What is Programmatic Advertising? A million billion opportunities.

Programmatic advertising automatically places advertisements in electronic media to achieve optimal results. It could transform recruitment marketing by effectively targeting audiences across numerous networks both contextually and behaviourally.

“Programmatic advertising, marketing or media are technologies that automate buying, placement and optimisation of media inventory, replacing human-based methods. In this process, supply and demand partners use automated systems to place advertisements in electronically targeted media inventory.”

From Wikipedia

If you calculate the number of permutations that bidders have to analyse whether to buy specific impressions and compute the bids for each of them, it equals a staggering million billion possibilities. That’s a lot of zeroes.

Let’s take a look back in time. It was 21 years ago when the first banner ad appeared on, the previous URL of This effectively marked the new beginning for not just advertising but also for all marketing. Let’s be honest though, the banner ad was not a million miles from our traditional practices at the time. So what’s changed? Technology. The speed of advancement in ad serving technology in recent years has been meteoric and is still going strong. Soon it is believed that every display unit will be an advertising opportunity, so not exclusive to your mobile, tablet or PC but your oven timer at home or your car dashboard.  These will be interactive displays that will be able to track consumer response too.

There has been an obvious massive increase in online media publishers, and with it the number of display advertising opportunities now in the millions. From a media planner’s point of view, traditionally they would be liaising with 15 -30 media publishers and analysing 20 – 30 ad buys a week. Automated buyers of online advertising analyse millions in a second.

For display advertising, programmatic is the future, and it won’t stop there. Analysts believe that programmatic purchasing will be soon part of our everyday lives, whether buying a car or a pair of shoes.

From a recruitment marketing point of view it now means we can effectively target audiences across numerous networks both contextually and behaviourally, not relying on just a limited number of media publishing platforms. At Penna we have been using programmatic for a while now and the response data is compelling, showing much better results than traditional display advertising approaches. Whatever your thoughts on display advertising are, programmatic makes it possible to target audiences at the right time and for less money.

Jim Bloor

Planet of the Apps: the appeal of walled gardens


In internet terms a walled garden is a safe, controlled publisher ecosystem, often within an app or ISP environment, that controls the user’s access to Web content and services. The benefits walled gardens offer to users could see online recruitment activities shifting more towards apps and social media.

This limited access approach of walled gardens is becoming increasingly significant with mobile app downloads set to double globally in the next four years as smart phone adoption increases. People are spending more time on their phones interacting with apps, especially when it comes to social media and shopping.

Why this has happened is very clear; users prefer the faster experience of moving between apps on a mobile over waiting for a PC to boot up then navigating sites. Another driver is many large providers want to keep users on their network for longer.

There are many examples of this; Snapchat’s Discover, Facebook Instant Articles, Twitter’s Moments and the YouTube for Kids app. Walled gardens also get round the threat of ad blocking with adverts and content native to the platform as opposed to banner adverts across multiple platforms.

The main appeal of walled gardens is that they put the user at the centre of the experience. For example Snapchat insists that the advertisers in its Discovery section use vertical video, as that is the format that works best for the platform. So having principles and refusing to bend on content execution for the right reasons ensures in the long term a steady economic model. There is no irony lost on the fact that we are behaving like we did back in the 2000s; quality over technology advancements will always shine through.

What this means for recruitment is that the employers quickest to adopt and adapt app opportunities will be able to get ahead of their competitors in the war for talent. The use of social media as the main platform for campaigns platforms as opposed to just supporting other activity will become increasingly important.

Could it be possible that an employer’s Facebook page becomes the centre of their recruitment communications strategy and the careers website simply where you apply for a job? It could even host the application process too. The future is uncertain, but what is sure is that employers who fully understand their target markets and behaviours and match it with their outputs will reap the rewards.

Jim Bloor