Pros and Cons of Programmatic Advertising

Programmatic Mobile: Advertising Gone Automated

by | Mar 18, 2015

Automation. That’s the word you need to know when attempting to understand programmatic mobile advertising. It’s still just ad buying – only done by computers.

“Programmatic” has easily become one of the most controversial examples of industry jargon to make its home in the larger digital marketing landscape.

It’s no secret why.

Programmatic technology stands to dramatically change the way in which digital media is bought and sold. It promises efficiency, it promises profit, but brings with it a host of questions and uncertainty – much of it due to a simple lack of understanding.

Don’t worry. That’s why we’re here.

The following pro and con list will break it all down, allowing you to better understand what programmatic advertising offers and what it doesn’t.

First, what is programmatic advertising?

Before we begin, it might help to have a brief primer explain what exactly programmatic advertising is.

Programmatic ad buying is simply ad buying carried out by machines or, more specifically, pieces of software. Platforms use data gleaned from sophisticated consumer tracking systems to determine which ads to place where to (theoretically) serve the best impression to the most ideal consumer.

Simply put, all ad buying decisions are made by automated, data-fueled computers.

Now on to the pros and cons…

The Pros


Programmatic advertising makes its money (literally) by being efficient. Traditionally, ads were bought and sold by human beings. As we well know, humans can be slow, costly and prone to error, especially in comparison with their computerized counterparts.

Not so with programmatic buying.

Programmatic technology eliminates the need for humans to complete the more menial tasks required to buy and sell advertisements. No lengthy negotiations. No bureaucratic nonsense. Instead, all of it is automated, allowing us humans to do what we really want to spend our time doing anyway: developing creative campaigns and marketing solutions.


More often than not, programmatic advertising is going to save you money. With so many potential publishers with available ad space, programmatic buying allows advertisers to quickly find the best-suited, optimal location to display their ads. Again, this frees up more time to concentrate on activities that more deserve our attention. As the old saying goes, time is money.

Mobile Synchronization

Perhaps more than any other medium, programmatic buying synchs beautifully with mobile advertising. Why? Because it effectively pairs cutting edge data analytics with the ability to reach simultaneously a very wide yet targeted mobile audience. Marketing campaigns can now be optimized to contour to each individual user’s identity and consumer habits.

It’s the Future

Whether you like it or not, programmatic advertising is growing exponentially. According to the Programmatic Pulse report, a joint study by Chango and Brand Innovators of the programmatic activity of 232 marketers in the US, UK and Canada, 70 percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that a majority of digital media buying will be done programmatically in the future.

In short, programmatic advertising is happening and it’s happening fast, with mobile being one of the chief drivers of growth. There’s no way we can fully comprehend what further benefits and innovations it could generate. All the better to hop on now rather than risk getting left behind.

The Cons

Ad Fraud

This is a big one. Ad fraud is one of if not the greatest issue facing digital advertising as we head deeper into 2015. So much so, we dedicated one of our own platforms to help fight it.

False impressions created by nefarious bots have the potential to completely wreck any campaign-derived metrics. Due to programmatic automation, these bots have a greater chance of maneuvering within the digital ecosystem undetected.

“Wrong-Site Whoops”

Due to automation, there is a possibility that your ad could be displayed on a site you’d rather it not. While it’s possible that this occurrence could drive short-term business, a long-term hit to your brand’s reputation would be a price not worth paying.

No People

As much as we gripe and groan, the human mind is actually really useful. With fully automated programmatic buying, we lose some ability to comb over the finer details with a proper human-like finesse. It’s a small price to pay, but does make perfecting marketing strategy more laborious.

Also, less people involved means less jobs, which is always something to consider.

The Unknown

For every promising future there exists a perilous unknown. Although programmatic advertising has indeed been deemed “promising” by many industry experts, there’s always exists some doubt lying in the weeds.  Troubling questions have yet to be answered.

How sophisticated will ad fraudsters become? Could the advertiser-publisher relationship become one-sided? Can we trust computers to automate all of our ad purchases? Will the robots rise up and enslave us?

(The last one isn’t really a concern. At least, not yet.)

Overall, it’s a complex and constantly-evolving ecosystem. Eventually, we’ll begin to find answers to these questions. Hopefully, we like what we find.