Pay per click

Programmatic advertising:
How exactly does it work?

RTB, SSP, DSP, Ad Server…programmatic advertising seems to generate a multitude of complicated terms. Let’s try and decipher some of them together.

In a nutshell, programmatic advertising involves using software to bid in real time (RTB, Real Time Bidding) for advertising spaces based on data, so the ad is as relevant as possible for the target audience.

RTB programmatic advertising: a concrete example

Imagine I have a small e-commerce and I want to advertise online. I’ve prepared a brief with my budget and key visual, but I don’t have as much time or expertise as my favourite agency (guess who?), so I ask them to implement my campaign for me. As well as helping to decide the best strategy and implement it correctly, they also optimise and analyse the results using precise tracking. 

When the campaign is launched, the software creates real-time bids (remember the RTB I mention earlier). These bid requests are sent to the DSP, Demand Side Platform. This is where buyers decide the best price for the bid according to specific campaign criteria like audience and geographical area. 

And, then the battle really gets going! Bid requests from different DSP are sent, via the Supply Side Platform, to publishers who might want to display the ad. 

Depending on the publisher’s requirements, the SSP chooses the most appropriate ad from all those send by the DSP.


Once the winning bid has been chosen, a signal is sent to the DSP to collect the ad visual and other key elements, which are then displayed on the publisher’s site.   

A top tip for your bid requests? The more detailed the information about the placement and audience, the greater the chances of winning. So, take your time and prepare those little bits of code with care. 

The final step? The publisher pockets their earnings, and I cross my fingers hoping that my campaign has generated lots of conversions.


Let’s take a closer look in images:


Programmatic advertising: who is it for?

This system is ideal for publishers who want to monetise their website with high-quality ads in line with their content and audience. 

It is, of course, also great for advertisers who want to target their audiences with maximum precision, while optimising their media budget. 

Sound tempting?

Whether you’re an advertiser or publisher, discover our programmatic and retargeting offer.

Other articles

you may like (or not)

Show me more