Programmatic Job: Everything You Need to Know

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Have you heard of programmatic jobs but aren’t exactly sure what they entail? Programmatic has become a buzzword in the marketing and advertising industry in recent years, but the concept can still seem unclear. This extensive guide will explain everything you need to know about programmatic jobs, from defining key terms to exploring different career paths and responsibilities. By the end, you’ll have a comprehensive understanding of this growing field.

What is Programmatic?

To start, it’s important to understand what programmatic means. At its core, programmatic is the automation of digital marketing transactions through the use of technology and algorithms. Instead of people manually placing ads on websites and mobile apps, programmatic allows advertisers to use automated bidding and allocation systems.

Some key aspects of programmatic include:

  • Real-time bidding (RTB) – Advertisers and publishers use automated exchanges to transact ad impressions in real-time auctions. Bids are made and won within milliseconds based on numerous data signals.
  • Data-driven targeting – Sophisticated targeting is possible using vast amounts of online user data from browsing behavior to demographic and location information. Ads can reach the right audiences at scale.
  • Automation – Tasks like campaign setup and optimization, pricing, and trafficking are automated with less human involvement needed daily.
  • Transparency – Programmatic provides transparency into where ads are running and key metrics like viewability, engagement, and completion that weren’t possible before.
  • Scalability – Programmatic allows brands to reach huge online audiences efficiently. Campaigns can launch, optimize, and ramp up or down quickly based on goals and performance.

So in summary, programmatic uses automated technologies and data to transact and place digital ads in a targeted, measurable, and scalable way. This has revolutionized how advertising works online.

Programmatic Job Roles

With the rise of programmatic, many new specialized roles have emerged in the digital marketing industry. Understanding the different types of programmatic jobs is important for career exploration. Here are some of the key programmatic positions:

Programmatic Trader

  • Primary responsibilities include buying digital media on behalf of advertisers through programmatic channels like demand-side platforms (DSPs).
  • Set campaign goals, negotiate rates, and bid on available impressions in real-time exchanges to achieve KPIs like reach, engagement, or conversions.
  • Monitor performance closely and optimize spend accordingly based on analytics and key metrics.
  • Strong understanding of technologies, metrics, bidding strategies, and audience data needed.

Programmatic Strategist

  • Develop comprehensive programmatic strategies by analyzing client goals, audiences, and inventory opportunities.
  • Create media plans that leverage different channels like display, mobile, video, and addressable TV seamlessly.
  • Research industry trends to stay on top of new offerings, technologies, and ways to enhance strategies over time.
  • Work closely with traders, analysts, and client teams on execution and optimizations.

Programmatic Analyst

  • Crunch large volumes of data from campaigns to generate actionable insights.
  • Leverage analytics and attribution platforms to understand what is driving performance.
  • Produce reports, dashboards, and recommendations to optimize campaigns.
  • Continuously test new tactics, segment audiences and troubleshoot issues.
  • Strong expertise in analytics tools, metrics KPIs, and statistical analysis.

Publisher/Yield Optimization Specialist

  • Work directly with publishers and inventory owners to help monetize their media supply.
  • Configure technical settings to attract top bids and volume on ad exchanges.
  • A/B tests different tactics to drive higher CPMs (cost per thousand impressions).
  • Use data to identify audience segments and placement strategies for premium pricing.
  • Solid understanding of sell-side platforms, auction dynamics, and revenue streams.

As you can see, programmatic spans both the buy side for advertisers and sell side for publishers. Other related roles included software engineers, account managers, and project managers focused specifically on building out programmatic capabilities.

Education and Skills Required

With the technical nature of programmatic, certain educational backgrounds and skill sets are highly valued for these career paths. Here are some common qualifications sought by employers:

  • Bachelor’s Degree – Programs in marketing, economics, business analytics, and computer science provide a solid educational foundation. Specialized analytics or advertising degrees are an asset.
  • Data Analysis Skills – The ability to analyze large datasets, uncover trends, and generate insights. Knowledge of tools like Google Analytics, Excel, and Tableau.
  • Programming Skills – Proficiency in languages like SQL, Python, and R gives candidates an edge. JavaScript skills are important for front-end optimization tasks.
  • Digital Marketing Experience – Hands-on experience with SEM, SEO, social media, or display campaigns shows an understanding of digital marketing principles.
  • Technical Aptitude – Programmatic leverages many technologies under the hood. Strong technical problem-solving ability and comfort with tech are valued.
  • Communication Skills – Presenting findings visually through dashboards and reports. Ability to communicate complex projects to both technical and non-technical teams.
  • Attention to Detail – Programmatic requires precision to set up campaigns correctly and catch errors. Strong organizational abilities and quality focus.

