When people think ‘advertising’, the first thing that comes to mind is ‘creative’, and it is true that the industry has long been the domain of creatives. However, with the recent boom in digital media, the spotlight is now being shared by the technological players that make it all possible.  

What we are witnessing is a steady movement towards automation. Human contact is taken out of the equation, as companies are increasingly turning to automated, or, programmatic, buying. And it is not difficult to see why. Programmatic buying makes the buying and selling process much more efficient. The fact that it is supplemented with data also makes it more effective: it’s hard to contradict numbers.

In fact, let’s start you off with some figures.

According to the IAB (Internet Advertising Bureau), programmatic amounted to £960m of UK ad expenditure in 2014, 45% of the total online and mobile display. This is estimated to rise substantially to 70-80% by 2018

With programmatic buying set to take centre stage, it is incredibly important to dispel the enigma that surrounds it. Our aim is to explain all the jargon that is often thrown around by people in the industry.

One of the main players in programmatic buying is the trading desk. A Trading Desk (TD) is a service committed to helping advertisers and agencies buy online advertising. This is done through real-time bidding (RTB), enhanced with data. The main premise is to optimise advertising budgets by reaching a large audience at a low price across different devices like mobile and desktops. Compared with non-programmatic methods, the audience reached is far more precise.


Contrary to popular belief, ‘RTB’ and ‘programmatic’ are not one and the same thing. ‘Programmatic’ is the overall strategy; RTB is only one part of programmatic, solely a method of execution.  

So, what exactly is RTB?

Plainly speaking, RTB is the buying and selling of online advertising space through real-time auctions that occur in the time it takes a user to load a webpage.

How does it work?

When a webpage is loading, information about the user is passed to an ad exchange, which auctions it off to the advertiser willing to pay the highest price for it. The result? The winning bidder’s ad is loaded into the webpage almost instantly.   

In the age of digital advertising, data is the main source of competitive advantage. The boom in technology has made it easier to collect and access data about consumers. Analysis of this data reveals valuable consumer insights that allow marketers to deliver relevant and high-impact messages to their desired audience.

This means that data is the backbone of all decision-making.

But what is data?

Simply put, data refers to the figures and statistics that have been collated for analysis. The issue is just how much data there is. Big data refers to amounts of data that are so vast that the only way to fully analyse such data is with machine-based systems and technologies.


Here’s the main takeaway: It’s not just about being creative. Evidently, in today’s advertising world, data-driven marketing is becoming far more important. Data is a big part of programmatic, which enables advertisers to reach the people who are genuinely interested in what they have to offer. No matter how unique and innovative an ad campaign is, there is no guarantee that it is being seen by the right people. At the Media Trader, we are a disruptive force in the world of digital trading. We aim to help our clients to implement programmatic, providing a solution to the complexity of this new form of ad buying.