What is special about Programmatic In-House?

4 min readMar 11, 2021


Personification, control, and data are principles that most brands rely on while planning ad campaigns. Marketers have to take into account a variety of ad channels, formats, and strategies. All these tools require both tight control and fine-tuning, preferably using a single interface.

Fortunately, programmatic advertising can handle this task. It combines flexible content settings and ad display criteria with detailed reports and analytics. And it also allows you to leverage your own user data.

According to the report published by Zenith Programmatic Marketing Forecasts 2019, the share of programmatic in the digital ad market rose to 68% in 2020. Over the past five years, investments in programmatic ads increased by 54%. The popularity of programmatic continues to grow, as much as the need to keep its various tools under control.

Similar to many services, programmatic works best when being customized. More and more brands opt not to outsource programmatic campaigns but create, adjust and implement strategies inside the company. In other words, they strive to build their own programmatic ecosystem in-house.

Why do companies want to build an in-house programmatic department?

One reason is that they want to gain full control not only over results but also over the running process. The in-house implementation makes an ad campaign more transparent. It also shortens the decision-making process. Only a few people work on strategy, creatives, and analyze results — none of them is from a third-party organization. Not only it boosts the decision-making quality, but it also shortens the reaction time.

A company that invests in its own programmatic ad department also enjoys the benefits of not having-to-share-its-data-with-outsiders privilege. The idea gains in popularity even more as regulations governing storage and transfer of users’ data become stricter.

How do brands feel about developing programmatic in-house?

According to a survey provided by IAB Programmatic and Accenture Interactive, every fifth company in the world has taken programmatic in-house.

More specifically,

21% of companies already have a dedicated programmatic department and plan to develop it further,

48% partially use programmatic in-house,

16% have tried to establish programmatic in-house but opted to come back to agencies,

15% have no plans to shift to programmatic in-house.

This comes as no surprise as the 2020 pandemic revealed that independence is beneficial for many businesses in many aspects of their activity.

It’s worth bearing in mind that different companies use programmatic in-house in different ways. Some need a ready-to-use solution, while others customize it.

Which types of programmatic in-house exist?

Self-service DSP

Actually, this is a classic Self-service solution that grants almost unlimited possibilities for setting up an advertising campaign, picking a channel, and testing various ad strategies.

This is the simplest and most affordable way to try “in-house” since it doesn’t require any additional configuration and is available right away. Though being easy to use, this solution doesn’t imply any refinement and personalized functionality.

It’s a good kick-off for companies that just test the ground in programmatic in-housing to train their employees to run ad campaigns relying on the support team’s help.

Clients get access to the trading desk, where they can upload creatives and configure ad settings. DV360 and Adform are well-known examples of Self-service DSPs. In this case, the self-service buyer pays for the traffic and technology.

SaaS / Customized DSP

Customized DSP is a better fit if the standard trading desk capabilities are not enough and a client needs more inventory or new platforms.

Large advertisers, well-versed with programmatic, and who want to sell programmatic ads and set up their own ecosystem usually choose this type.

The company pays for implementation and integration. This type enables the company’s data (Bring Your Own Data — BYOD), algorithm (BYOA), or inventory (BYOI) integration. The interface can be branded to match the company’s corporate identity and be deployed on any domain. Priority integration with other SSPs and DMPs is available, as well.

AppNexus, Beeswax, and hybrid.ai are the best examples of this type of DPS.

Full-stack programmatic

When a company already has services to integrate with programmatic or has no idea how to approach programmatic in-house, the best solution will be to choose Full-stack programmatic.

This works for large brands with their own DMP, CRM, or other data sources to use in advertising without sharing them with third parties. Full-stack programmatic is also suitable for building internal SSP.

This solution is remarkably flexible because it can be adapted to the client’s needs, providing even specific features that may go beyond the scope of standard DSPs.

The solution provider acts as an integrator, programmatic technologies provider(SSP, DMP, or DSP), and a complementary tool developer.

Full-stack programmatic makes it possible to build a system entirely on the client’s servers and connect only necessary SSPs and DMPs.

Hybrid Platform is one example of these solutions, which provides a variety of capabilities, from SSP to integrated DMP. It also provides additional tools for campaign planning and reporting, Insights, and Reports, respectively, which provides greater transparency and a complete understanding of past advertising campaigns’ results.

Types of programmatic in-house