Sep 26 2023
Clare McKinley

Everything You Need to Know About Programmatic Guaranteed


There are certain words that just feel good. For example: “Free.” “Saturday.” “Birthday.” And of course: “Guaranteed.”

There’s not much that’s guaranteed in life, which must be why phrases like “money back guarantee” and “satisfaction guaranteed” are so nice to see as a consumer. In the context of selling goods and services, these slogans—and the promises that come with them—give consumers some extra agency. And in the context of today’s economic upheaval, that agency is particularly meaningful.

But consumers aren’t the only ones impacted by a turbulent economy, and advertisers could use a little extra agency, too. Luckily, there’s a programmatic buying method that offers just that: programmatic guaranteed. Read on to learn what it is, see how it differs from other buying methods, and discover all the ways it can benefit your campaigns.

What Is Programmatic Guaranteed?

Programmatic guaranteed is all about automation and assurance. Let's start with the automation part: For a programmatic guaranteed buy, advertisers may get to sync their data management platform (DMP) with the publisher’s DMP in order to access specific publisher audiences that they want to target via device ID or third-party cookie match.

Next, the assurance part (and this is where that glorious “guaranteed” word comes in): In programmatic guaranteed deals, advertisers are guaranteed a certain number of impressions and a fixed CPM up front. No holding your breath to see if your campaign will run over budget or having to explain why it didn’t garner as many impressions as you planned—with programmatic guaranteed, what you see is what you get!

How Does Programmatic Guaranteed Work?

“This all sounds great,” some advertisers might say. “But what does the process of a programmatic guaranteed deal actually look like?” Here’s how it works:

A programmatic guaranteed deal starts with negotiation and agreement between an advertiser and a publisher within a demand-side platform to create a customized deal. At this time, details such as the ad inventory, ad placements, pricing, and targeting are agreed upon (and, as the name suggests, guaranteed!).

The programmatic guaranteed deal is then set up within the DSP to automatically execute based on the agreed-upon terms. As the deal is executed, advertisers can access real-time reporting and analytics to monitor and track performance of their campaign.

Parts of this process might sound similar to other buying methods. Let’s review how programmatic guaranteed differs from direct buying and PMPs:

Programmatic Guaranteed vs Direct

You could call programmatic guaranteed a perfect marriage between direct and programmatic buying. With programmatic guaranteed, advertisers can access the premium ad placements and guaranteed inventory that come with direct deals, while benefiting from the digitized, automated nature of programmatic.

Direct buys can be somewhat complicated to set up and execute, because they require negotiating and communicating with publishers outside of the platform you use to run media. Programmatic guaranteed puts all those interactions inside the DSP, so advertisers can quickly and easily swap out creative, or even pause campaigns immediately (depending on the publisher with which you’re working).

Programmatic Guaranteed vs PMP

Like direct buying, private marketplace (PMP) advertising is all about exclusive, premium inventory. However, while PMPs are exclusive in that they can only be accessed by a limited number of advertisers who are invited, programmatic deals are set up directly between the publisher and the advertiser.

PMPs are great for securing prime inventory at pre-negotiated rates, but they don’t ensure a certain number of impressions. Plus, one publisher can have hundreds of PMPs, which further complicates an already dizzyingly complex media landscape for marketers. With programmatic guaranteed, on the other hand, advertisers can secure the exact number of impressions and the exact target audience they want.

Running a Programmatic Guaranteed Deal

Now that we’ve covered what goes into a programmatic guaranteed deal, and how it differs from other buying methods, let’s take a look at what running an effective programmatic guaranteed campaign entails. Though some things will vary depending on your individual campaign and goals, there are a few steps all advertisers should take:

  1. Get clear on objectives. Are you focusing on brand awareness, conversions, or another goal? By first defining your campaign objectives, you can ensure your programmatic guaranteed deal supports your overall campaign.
  2. Pick your publisher. Determine which partner(s) have the inventory and audiences you’re trying to connect with. A good DSP will have access to a network of publishers you can explore.
  3. Negotiate a deal. Work with the publisher to agree on the specific terms of the deal, such as ad inventory, CPM, campaign duration, etc.
  4. Get set up. Once you’ve negotiated with your publisher partner, input your deal information to your DSP to execute it based on the agreed-upon terms.
  5. Launch and monitor. View the performance of your deal within the context of your larger campaign(s) and make optimizations as needed.

By working through these key stages, advertisers can make the most of their programmatic guaranteed deals and ensure they run smoothly, start to finish.

Benefits Of Programmatic Guaranteed

By this point, you already know about the automation and assurance advantages offered by programmatic guaranteed. But those qualities add up to a number of other benefits that advertisers should be aware of. In order to review those, we’ll call upon some more happy words—like “savings,” “consolidated,” “exclusivity,” and “transparency”—so get ready for a little adtech endorphin boost! Here we go:

Time Savings

As we’ve discussed, programmatic guaranteed automates many of the manual tasks associated with direct buys, including data entry and IO creation. The fact that programmatic guaranteed streamlines these tasks from within a DSP not only reduces errors, but also saves significant amounts of time. In today’s fast-paced advertising landscape, the agility these time savings provide is crucial.

Consolidated Billing

Billing for direct buys can be complicated. Manual IO management and communication between publishers and advertisers take up a lot of time, can be error prone, and are handled separately from other buying methods advertisers use. In contrast, billing for programmatic guaranteed doesn’t require any exchange of agreements or orders between publishers and advertisers. Instead, it can be automated and consolidated within the digital advertising platform—no additional bills required.

Unified Reporting

Like billing, reporting for programmatic guaranteed buys is automated and consolidated within a DSP. This allows advertisers to look holistically at campaign performance and assess conversion attribution comprehensively. As omnichannel advertising increasingly becomes a must for advertisers wanting to reach consumers in the most opportune moments, it’s a huge benefit to be able to quickly and easily pull holistic reports to assess campaign performance from every angle.


Programmatic guaranteed deals are typically given high priority by publishers, and there are instances in which publishers are setting inventory aside just for these kinds of buys. Want the most exclusive, premium inventory on the market? Then you want programmatic guaranteed.


With programmatic guaranteed deals, advertisers know exactly what they’re getting ahead of time when it comes to spend and impressions. Even better, those numbers don’t change for the entire duration of a campaign. This transparency and predictability make it easier for advertisers to plan their campaigns more effectively, as they don’t have to worry about under-delivery or under-spend. Plus, all the campaign information is contained within the DSP in real time—there's no waiting for publishers to send reports or confirmation.

Programmatic Guaranteed: Wrapping Up

Let’s recap: Savings. Exclusive. Holistic. Transparent. There sure are a lot of reasons to love programmatic guaranteed!

Realistically, of course, advertisers will need to tap into all the different media buying methods, depending on the situation, to make the most of their marketing spend. And when it comes to premium inventory, PMPs—like programmatic guaranteed—are a great addition to any marketer’s toolkit.

Want to learn more about the best ways to access premium inventory? Check out our private marketplaces page for all the details.

Learn More About PMPs