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Decoding programmatic acronyms

Digital marketing is renowned for its abundance of acronyms, so much so that anyone overhearing a conversation between two marketers wouldn’t have a clue what they were talking about, and programmatic (the automated buying and selling of digital advertising) just made eavesdropping a whole lot harder. But when these acronyms are deciphered you will realise that it’s not as complicated as it sounds.

DMP = Data Management Platform

Programmatic advertising involves a lot of data. From analysing existing customer behaviour to identifying new customers who are likely to be interested in a specific advertiser’s campaign, a Data Management Platform sorts, organises and makes sense of all of this data (first, second and third party data). The marketer can then use this platform to gain a better understanding of their current customers and help them prospect new ones.


DSP = Demand Side Platform

Buyers (the advertiser or an agency acting on behalf of an advertiser) set up their campaigns within a DSP, which is connected to an SSP.

The DSP looks at hundreds of parameters and reads data about users, including browsing behaviour and third party data, and uses these data points to attribute a value to each user. This value will be different for each advertiser, depending on its target audience and campaign objectives, the values attributed are used by the advertiser when bidding for impressions to target specific users.

SSP = Supply Side Platform

Supply Side Platforms are integrated with Demand Side Platforms. Publishers make their programmatic inventory available to the market via SSPs, which they auction off to advertisers.

RTB = Real Time Bidding

Real Time Bidding is a programmatic protocol which facilities the auction of programmatic inventory. Every time a programmatic tag is called by an ad server hundreds of data points referring to that one impression are sent in real time to the DSPs. The DSPs then analyse their data to find users that match the parameters of the impression that is being auctioned and send back bids, based on the value they have calculated that impression (user) is worth to each advertiser.

CPM = Cost Per Thousand

Impressions are bought in their thousands and a CPM refers to the price an advertiser pays for 1,000 ad impressions.


This is just a snapshot of the technologies and metrics involved in the programmatic process that takes 200 milliseconds to make an impression available in an auction, match users, collect bids and serve a programmatic ad impression. If you would like to find out more about programmatic advertising and how it could benefit your business, get in touch with our team of experts.