Oct 7 2022
Hope Lowdermilk

Programmatic Advertising 101: Three Skills Every Digital Media Associate Should Have


Each month, Basis Technologies’ Programmatic 101 series tackles a different facet of programmatic advertising—from best practices for buyers, to competitors in the space, to trends you should know.

Looking to kickstart a career in digital media? You’ve made a good choice: from the metaverse, to live sports, to TikTok, there’s a lot to get excited about. Plus, it’s an industry that’s forecasted to see steady growth in years to come.

For digital media associates, understanding the basics when it comes to programmatic is a must. To help guide your career journey, we’ve outlined the top three skills digital media associates should have in order to run successful programmatic campaigns:

1: How to Align Business Goals with Digital KPIs

The most important part of any programmatic campaign is ensuring that a client’s business outcome (increasing market share, driving more traffic to a website, etc.) is translated to the correct digital key performance indicator (KPI).

For example, a client’s goal may be to increase their reach in a new market—but reach isn’t a key performance indicator you can optimize towards within a DSP. You can achieve a similar goal by instead using KPIs like eCPM, which estimates how much revenue is generated per thousand impressions, or delivery, which shows how effectively your ads are being delivered within your chosen tactics.

For a traffic or consideration campaign, the business outcome may be to increase site traffic, but if you don’t control for cost then you’ll likely end up spending a lot of money on just a couple of site visits. To track traffic while controlling for cost, a DSP campaign can be optimized towards a cost-based KPI such as cost-per-click or cost-per-landing page view.

For the same reason, it’s important to control for cost if you hear a client say they want to drive more sales. To avoid spending your whole budget on just a few sales, you can use KPIs like Return on Ad Spend or Cost-Per-Acquisition to track sales while spending efficiently.

2. How to Use Programmatic Ad Types Strategically

Let’s discuss three of the main formats to consider when building out a programmatic strategy: audio, video (this includes CTV), and display (this includes interstitial and native advertising). We’ll break down why each format should be used, when it should be used, and some of the strategy red flags to keep an eye out for.


Use Case: According to eMarketer, digital audio will account for 12.7% of overall media time among US adults. That’s more time than US adults will spend on social media networks or watching video on their mobile devices! No wonder audio is digital advertising's fastest growing category. Plus, it's one of the last ad types that isn’t affected by ad blockers.

Best Used For: Awareness campaigns whose KPIs are focused on reach or completion rates.

Strategy Red Flags: Audio shouldn’t be used as the main ad format to drive conversion. While significant progress has been made with campaign-specific promotional codes and custom landing pages, advertisers should always complement audio placements with display ads to help drive efficiency and scale.


Use case: In 2022, nearly 84% of all US households will use a connected TV.  And according to eMarketer, 2022 is the first year that video will surpass non-video formats in programmatic ad spending, largely due to the rise in connected TV ad spend.

Best used for: Like audio, video is best used for awareness campaigns whose KPIs are focused on reach or completion rates. In addition, video is great for brands and products that benefit from visual storytelling to communicate brand differentiators or explain a nuanced product.

Strategy red flags: Comparing programmatic video performance to social video performance is a big red flag. Unlike other channels (who have companion banners or specific call to action buttons), programmatic video and connected TV are consumed before or in the middle of other content. While these videos are great for awareness, consumers are unlikely to leave their content to go complete an action on a website, making them an inefficient way to drive conversions.


Use case: Display ad spend saw huge growth in 2021, and is forecasted to increase by 20.9% in 2022, according to eMarketer. Native ads are particularly well-positioned to deliver higher click-through rates, because their blended-in feel helps to combat banner blindness.

Best used for: While display can be used for any objective, it’s best suited for driving an action, as consumers are used to clicking on a display ad to learn more about a product.

Strategy red flags: When display creative doesn’t have a strong call to action or when the same display creative is being used month-over-month. As a best practice, display creative should be updated every 4-6 weeks, even if it’s a simple CTA or image change.

3. How to Troubleshoot Delivery Issues

There’s nothing worse than taking the time to build out a campaign, upload and map all the creative, and set it live…only to find it isn’t spending. If your daily budgets are not being met, we’ve created this helpful checklist for you to run through.

Set Up:

  • Is the campaign online?
  • Are the flight dates correct?
  • Am I targeting a location (or just excluding a location)?
  • Is my Boolean logic set up correctly for my audiences?
  • Is my brand safety set up correctly?
  • Is my creative approved? Do the sizes match the inventory I’m including?


  • Is the bid high enough?
  • Is the budget set to the right type (all time vs. daily)


  • Do I have exchanges selected?
  • Do I have an allow list instead of a block list?
  • Does my private marketplace deal have enough reach?
  • Does the data segment I selected have enough scale (especially if geotargeting is layered on)?

Wrapping Up

Want more resources to achieve your digital media career goals? AdTech Academy provides curated learning paths that are designed to bolster your industry knowledge around certain topics and industry roles.

Check out AdTech Academy’s learning path for Digital Media Associates here!

Start Your Learning Path