Social And Programmatic Advertising: How They Work Together

January 12, 2024
8 minutes

Many consumers have shifted to digital, and the brands had no choice but to follow.

With this shift, the competition online jumped to new heights, forcing companies to rethink their marketing strategies and allocate more budgets to growing their digital presence.

Advertising is one of the best ways to do it, offering brands a variety of channels, including social media and programmatic advertising, that can help to stay at the top of consumers’ minds.

The good news is that you don’t have to choose one or the other.

Instead of pitting social media advertising against programmatic or vice versa, you can learn how the two can work together to create a powerful marketing mix.

This is what we’ll go through in this post comparing four big players in the online advertising industry – Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Eskimi, and learning how they can complement each other.

Let’s start with the basics

It’s common for brands to rely mostly on social media advertising as it’s one of the fastest ways to reach a potential customer. However, programmatic advertising is quickly gaining pace as a cost-effective solution that can help reach diverse audiences in different environments.

Each advertising platform has its own specifics and advantages that make it an attractive option for advertisers. 

For instance:

  • Facebook: As of 2022, Facebook has over 2.96 billion global monthly active users, and that’s a huge potential audience. Advertising accounts for the vast majority of the social network’s revenue ($113,642B in 2022) as it offers a range of options, including display ads, video ads, and sponsored posts. 
  • Instagram: Although part of Facebook, Instagram gives slightly different vibes, being focused on photo and video sharing. At the time of writing, it has more than 1.35 billion users worldwide and allows advertisers to serve sponsored posts, stories, and reels.
  • YouTube: It’s probably not wrong to call YouTube a king of video advertising as it’s one of the most popular video content platforms with over 2 billion users. Therefore, its advertising options don’t vary that much but are well-suited for those who want to promote their products or services using display, overlay, and video ads.
  • Eskimi: Eskimi is a full-stack programmatic advertising platform capable of reaching 1.5B+ people worldwide. Using programmatic, advertisers are not limited by specific platform’s boundaries (in this case, social media) but can serve their ads on different advertising channels globally, including in-game, CTV, not to mention “traditional” ads like display and video.

Although very similar, these platforms also have different capabilities that can slightly impact advertising possibilities and efforts in one way or another.

Let’s fill in the gaps and see how social media and programmatic advertising can create a unified advertising solution and boost overall advertising efforts.

The customizability of deals

If you’ve ever launched ads on Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube, you know that the process is pretty straightforward. There’s one way to do it – directly – and your ads will appear within the platform’s boundaries, i.e., in users’ Facebook feeds, Instagram stories, etc.

In programmatic (Eskimi, in this case), there are several different options to launch ad campaigns, including:

  • Open auction – advertisers bid on ad inventory in real-time, and the highest bid wins the slot.
  • Private auction – publishers make their premium ad inventory available for invited advertisers who bid on ad slots to win them.
  • Direct deals include Programmatic Guaranteed and Preferred Deals, where advertisers agree with publishers directly on specific ad inventory for a fixed price.

Moreover, social media and programmatic differ a lot in terms of ad types available. 

While social media platforms kind of force you to fit into their specific requirement frames, with programmatic, you can serve a wider variety of formats and customize them as you wish.

Ad type comparison table: social vs. programmatic advertising

Each ad type can help you fulfill different goals and objectives, so think of those carefully before planning an ad campaign. 

Try to find an answer to the question of which of them can help you deliver your message so it’s clear, engaging, and convincing.

Advanced high impact ads

Talking about ad types, the appearance and interactivity of ads are one of the most significant differences between social media and programmatic advertising.

While the variety of formats varies a lot for both channels, the difference lies in the level of engagement these ads can offer.

In terms of interaction, social media ads allow advertisers to run polls (Meta), check different offers in carousels by simply swiping through content, enable giving users a taste of a product using AR technology, and similar.

On the contrary, programmatic throws in an ace with rich media and high impact ad possibilities – ads that can capture user attention and leave a long-lasting impression. 

Using rich media, you allow your audience to change the content of the ad by interacting with it, for example, by clicking and swiping or even blowing into the microphone to reveal the offer.

High impact ads, on the other hand, enable high viewability and attention by design.

Adventure travel high impact ad
Source: Adnami

For example, screen takeover ads expand after users click on them and, you guessed it, take over the screen, allowing the audience to learn more about the offer, e.g., by watching a video. 

Put simply, it takes engagement to another level, leaving simple clicking behind and bringing new opportunities for brands to keep their audiences interested.

Walled gardens vs. open internet

A walled garden refers to a closed advertising ecosystem created by a large company that is operated without the involvement of outside people and organizations. Or in other words, the ecosystem where publishers own the entire advertising process.

