. So, we thought it would be interesting to share our point of view about this buying method.

The IAB definition of programmatic guaranteed (also called automated guaranteed, programmatic direct, programmatic premium, and programmatic reserved)

The IAB defines programmatic guaranteed as an automatic one seller-one buyer transaction with fixed pricing and reserved inventory.

programmatic guaranteed

The problem with this definition is that it doesn’t define the operating mode, which is not the same in all cases. That’s why we’ve decided it’s necessary to define two types programmatic guaranteed.

Programmatic guaranteed via the Deal ID

This type of programmatic guaranteed takes place in the context of OpenRTB and can be called a guaranteed deal. Publishers and buyers negotiate a fixed price for reserved inventory. The publisher links a deal to reserved inventory in the RTB platform.  The publisher has a complete view of what he sold directly through the traditional ad server and programmatic performances. That’s why this solution can only be implemented in a holistic platform like Smart RTB+.

We can call this the “first level” of programmatic guaranteed because the transaction is processed with a solution that was initially designed for real-time bidding, but which has been pushed to its limits to support “direct sales”.

Programmatic guaranteed via the API of a publisher’s ad server

The ad tech market has seen the emergence of new mechanisms specially designed to automate direct sales through the API of publisher ad servers. IAB members set a standard: OpenDirect, in order to standardize these API and accelerate the development of these technologies. Publishers can then package and market their inventories with guaranteed volume.

Within a buying interface, buyers can directly access publishers packaged inventories. It’s a lot like an e-commerce website; buyers can search and filter throughout publishers offers according to their desired criteria: site, format, device, targeting, pricing, etc. They can then benefit from publishers ad server capabilities to check available inventory, send booking request, traffick the campaign and access reports, all that from a single interface.On their side, publishers can accept or refuse booking requests, validate creative files and even propose discounted price. They keep control on their inventory while leveraging additional sales.

On their side, publishers can accept or refuse booking requests, validate creative files and even propose discounted price. They keep control of their inventory while leveraging additional sales.

What are the advantages?

The primary purpose of these technologies is to automate direct sales. It brings maximum flexibility and operational efficiency, so it enables publishers and media buyers to save time and money.

But even if buyers and sellers have adopted programmatic technologies, direct sales remain essential. These two types of programmatic guaranteed are complementary and bring relevant answers to different needs. What’s important now is that ad tech players improve and standardize the solutions to ease interactions.

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