Deals in programmatic advertising

There are two major types of programmatic buying - open and private marketplaces.

If the open marketplace is a public market where anyone can come in and buy everything that is up for sale, then private marketplaces are invite-only markets where publishers give access to specific advertisers who they want to work with exclusively.

Difference between programmatic marketplaces

While open auctions can give you the broadest variety of users that you can narrow down by your favorite criteria - context of the website, time of the day, behavior, and other data - in case of a private marketplace, everything will have to be done on the publisher’s side.

By using deals, you can have a different approach for reaching users that might be interested in your product (your target audience) - instead of using narrow targeting settings, you can manually reach out to the biggest publishers of your market and agreeing on deals that will allow you to reach an audience based on publisher criteria. It can be a very specific premium placement or an audience that is segmented by the type of consumed content.

So, private marketplaces leave less control in your hands. However, they also open up possibilities for buying very specific traffic, sold only through these premium channels.

When to use deals

Deals are often used when trying to reach a cold audience that is not yet familiar with your offer. By having a direct connection with publishers, you can negotiate the most visible placements with the highest impact, thus raising the awareness of your brand very effectively.

On the other hand, if you want to run a campaign for users that have already interacted with your website or banners, it’s best to stick with the open marketplace option. Since you are narrowing down the settings to reach a very specific audience, you might want to reach them on all possible websites and placements, not limited to premium-only.

Three types of deals

There are 3 main types of deals - private auctions, preferred deals, and programmatic guaranteed deals. Here is how they are different:

  • Private auctions - Deals for premium placements and pre-agreed type of traffic for a limited number of advertisers. If you have received a private deal, that means you will still be competing for the impressions with other advertisers, however, only with a limited number of them.

  • Preferred deals - They are made only for you and no other advertiser has access to that traffic. You are not competing against other advertisers and are able to buy all incoming traffic for a pre-agreed minimum price.

  • Programmatic guaranteed - A guaranteed negotiation between the publisher and the buyer. Advertisers have to commit to buying 100% of the agreed impressions for a pre-agreed fixed price. Even though this is almost identical to buying ad placements directly from a publisher, this gives more transparency and unified billing capabilities to both sides.


It is important to understand that both open marketplace and private deals have their own pros and cons and it is suggested to mix and match these buying methods based on your brand and campaign goals.

If you have a new brand, product, or just a value proposition that you want to raise awareness for, deals should be a major part of your buying strategy. Ensuring that you have access to the most premium placements and audiences on the most suitable websites and networks.

If you’re looking for clicks and performance, you should focus mostly on the open exchange and throw a couple of broad deals to your campaign, only as an addition to the open auction.

Finally, if you are targeting users that have already interacted with your content, you don’t want to layer this with any deals - make sure that you are not applying any limitations and restrictions, this way reaching the customers across every single website on the web.