This may seem premature. But I’m wondering if you’re confused yet. Good. So am I.

Since I’m in the marketing and advertising businesses, at least to a certain extent, I’m always curious (Wow! What’s that?), intrigued (Hey! That’s cool!), and a tad anxious (Whoa! How come I don’t know about that?) when some new term comes floating into my consciousness as if it were supposed to have been there all along. Enter programmatic advertising.

An apparent extension of inbound marketing and marketing automation, I stumbled on programmatic advertising here: “Programmatic Ads Are An Underused Marketing Opportunity“. Of course they are:

B2B marketers using programmatic advertising found it to be a more effective lead generation tactic than email or organic social media, and equally as effective as in-person events and search.

Hmm. Now that’s the kind of bait that’s likely to have me rising to the hook in no time. So, I went in search of a programmatic advertising and found this: “WTF is programmatic advertising?” I couldn’t have asked it better myself. As it turns out:

“Programmatic” ad buying typically refers to the use of software to purchase digital advertising, as opposed to the traditional process that involves RFPs, human negotiations and manual insertion orders. It’s using machines to buy ads, basically.

Typically and basically. Okay. I can explore the nuances later, I suppose. But for now, it seems programmatic advertising employs algorithmic programs (ah, ha!) to read the data from marketing-automation software and uses said data to automate the acquisition of advertising media intended to appeal to the personae marketing automation software uses as proxies for target customers. (No human negotiation for us, by gum.) What could go wrong?

For openers, this contradiction may be a pretty good indication:

Programmatic technology will probably mean there are fewer ad buyers in the world, but … some major brands have even built out in-house teams to handle their programmatic ad buying.

If you can make A (software that purchases digital advertising ) + B (software that replaces human negotiations and manual insertion orders) = C (the building of in-house teams to handle programmatic ad buying), you’re likely a prime candidate for programmatic advertising.

If you find the contradictions of programmatic advertising confusing, trust your instincts.

Image by Pezibear, courtesy of