Programmatic Guaranteed Buys Helping Otherwise Slow 2023 Start (Report)

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Recent Digiday reports have 2023 starting slow for both direct and programmatic ad sales. At the same time, however, some media executives are telling Digiday that they see promise in programmatic direct deals that can “make up for the shortfalls.”

Speaking to anonymous publishing execs, Digiday shared stories of programmatic guaranteed buys and their resulting RPMs all on the rise.

But first, an explanation. 

As I wrote in our Magazine Manager programmatic advertising primer, a programmatic guaranteed deal is one in which the negotiated price and terms are reserved for an advertiser, as opposed to the preferred deal in which an advertiser has an opportunity (not a requirement) to bid at the negotiated price. 

“While open marketplace programmatic allows for advertisers to purchase display ads on a publishers’ site with little clarity on what content their ads will appear next to,” Digiday writes, “programmatic direct deals that happen in a private marketplace or through a seller (programmatic guaranteed) has more guarantees around things like content adjacencies, impressions, and engagements.”

One of the anonymous publishing executives that Digiday spoke with said that even with their January traditionally being a quiet month, their programmatic RPM was up 30% from where they were in Q3 2022. 

“The … media exec also said that the private marketplace has been the primary area for monetizing their programmatic direct business, and while CPMs have remained consistent, stronger ad units and more ad inventory across more pages has led to an increase in revenue earned,” Digiday writes. “What’s more, the exec’s sales team has been ‘regaining some traction’ with programmatic guaranteed deals after they dropped off a bit in the back half of 2022, leading to further revenue growth from programmatic ads.”

Another media executive who spoke with Digiday said most of this quarter’s RFPs are for programmatic guaranteed rather than branded content, “indicating that clients and agencies still want human-touched campaigns, but ones that can be executed quickly and facilitated based on set rates.”


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