Programmatic Advertising 101: A Beginner's Guide for Advertising Sales Reps (Part I)

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For reps who might have only sold traditional print advertising or even newsletter advertising, programmatic ad sales can seem daunting.

There is a lot to learn and the first step is understanding the language of programmatic ad sales.

Traditional Advertising vs. Programmatic Advertising

Before we dive deep into the terminology — and, in our Part II, the concepts — it’s important to understand the basic differences between advertising as we traditionally know it and the world of programmatic advertising.

Traditional advertising, as publishers know it, goes like this: You, the publisher, have quality space to sell. Through already established relationships as well as proactive efforts from both eager advertisers looking to buy as well as your team looking to eagerly sell, those spaces get filled for pre-defined, agreed-upon prices and your audience sees a completed package exactly as you’ve designed it.

Programmatic advertising, at its most basic, provides a variety of ways to automate the proactive efforts mentioned above. With that automation, opportunities abound to provide advertisers, publishers, and audiences only those quality ads that make sense. And with that quality comes ample opportunity for all to profit.

With that inspiration, we present a glossary of programmatic ads terminology to help your ad sales reps get familiar with the terms and concepts that they will have to understand in order to know how to sell programmatic advertising.

The Programmatic Advertising Glossary

Ad exchange

Technological marketplace in which publishers and advertisers participate in real-time auctions (via their SSPs and DSPs, respectively)


Those on the buy-side with products or services they’re looking to advertise. Advertisers buy ad inventory from publishers using DSP.

Agency Trade Desk (ATD or trade desk)

Media buyers who purchase inventory through DSPs on the behalf of others, often adding requisite data in order to reach “specific campaign KPIs

Application Programming Interface (API)

Connects platforms for easier communication. Through the Google Ads API, for instance, developers can access the Google Ads server to carry out programmatic tasks and even create applications.

Audience Segment

The division into markets or demographics based on various criteria

Automated guaranteed (AG)

Type of PMP (not unlike a traditional media buy transaction) in which an advertiser pays a fixed rate for all inventory

Bid response

DSP’s answer in a bidding scenario, usually with a price and creative specs

Bid request

SSP’s signal that there’s an impression for sale, usually with impression details

Brand Safety

A company’s considerations regarding the appropriateness of their brand appearing in or alongside a specific publication or advertiser

Data management platform (DMP)

Software that stores and manages information for buyers and sellers

Deal ID

An assigned number in a private marketplace used to see specific inventories

Demand-side platform (DSP)

Software used by media buyers to buy advertising inventory. Sends automated bids to SSP. Easily integrable to allow targeting and reporting.

Header bidding

Type of auction in which a publisher makes inventory available simultaneously (rather than in waterfall method) to multiple demand sources, via a tag in the page header

Invite-only auction (IOA)

RTB marketplace intended for more exclusive or higher-performing inventory

Pre-bid targeting

Predictive data used in DSPs to ensure bids are only made on inventory that meets set requirements

Preferred deal

A non-guaranteed programmatic deal in which the advertiser has an opportunity (but is not required) to bid at the negotiated price

Private marketplace (PMP or private auction)

Form of programmatic advertising, like RTB with invite-only exclusivity and security, in which publishers give inventory a deal ID and invite specific advertisers to bid


Jounce Media’s The Little Black Book of Private Marketplaces

Programmatic direct

An oft-misused term that essentially covers a range of programmatic forms that, according to Digiday, “take the automation mechanisms that were popularized by RTB and apply them to the typical ad buying process”

Programmatic guaranteed

A programmatic deal in which the negotiated price and terms are reserved for an advertiser (as opposed to the non-guaranteed preferred deal)


Those on the sell-side with ad space to fill. Publishers sell ad inventory to advertisers using an SSP.

Real-time bidding (RTB)

Auction triggered by a user landing on a page. Data is offered on a SSP — the bid request — and the highest price amongst multiple DSP bidders — the bid response — wins, serving the ad on the page almost instantly.

Supply-side platform (SSP)

Software used by publishers to sell advertising inventory. Receives bids from DSP and automates the sale. Easily integrable to allow a minimum bid (or price floor).

Unreserved fixed rate (UFR)

Type of PMP in which a publisher sets a fixed price on inventory via SSP, then a DSP (evaluating its own first- and third-party data against that inventory) chooses to buy or pass

Walled gardens

Media companies such as Google who have their own media buying platforms (in this case, Google Ads) through which advertisers can carry out campaigns. Media companies without their own buying platforms would utilize a SSP.


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