Programmatic is a term that’s used frequently by digital marketers, but there is still a lot of confusion around how to differentiate one programmatic solution from another, specifically as it relates to digital video. Video DSPs, Ad Networks, linear TV providers, individual publishers, and many others in between all tout programmatic video capabilities in a marketplace where there appears to be little consensus on what the term “programmatic” even means. To be clear, IAB defines programmatic very simply: the automated buying and selling of inventory.
Much of the confusion stems from thinking about automation within a simple “yes” or “no” dichotomy. The reality is that there are many distinct processes within buying and selling workflows that can and cannot be automated, specifically as it relates to targeting, forecasting, transacting, delivery of creative assets, and reporting. The degree to which these can be automated is largely a function of the channels within which the video inventory is being sourced (desktop, mobile, OTT, Linear TV) as well as the technical infrastructures upon which they’re being monetized (reserved inventory prioritization within an ad server, network-based monetization via tags or SDKs, or exchange-based monetization which, for the purposes of this report, refers to both DSPs and SSPs). Data has always been vital for the buying and selling of advertising: to inform rates, media plans, and delivery calculations. Today, the accelerating rate of automation is a function of channels and technical infrastructures that directly impact not only the amount but also the granularity, diversity, and real-time actionability of data that can be applied to the buying and selling of video inventory, so it can truly be said that data is the fuel for automation.
In order to effectively evaluate programmatic video solutions and the relative value they provide, industry practitioners need to first decouple the targeting, forecasting, transaction, creative delivery, and reporting functions from the broader offering and evaluate them individually. Given that these platforms and technical infrastructures evolve rapidly with shifting media consumption patterns and ad technology solutions, the goal of this document is to provide buyers and sellers with a framework to help them evaluate these features and functionalities during partner evaluation.