While the skills mentioned provide a strong start, many employers value on-the-job learning and are open to those eager to learn. Continuing education opportunities through online courses or official certification programs help strengthen any candidacy.

Career Progression and Paths

For those looking to build a career in programmatic, there are different paths one can take over the long run based on interests, strengths, and opportunities available. Here are some typical progression routes:

Associate to Senior Level

  • Associate Programmatic Analyst -> Senior Analyst
  • Associate Strategist -> Senior Strategist
  • Associate Trader -> Senior Trader


  • Strategist -> Data Strategist
  • Analyst -> Analytics Manager
  • Trader -> Specialty like Video, Native, Addressable TV


  • Senior Analyst -> Analytics Manager
  • Senior Strategist -> Programmatic Director
  • Senior Trader -> Trading Desk Manager

Education to Career

  • Pursue Master’s in relevant field -> Programmatic Consultant
  • Certification in Google/Facebook tools -> Partnership Manager


  • Begin as Consultant -> Programmatic Agency Founder
  • Independent Consultant -> Strategic Advisor

Switch Industries

  • 5+ years experience -> Apply programmatic skills to new verticals

With experience under the belt, it’s also common to move into associated roles in data science, product marketing, business development, and more. Programmatic also opens many remote opportunities given its digital nature. Overall, working in programmatic offers numerous pathways for lifelong learning and growth.

In-Depth Career Guide: Programmatic Trader

To provide even more insight, let’s explore the key responsibilities of one specific role – the programmatic trader – in further depth:

Day-to-Day Responsibilities

  • Manage ad spending in real-time bidding platforms like DV360 and Trade Desk on an hourly/daily basis
  • Use analyst’s insights to set campaign goals around metrics like clicks, CTR, viewability
  • Set up line items, and ad placements with targeting, bidding, and budget controls
  • Monitor auctions and adjust bids to optimize performance toward goals
  • Work closely with analysts to test new tactics, and inventory sources continuously

Technical Skills Required

  • Proficiency in DSP/SSP platforms, tag, and script management
  • Knowledge of online auctions, pacing, bidding strategies, and inventory types
  • Programming skills like SQL and spreadsheet skills for data analysis
  • Understanding ad serving/tracking technologies like DMPs, CRM data
  • Comfort with algorithms, data flows, and optimization methodologies

Key Performance Metrics

  • Cost per lead/conversion, CTR, viewability rates, engagement metrics
  • Campaign pacing and spend distribution across goals, days of the week
  • Return on ad spend (ROAS), cost per acquisition (CPA) goals
  • Benchmark performance of campaigns and client verticals over time
  • Test new tactics against optimized/control cells for true lift

Career Progression as Trader

  • Associate Trader > Intermediate Trader > Senior Trader > Lead Trader
  • Gain experience across clients, formats like mobile, video, native
  • Specialize in high-volume programmatic types like RTB display
  • Take on the management of additional team members over time
  • Pursue certification and continuing education regularly

As you can see, the programmatic trader role requires technical savvy, analytical rigor, and multi-tasking abilities daily. For the right candidates, it offers a creative, fast-paced career optimizing large-scale digital marketing investments.

Programmatic Resources and Certifications

For anyone pursuing education or a career pivot towards programmatic, the following resources can help expand knowledge and strengthen resumes:

Online Courses:

  • Google Ads Certification – Teaches skills for managing search, display, and video campaigns on Google Ads.
  • Facebook Blueprint – Comprehensive certification modules covering Facebook marketing, ads manager, and business tools.
  • HubSpot Inbound Certification Program – Focuses on inbound marketing, CMS, CRM, and content skills.
  • Analytic and Data Science MOOCs on Coursera, edX – Courses in R, Python, SQL, Excel, and tools like Google Analytics, and Adobe Analytics strengthen analysis abilities.

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