Programmatic Executive

Job Description

Programmatic advertising buying uses software to buy advertising. Programmatic buying uses machines and algorithms to inform the purchase of the most relevant and appropriate display space.

Programmatic Executive

Also known as...

TV Executive; Out of Home Executive; Press Executive; Out of Home Executive; Radio Executive; Digital Executive; Media Executive.

The role in brief...

Programmatic advertising buying uses software to buy advertising. The traditional method of buying media included requests for proposals, tenders, quotes and human negotiation. Programmatic buying uses machines and algorithms to inform the purchase of the most relevant and appropriate display space.

This process does not rely on the complete automation of the advertising buying process. Back in the day, teams would traditionally have manually prepared insertion orders or advertising tags, which are labour intensive. With the arrival of programmatic advertising, teams now have more time to analyse, interpret, plan, better optimize, target and their advertising. It allows buying in real time across thousands of outlets, something a human could not do.

These media purchases are led by the media plans that are developed to best reach a client’s target audience. Programmatic Executives may specialise in a particular channel, and/or work across a variety of channels. This means that any format and any channel can be accessed programmatically including mobile, desktop, tablet, audio, digital outdoor and connected TV. In larger agencies, media buying and planning are separate departments, but in some agencies the planning and buying functions are combined in one role.

Working with...

  • Internal: Media Account Director; Media Planners; Data Analysts; Finance/accounts.
  • External: Media owners; Client marketing team; Media research organisations.
  • Programmatic Executives will usually report to a Media Account Manager, Media Account Director, Programmatic Manager, Programmatic Director, with overall responsibility for the client account.

Responsible for...

  • Supporting the team with the preparation of data to support negotiations with media owners to get the best rates, coverage and frequency of exposure for their clients.
  • Working closely with the planning teams to ensure that media plans are actioned by the team in accordance with the plan. Tracking progress of the account activity.
  • Keeping track and reporting to the team on industry developments relevant to their accounts, including the activity of key competitors and new media opportunities.
  • Supporting the agency systems bookings process with the relevant accurate administration.
  • Conducting competitive review research for client reports.
  • Preparing costing and spending reports for the programmatic team to share and present to clients.
  • Monitoring and reporting on the client budgets across campaigns.
  • Analysing campaign effectiveness and preparing reports for the team as required.
  • Support new business requests for information on plans, budgets and channels

Those who succeed are...

  • Highly numerate and interested in analysis of data.
  • They are proficient in using Excel, ideally with the ability to use pivot tables, sumifs and vlookups. Adept at interpreting data and identifying themes and inconsistencies. They can assimilate information quickly and adhere to processes/best practices. They are proactive in their response to requests and solve problems.
  • Able to recognise that the algorithm is not sentient and can make mistakes such as inadvertently putting an advert for a car next to fundamentalist content; or an advert for a beauty product into a programme about the Somme battle – just because there are women of the right age watching at a great price does not make this a sympathetic environment.
  • Comfortable working with systems and preparing reports.
  • Good communicators and able to present their ideas.
  • Organised, with strong attention to detail.
  • Interested in changes in the media landscape, new media opportunities and media research.
  • Interested in their client’s business and market, and where and how advertising contributes to success.

Where they come from, and where they go...

Programmatic Executives often start work as graduates from a wide range of course subjects, although apprenticeships may offer another route into the role as a Media Exec. A range of degree disciplines may be of interest; psychology, business studies, communications, marketing and management.

Mathematical aptitude and ability may well be tested as part of the recruitment process. Most new joiners will initially enter a combined Junior Media Planner/Buyer role, before specialising in buying one particular channel, once some experience has been gained.

With an interest in working with data and figures and curious about all of the different media channels and how they are traded they go on to become Senior Programmatic Buyers, Media Managers, Media Directors, Media Account Directors, Head of Trading.

Others may choose to specialise in the buying of particular media; TV, Biddable etc. while some may move to sales and marketing roles, or may move to media owners.

Last updated 21 January 2022