Programmatic vs. RTB - are they similar or different?

Programmatic vs RTB

There are different trendy words we can see in each area. They are programmatic and rtb for advertising. The problem is that they are often rendered as the same idea that is just partially true.

Today we are going to stop this mess and clarify what is hidden behind each notion. Besides, in our short article you will learn how you can benefit of the trends.

Let’s revise how it used to be

When advertising was just appearing, main ideas were as follows:

Direct advertising

Publishers and advertisers were reaching and discussing all possible opportunities for collaboration directly. Publishers were in winning position as they could take all money from advertising in their pockets. This method is still applicable for websites with huge audiences like The Times or Forbes, small business can also adopt it in case your niche is too specific or currently you don’t have a lot of money for promotion.

Advertising networks

Internet has brought globalization to our houses and the businesses had to run faster and traditional methods couldn’t satisfy all necessities. As a result, advertising networks appeared where all you need to do is to create your account, specify your marketing role and set the details for the campaign you are going to have. The process was to start immediately. Main problem was fraud from both sides: fake clicks, loads and all that stuff. Absence of transparency was probably the main reason for appearing a new technology that is conquering the markets.

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Let’s see what it is about.

Programmatic media buying

This process of purchasing of digital ad inventory (media ads, videos, banners) with the help of special automated programmatic software that was created due to complex mathematical algorithms and end buyers preferences.

There are two main variants of realizations:

Real Time Bidding Programmatic advertising

It generally looks like traditional auction like Sotheby’s or Christies. Publishers and advertisers are immediately informed every time a visitor enters website linked to the auction. Everybody sees the qualities of a potential display like age, location, marital status, hobbies and others. This information helps to understand how valuable the display can be for brands. Advertisers bet and the winner is allowed to show his advertisement. The process takes just mere seconds while the page is loaded and starts again with every new visitor.

Programmatic Direct

This technology doesn’t imply betting. Brand and publisher contact each other for the amount and/or period of displays and programmatic is used to close the transaction. Mind that the treatment of relevancy is also kept here.

As you can see, if we counterpose programmatic vs rtb we can see that programmatic is a technology, while RTB is a variant of realization. To have simple examples, it can be explained something like this way: we have a whole class of cars (programmatic) while Bentley and Ford are also cars, but they represent the type of cars, the way RTB and programmatic direct do.

What is the reason of buzz around programmatic ads?

As we have said before, main reason is transparency. The same as bitcoin, everybody can see what happens and what each cent spent for.

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In addition to that, advertising becomes more personalized for the clients. That leads to less annoyance and more positive treatment of the companies themselves. Just think, we are ignorant about the scope of the ads we see daily as they are unlikely to meet our interests. The reason is that traditional advertising via ad networks supposes just approximate meeting of interests and needs of visitors. For example, women in their early thirties are very likely to be shown ads about baby food or something connected with family and common interest at these ages.

RTB and direct programmatic ads offer that content that is relevant to each user directly. Such advertising turns out to be useful and gets higher CTR’s than traditional messages.

We are not ready to say that programmatic networks will displace the competitor. A fusion is more likely to be and it is exactly is happening now, as both approaches are adopting best features from each other to offer even best experiences.


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