Wven though self serve programmatic advertising has been around for a decade or more, this market niche saw a surge of popularity and became mainstream just a few years ago. Like the majority of other programmatic solutions and technologies, the self-service model has emerged as a way to satisfy a need. Specifically, the rise of self serve programmatic advertising is attributed to the needs of advertisers who were looking for ways to perform digital media buying with greater transparency amid reports about extremely high rates of ad fraud in the industry.
Programmatic advertising and the transparency issues
Advertisers started raising the issue of the lack of transparency in the industry on a massive scale in 2017, complaining about the lack of visibility in the bidding process, undisclosed fees, various brand safety issues, etc.
And these complaints were not unreasonable. According to a research conducted by White Ops anti-fraud vendor and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) advertising trade group, in 2017 advertisers lost $6.5 bln because of ad fraud. In 2019, due to industry innovations such as self serve programmatic advertising platforms, this number was reduced to $5.8 bln. A study by Juniper Research, on the other hand, paints a much darker picture, estimating that advertisers lost around $42 bln of ad expenses across online, mobile and in-app channels in 2019. This firm also projects that in 2023 yearly losses will reach the $100 bln mark.
Calculations aside, this should well explain the underlying reasons for rapid growth of self serve programmatic advertising. And since this term is still quite new and relatively unknown, we decided it would be a good idea to make a short guide for publishers, explaining this field of programmatic advertising technologies in more detail.
What is self serve programmatic advertising?
Let’s begin by actually defining self serve programmatic advertising. This term refers to pretty much any platform or programmatic solution designed for advertisers or publishers or both, that is based on a self-serve approach. For advertisers, such a model allows them to establish ad campaigns and purchase ads without directly interacting with publishers or ad sales brokers of any kind. From a publisher’s perspective, the self serve programmatic advertising model means that they can put out their ad inventories and sell ad placements without having to interact with brands, ad agencies or other brokers.
Self serve programmatic advertising is primarily an advertiser-focused term. And it is applicable for most of the platforms that allow advertisers to specify the details of their campaigns, including budgets, target audiences and locations, running their ads independently.
Self serve programmatic advertising platforms vs SSPs and DSPs
That being said, however, we should note that it would be a mistake to regard all SSPs (supply-side platforms) and DSPs (demand-side platforms) as self serve programmatic advertising solutions. Even though it is quite typical for self serve platforms to provide users with programmatic solutions functionality as well, not all programmatic tools are self-serve. Many SSPs and DSPs are in fact combinations of ad networks and ad exchanges tied together on one technological platform with separate view modes for publishers and advertisers. So they can’t be regarded as self serve programmatic advertising platforms.
The most popular examples of fully self serve programmatic advertising platforms would be Google Ads (context advertising service by Google formerly known as AdWords), Facebook Ads (the platform allows any Facebook user to advertise on this social network), LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, Twitter Ads, YouTube and other social media services with own advertising platforms. As well as many big eCommerce platforms that have the same functionality, allowing customers to advertise to their audience. Such platforms are Amazon, Yelp, eBay, Expedia and others. Search engine context advertising solutions similar to Google Ads, such as the ones run by Yahoo and Bing, can also be a good example of self serve programmatic advertising solutions.
Benefits of self serve programmatic advertising
Now, after we defined self serve programmatic advertising solutions and learnt what role they play in the programmatic industry, let’s look at some of the most crucial benefits of this model. Primarily, from the publisher’s perspective.
Time-efficiency and minimized costs
One of the most important benefits of self serve programmatic advertising solutions is that they save time and minimize costs both for publishers and advertisers. With this model, publishers don’t need to allocate much time on setting up their ad inventories and running ad sales.
Self serve programmatic advertising models give more control over the ad sales process to publishers (as well as advertisers). They are able to customize various aspects of their ad inventory sales, including black-listing undesirable advertisers and changing the location of ad placements on the webpage.
Low transparency was the original pain point mainly felt by advertisers. Higher transparency and the access to user targeting information and statistical data, however, can be an important advantage for web publishers too.
Source of bid competition
Another major benefit for publishers is that self serve programmatic advertising platforms are able to provide a great source of bid competition from advertisers. Utilizing several demand sources like that allows publishers to increase bid competition for their ad inventory, ultimately resulting in higher ad revenues.
Highly automated solution
Lastly, self serve programmatic advertising platforms are by definition highly automated solutions. This is especially beneficial for publishers as it allows you to have an ad revenue source that requires minimum changes and supervision once it is set up.
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