In this case, Meta is what we would call a walled garden, while Eskimi falls under the definition of the open internet.

Walled gardens, as well as the open internet, have their advantages and disadvantages, some of which are:

  • Walled gardens create a one-stop-shop for advertisers, but it comes with a high level of control. Within the open internet, everyone can access and publish content without facing such a challenging environment.
  • Walled gardens offer a variety of ad formats, yet they’re mostly traditional image and video-related types. Open internet companies allow creativity to bloom as you can use both traditional and high impact ads that are interactive and innovative.
  • Both walled gardens and open internet offer a broad reach of diverse audiences. The difference is that platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube enable you to reach a global audience within its boundaries, while Eskimi (and programmatic in general) enables advertising on global websites and apps (within its inventory).
  • Advertising within the walled gardens is mostly self-service, which can be an advantage and a limitation at the same time, depending on your situation and needs. Because of self-service, it’s often difficult to get support. Meanwhile, open internet companies typically provide self-service and managed services options, so getting help and guidance is much easier.
Walled gardens vs. the open internet

All things considered, whether you use only a walled garden or a programmatic platform for advertising, you can still reach your goals. 

However, finding the right balance between each channel’s strengths and limitations and leveraging a combination of both can be just the right decision to make.

Advanced targeting

Both social media networks and programmatic advertising give you a range of options to reach your target audience.

Targeting on social media is mainly based on demographic and behavioral data (age, gender, location, occupation, life events, event attendance, etc.), and you can also target customized lists you can make yourself.

Programmatic targeting revolves around similar data points plus a couple of extra, like telco and contextual, also allowing one to go deeper into each and use options like socio-economic or daypart targeting.

Of course, if you use only social media or only programmatic advertising, you will be limited to specific channel boundaries, e.g., people who use Meta’s services or audiences available in the programmatic inventory.

It’s important to keep in mind that each of these channels offers different targeting options, so by advertising on multiple platforms, you can take advantage of a bigger range of solutions to reach your potential customers.

Targeting comparison table: social vs programmatic advertising

Dynamic triggering

Dynamic triggering refers to the practice of creating and displaying ads that are being customized in real-time based on the user’s behavior, interests, events, weather, etc. (these can vary depending on a channel). Using this approach, advertisers can serve more personalized, highly targeted ads that can improve the campaign's effectiveness.

Although both programmatic and social media have the option to apply dynamic triggering, it’s based on different parameters. Therefore, ads are different and have different purposes.

For instance, Meta allows showing dynamic ads based on user's interests and past behavior, such as previous purchases, page views, or interactions with the brand’s website or app. So if a user checks a red dress on some online store, they might see a dynamic ad featuring that same red dress along with other items related to their browsing history.

Meanwhile, in programmatic, specifically Eskimi, dynamic ads work via API integrations that help keep content relevant in real-time, enabling weather-related, live score, or product feed ads.

Kisumu dynamic ad

The key difference between the two channels is that while social media’s dynamic ads are based on the user’s actions, programmatic dynamic triggering is based on available data, e.g., real-time weather conditions.

Brand safety

Brand safety is crucial to advertising, regardless of the channel and platform you use.

It refers to the measures taken by both advertisers and publishers to ensure that ads do not appear in harmful, offensive, and inappropriate contexts that could damage a brand’s reputation.

Any platform you’re using or about to use for advertising has brand safety measures in place that can help you avoid putting your brand on blast.

The verdict

Every channel has unique strengths and weaknesses, and for advertisers, it’s crucial to identify and consider those before launching their ad campaigns.

While social media can provide an effective way to reach specific audiences within its boundaries, programmatic can offer a more efficient and automated ad buying process across various publishers in general. 

In some cases, one platform’s advantage can also be a disadvantage compared to another, e.g., for lower Facebook CPMs, you are losing the creative possibilities of programmatic.

Ultimately, the choice between social media and programmatic advertising depends on the advertiser’s goals, budget, target audience, and so on. Yet, a smart advertising strategy could incorporate both approaches, taking the best from both worlds, to maximize the effectiveness of your efforts.

Philip is the CMO of Eskimi. When he’s not busy growing the Eskimi brand, he spends his time with family and playing ping pong.
Philip is the CMO of Eskimi. When he’s not busy growing the Eskimi brand, he spends his time with family and playing ping pong.
Share this article

Level Up Your Advertising with Eskimi

  • Reach 96% of Open Web
  • 2,500+ Targeting Options
  • 100% Managed or Self-Service
  • In-House Creative Studio Team
  • Display, Video, In-Game & CTV
  • #1 Rated DSP on G2

Create Your Next Ad Campaign With Us

Suggested reading