Social Media Magazine

Are Programmatic Guaranteed and Automated Guaranteed the Same Thing?

Posted on the 21 June 2016 by Smartadblog @SmartAdServerEN

This article is an update of our October 2015 post entitled “What’s Programmatic Guaranteed?“

automated guaranteed programmatic guaranteed


The ad tech industry is constantly evolving. New definitions pop up almost daily, and it can be difficult to keep up. Moreover, some of the vocabulary is just plain confusing!

Back in October we fleshed our thoughts surrounding the definition of programmatic guaranteed. If you’re in the loop, you know that the words programmatic guaranteed, automated guaranteed, programmatic direct, programmatic premium and programmatic reserved can often be used as if they’re synonyms, which they are not.

In its programmatic terminology piece, the IAB defines programmatic guaranteed as a “one-one sale with fixed pricing and reserved inventory that is processed automatically”. However, this definition doesn’t give us any details about ad ops. When we take that into consideration, we see there are really two kinds of programmatic guaranteed: one that’s executed using a guaranteed deal and another that’s executed via the API of the publisher’s ad server.

OK, for the moment, we haven’t said anything new. But there is an update here, we promise!

What’s New

In our last piece we explained that there are two types of programmatic guaranteed, each with a different buying method.  We’re sticking to our guns on that one. We definitely still believe that’s true! However, it’s important to note industry trends, and over the past few months we’ve seen an evolution towards identifying the first buying method (via a guaranteed deal) as programmatic guaranteed and the second method (via the ad server’s API) as automated guaranteed. There’s been a shift in terms of vocabulary usage, and we thought it best to make note that.

Detailed Definitions

Programmatic guaranteed: An automated transaction that takes place in the context of OpenRTB.

Publishers that make guaranteed deals and sell utilizing programmatic auction technology such as deal IDs are, in effect, selling through programmatic guaranteed. When this occurs, publishers and buyers negotiate a fixed price for reserved inventory, with the publisher linking the deal to said inventory in the RTB platform. The transaction is processed with a solution that was initially designed for real time bidding, but that has been pushed to its limits to support “direct sales”.

To complete such a sale, the publisher needs a holistic view of both direct commitments and programmatic sales. Therefore, this type of transaction is limited to platforms like Smart RTB+.

Automated guaranteed: A transaction designed to automate direct sales through a publisher’s ad server’s API.

The IAB OpenDirect specification, which standardized APIs and accelerated their development, allowed  publishers to package and market their inventories at guaranteed volumes. Within a buying interface, marketers have direct access to a publisher’s packaged inventories. They have the ability to search and filter inventory offers based on site, format, device, targeting, pricing, and other desired criterion. They can browse the goods, just as they would on an online shopping website. In addition, they can check available inventory, send booking requests, traffic campaigns and access reports all from a single interface. Moreover, publishers can accept or refuse booking requests, validate creative files and even propose a discounted price. In short, with the help of an ad server, a publisher can keep control of their inventory while leveraging additional sales.

Keeping Things in Perspective

The primary purpose of both programmatic guaranteed and automated guaranteed is to automate direct sales. Both bring a maximum of flexibility and operational efficiency to publishers, enabling the buy side and the sell side to save time and money. But that doesn’t mean direct sales are no longer essential.

Programmatic guaranteed and automated guaranteed are complementary. They solve different problems for actors with different needs. The most important step for the future is for all the players in ad tech to improve upon and standardize these solutions to further facilitate interaction and communication between all those involved in the process.


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