Programmatic Guaranteed: What is it and how to make use of it

With programmatic digital advertising on the rise in the last few years, the opportunities for publishers and advertisers alike are getting more and more robust. There are several types of deals that fall under the “Programmatic Direct” deal type: programmatic guaranteed, preferred deals, and private auctions. In this article, we will be unfolding the ins and outs of Programmatic Guaranteed.

What is Programmatic Guaranteed?

Programmatic Guaranteed is an attractive type of campaign to both publishers and advertisers. The sellers get a guaranteed revenue stream, whereas the buyers lock in the exact audience they want to reach. Both sides get predictable results from the deal and mitigate uncertainty.

Programmatic Guaranteed allows publishers to negotiate with a buyer the price and terms for specific inventory that would be reserved only for that buyer at a fixed price. Audience targeting happens through device ID or cookies and advertisers get a very precise match to what they are looking for. The deal includes impression volumes and price, frequency capping, what ad sizes and formats will be used, as well as the campaign timeframe. All of this is coded into the Deal ID and handled fully automatically (this is why Programmatic Guaranteed is often confused with Automated Guaranteed, which, however, does not use Deal ID, but rather displays the ads via an ad server API). For Programmatic Guaranteed to work, publisher and buyer Data Management Platforms (DMPs) need to first sync. This allows advertisers to find the right audience and then offer a guaranteed price for a specific volume of impressions. Once this one-on-one direct deal is agreed upon, the activation of deal parameters is handled by the SSP. 

How to set a Programmatic Guaranteed deal in Google Ad Manager?

The process of setting up a Programmatic Guaranteed deal can be initiated by both the publisher via a proposal and the buyer – via a request for proposal. Let’s go through it from the publisher’s side. Your Google Ad Manager (GAM) account needs to be connected to Google Ad Exchange.

  1. Go to Admin > Global settings > Features and activate Programmatic Direct.
  2. Go to Sales > Deal settings and set up your publisher profile with information about your website/app. Add a message to buyers to introduce your brand and give reasons why advertisers should choose your inventory.

Within Deal settings, you can also change your ‘buyer visibility’ to your preferred state – whether you want all buyers to be able to make offers to you (recommended), or you want to limit them in some way.

  1. Go to Admin > Access & authorization > Roles and give “Manage sales” permissions to an existing or new user, so that they can view or edit proposals. 
  2. Go to Admin > Global settings and set up the inventory types (display, mobile in-app, video) that you want sales representatives to be able to specify when negotiating proposals. You can add inventory types by linking your Ad Exchange property. You can also link multiple Ad Exchange accounts that are dedicated to different inventory types.
  3. Next, it’s time to set up your proposal(s). Go to Sales > Proposals > Add new proposal. Here, you should add the details for the deal, including the advertiser, buyer, and the name of the proposal.
  4. Next, create a Proposal line item. These line items are similar to regular line items in GAM, but belong to a specific proposal and have a few extra features to facilitate the programmatic transactions. 
  5. Negotiation time. Both the publisher and the buyer can modify the proposal and send it for review back and forth until you reach an agreement. 
  6. Finalize deal. Once you are both happy with the terms, the publisher can Request acceptance and the buyer can accept the proposal to seal the deal. It’s best practice to have at least 24 hours from acceptance to the start of the deal line item to ensure there are no delays in ad serving. 

What’s in it for the publishers?

Predictable revenue. Publishers get to secure premium rates for their inventory and fill it with relevant ads. 

Less time and effort. Programmatic guaranteed is executed fully automatically and eliminates the burden of many manual tasks typical for traditional direct deals, such as IO creation, data entry, exchanging tags, handling creatives, etc. 

Transparency and better relationship with advertisers.  Publishers get to choose the advertisers for this one-on-one type of deal and therefore have better control over the ad content being suitable to their audience. They have the opportunity to gain advertisers’ trust as buyers can see the publisher’s full inventory and get better value for their money by choosing the relevant audience.

Wrap up

Programmatic Guaranteed requires quite the effort, especially in the beginning. To be able to utilize it, you need to start with building an audience that attracts quality advertisers and making the connection with them. Technical implementation might also bring some challenges along the way, as syncing DMPs is probably something you haven’t dealt with before. However, once you build those relationships and run a couple of deals, the results won’t disappoint. The automated process will indeed save you a lot of time and effort after those first setup attempts, and the locked-in premium revenue brings security and predictability that is hard to beat.