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12 Top Programmatic Advertising Platforms in 2023

Programmatic advertising is witnessing an impressive growth rate in recent times, and in the United States alone, ad spending has been projected to hit closer to $100 billion in 2022.

Programmatic forecast 2022
Digital display ad spending forecast

On a global scale, programmatic ad spending hit an estimated $129 billion in 2020 and was projected to reach $150 billion in 2021.

Programmatic advertising has a track record of helping marketers reach relevant customers throughout their path to purchase, effectively accelerating conversion and boosting revenue.

Other benefits include reduced ad cost, better optimization, improved ad management, and more.

If you're looking to invest in programmatic advertising, the first thing in your mind would be to determine the best platform to partner with for this purpose. Selecting the right programmatic platform will help you manage your ad investments efficiently.

With that being said, this guide explores 12 of the best programmatic advertising platforms that can help your business achieve more marketing successes in 2022.

We shall compare these platforms based on several criteria, including pricing, ad inventory quality, audience targeting, and anti-fraud/safety measures.

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For those who don't have time to read the whole article, here's the list of top programmatic platforms by categories:

What is Programmatic Advertising

In simple terms, programmatic advertising refers to the use of automated technology in the purchasing of digital ad space. This is a far cry from manual advertising, which heavily depends on interpersonal interaction between publishers and marketers.

Programmatic advertising leverages data insights and complex algorithms to serve adverts to relevant users at the right time, place, and price.

You can watch Improvado's vlog on programmatic advertising to get a better understanding of this concept:

This system of advertising is beneficial because it occurs in real-time, allowing advertisers to bid for ad space more efficiently.

How Programmatic Advertising Works

Here’s how programmatic advertising works in a nutshell:

  1. A prospect visits a website
  2. The website owner captures this impression and puts it up for auction, including relevant data about the website visitor (using a Supply-Side Platform—SSP)
  3. Advertisers bid for this impression (using a Demand-Side Platform—DSP)
  4. The impression then gets delivered to the highest bidder, whose ad will be shown to the visitor.

These steps might seem like a lot, but the entire four-step process happens in seconds, thanks to the Real-Time Bidding functionality associated with programmatic advertising. The competing bids go through a series of automated calculations and analytics to effectively determine the most cost-effective bid.

Here's a great scheme by Publift that sheds more light on programmatic advertising:

Programmatic advertising scheme
How programmatic works

For instance, if the visitor’s data shows that they’re most likely to engage with your ad, your ad network will serve a higher bid for that impression.

The Challenges of Programmatic Advertising

While programmatic advertising offers numerous benefits, it also poses substantial challenges. Marketers often face issues with data integration, campaign tracking, and reporting. Here, we’ll explore these challenges in more detail and discuss potential solutions.

Inconsistent taxonomy of marketing campaigns

One of the biggest challenges in programmatic advertising is the inconsistent taxonomy of programmatic campaigns. Campaigns can have different naming conventions and UTM structures, making it difficult to build a holistic picture of your marketing performance.

This inconsistency almost always leads to discrepancies in performance metrics and hinders the ability to accurately measure the effectiveness of marketing efforts. Without a clear and consistent taxonomy, it becomes challenging to optimize campaigns, allocate budgets effectively, and make data-driven decisions.

A joint study found that 15% of media spending ($3.24bn) could not be attributed to any conversions or goal completions, highlighting the need for accountability and transparency.

In the face of the global recession and cost-of-living crisis, marketing teams should use marketing budgets more effectively.

One solution to this challenge is to use a marketing analytics platform that standardizes and consolidates campaign data from multiple programmatic platforms. For example, Improvado integrates with 500+ marketing and sales data sources, including MediaMath, AdRoll, Criteo, and all the other popular programmatic platforms to help you get all performance data in one place and make sense out of it.

The platform automatically pulls any data of your choice and turns it into analysis-ready insights. Then, the data is streamlined into a business intelligence platform used by your team.

Let’s explore how Improvado ensures that none of your programmatic campaigns ever slip away from analytics. 

About 7-30% of marketing campaigns tracked through Improvado use improper or incomplete UTM tags. It leaves a significant part of ad spending unattributed to any conversions and interferes with properly tracking the marketing budget’s effectiveness.

Improvado’s UTM quality dashboard shows how much of your ad spend can't be attributed to conversions and which campaigns are marked with poorly structured UTMs. The dashboard also helps teams verify that each UTM tag has all the required parameters in place and is written correctly.

Improvado's dashboard for auditing UTM tags
The ad spend breakdown according to UTM quality

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Difficulties pulling data from numerous ad accounts

Another significant challenge in programmatic advertising is the difficulty of pulling data from numerous ad accounts. It’s common for marketers to run programmatic campaigns across multiple ad accounts and platforms, each with its own unique data format and API. This makes data collection and consolidation challenging, especially for marketers who lack the technical expertise to build and maintain their own data pipelines.

Potential resource savings after automating marketing reporting

As a result, marketers spend up to 30% of their time manually pulling data from multiple ad accounts, which can be a time-consuming and error-prone process. Moreover, this leads to delays in data processing and reporting, making it difficult to spot important trends and optimize campaigns.

Marketing analytics platforms are crucial for teams who value their time and don't want to waste it manually pulling data from hundreds of programmatic ad accounts. Improvado helped companies like ASUS automate data collection from hundreds of ad accounts across different regions.

Whether you’re a large marketing agency dealing with hundreds of client accounts or a global brand managing programmatic campaigns across different regions, Improvado can help you streamline the data collection process and allow you to focus on what matters most: launching efficient campaigns.

