ConnectAd Chronicles

In the blink of an eye - The life of a programmatic ad impression

All you need to know about the lifecycle of one little ad impression

Life is filled with lots of precious moments but some hold a beauty so exquisite that you wish time would slow down, granting you the chance to savor them in all their glory. If it’s the gentle touch of a loved one, the infectious laughter of your friends or the breathtaking beauty of a sunset: You sure all have these memories you long to relive in slow motion. And while we unfortunately can’t make that happen for you, there exists at least one ephemeral phenomenon in the digital realm that we can make tangible for everyone.

The life of a programmatic ad impression

We are talking about a programmatic ad impression – and as you may have noticed, we do so with great passion. Why though? Simple answer: Because we might be a little bit nerdish when it comes to our daily work ;-) Extensive answer: Because a programmatic ad impression is a fleeting digital marvel that blinks into existence for a mere 175 milliseconds and in this ever-accelerating world, it's hard to fathom the brevity of its existence. Yet, within that blink of an eye, a symphony of algorithms orchestrates a targeted message, bidding wars ignite, and pixels dance in harmony, all with the sole purpose of capturing attention. Sounds beautiful yet complicated? Yep, it is!

Let’s embark on this captivating exploration! 

We know that there still exists quite some confusion about how ad exchanges and data driven buying really work. So today we'll uncover what happens in the background from a user going to a website to the time he views an ad that was transacted programmatically. That’s an incredibly fast but complex process and therefore we would like to use the following infographic to make it easier to understand:

As the infographic shows, the lifecycle of a programmatic ad impression happens in less than a quarter second. Within less than 200 milliseconds a user loads a web page with ad code. A bid request takes place and is fulfilled to yield the highest CPM possible for a publisher. A targeted ad is matched to a user by integrating a variety of data sources, ad networks, and demand platforms and ultimately the advertiser just gets what he ordered. To sum it up: The ad is bid on, bought, sold, delivered, and seen. It begins the moment the browser loads, and in the blink of an eye, an ad is served.

It still wows us how far programmatic has come

An ad impression is an instant auction, which takes place non-stop on the Internet. Nevertheless: If we think about it, it just wows us because it also shows how far the industry has come from the stone age of buying and selling fixed banner space on selected individual websites. And that is by no means all. We are also particularly proud to do all this in Europe and, above all, for Europe. Because as a European SSP, we own and run our own data centers that we operate ourselves. On the one hand, this helps us to be able to offer the necessary speed as an SSP. On the other hand, we can also optimally serve privacy issues like GDPR that have become so important in recent years. Unlike products or services that are integrated in the cloud, we don't have to deal with some problems that come along with that in the first place, which also brings many advantages for the life of an ad impression. Even if this life – as we have learned today – is as short as a blink of an eye.