Learn how Improvado helped ASUS consolidate marketing data across different regions and automate global marketing reporting.

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Lack of cross-channel performance visibility

The inability to analyze both organic and paid performance in a single view is a strong disadvantage of programmatic platforms. Usually, teams are limited to the platform’s native analytics tools that don’t take data from other channels 

into consideration. That’s why marketers have to manually aggregate data from organic and paid channels to get the complete picture of the customer journey and understand which channels are the most efficient.

Manual data aggregation not only eats into valuable time but also leads to incomplete or inaccurate data, hindering decision-making processes.

Marketing analytics platforms are invaluable for teams that need to track the performance of their efforts across different channels. Improvado, for example, not only helps teams automate data collection across channels but also provides ready-made dashboard templates for cross-channel analysis.

A cross-channel dashboard like this usually takes months to build, but with Improvado, you can get it in just a few days. With Improvado’s extensive library of dashboard templates, marketers skip the tedious data processing stage and deal directly with juicy marketing insights.

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Top Programmatic Platforms by Category

Programmatic advertising
The full cycle of programmatic advertising

Programmatic advertising relies on three categories of platforms to function: Demand-Side Platforms (DSPs), Supply-Side Platforms (SSPs), Ad Exchanges, and Data Management Platforms (DMPs).

Advertisers make use of DSPs to bid for digital ad space, while publishers make use of SSPs for selling their ad spaces. 

An ad exchange serves as a marketplace for connecting advertisers and publishers through their respective platforms. A DMP collects all kinds of data related to an advertiser's ideal customer.

Now, let’s explore some of the best programmatic ad platforms in each category.

Demand-Side Platforms (DSPs)

A DSP allows advertisers to bid for ad impressions on publisher websites. It also enables advertisers to filter their target audience based on specific criteria like location, age, past online behavior, gender, and more.

Here are some of the most popular programmatic DSPs:

Adobe Advertising Cloud DSP

Adobe Advertising Cloud DSP prides itself as “the only omnichannel DSP that supports connected TV, video, display, native, audio, and search campaigns..”

Mentioned as a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Ad Tech, Adobe provides features that help advertisers launch, manage, and optimize campaigns. This includes inventory management, personalized marketing, search management, and more.

Pricing: Custom. Pricing depends on different factors like company size, requirements, and the number of tools purchased

Supported Ad Inventory: Display, video, audio, mobile apps, Digital out of Home (DOOH), TV, native, and social

Audience Targeting: Audience segment, device type, location, browser, and more

Anti-fraud/Safety Measures: Offers page screening for detecting faulty inventory and pre-bid filtering for detecting fraud, suboptimal viewability, and brand violation.


Launched in 2007, MediaMath is recognized as one of the earliest DSPs in the industry. Today, it partners with over 3,500 advertisers to help them run omnichannel campaigns across mobile, display, OTT, native, video, audio, and more.

Its SOURCE ecosystem is designed to help advertisers achieve better supply-path optimization and algorithm decision.

MediaMath is also recognized as a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Ad Tech.

Price: Custom

Supported Ad Inventory: Connected TV, display, mobile, video, audio, native, and DOOH 

Audience Targeting: Audience segment, contextual, first-party data, site list, location, daypart, technology, video, and audio.

Anti-fraud/Safety Measures: Uses its SOURCE ecosystem to ensure supply-chain trust through pre-bid IVT protection and onboarding tools.

Get our MediaMath connector to automatically pull performance metrics and load them into any of Improvado’s cross-channel dashboards.

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AdRoll is loved by its users for its simplicity and the quality of its ad templates. The platform focuses on helping brands expand their reach through video, social ads, display, native, email, and more.

Recognized as a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Ad Tech, AdRoll uses a broad spectrum of data to determine where and when to deliver ads to prospects.

Price: Offers a free package for starters as well as a custom pricing package for enterprises

Supported Ad Inventory: Video, social ads, display, native, and email

Audience Targeting: Contextual, lookalike, demographic, interest, lookalike, and CRM targeting 

Anti-fraud/Safety Measures: Has a Trust and Safety Team for automatically and manually filtering invalid traffic

DSP Pricing Ad Inventory Audience Targeting Brand Safety Tools
Adobe Advertising Cloud Custom Display, video, audio, mobile apps, digital out of home (DOOH), TV, native, and social Audience segment, device type, location, browser, manufacturer, and OS Page screening and pre-bid filtering
MediaMath Custom Connected TV, display, mobile, video, audio, native, and DOOH Audience segment, contextual, first-party data, site list, location, daypart, technology, video, and audio Source Ecosystem with built-in pre-bid IVT protection
AdRoll Has a free plan, an $18 per month plan, and a Custom plan Video, social ads, display, native, and email Contextual, lookalike, demographic, interest, lookalike, and CRM targeting Dedicated Trust and Safety Team

Streamline AdRoll data and combine it with data from other channels to get a holistic picture of your marketing performance.

Automate AdRoll Analytics

Supply Side Platform (SSP)

An SSP focuses on helping publishers (website owners) sell ad space on their apps, websites, and other digital properties.

These platforms use automation to determine the optimal price for each ad space and sell to the best bidder. SSPs work with ad networks to connect publishers to a broader pool of advertisers.

Let’s take a look at a few of the leading SSPs in the industry.


PubMatic offers services for both media buyers and publishers. As an SSP, it provides an impressive collection of tools to help publishers optimize the monetization potential of all their digital assets.

This includes tools for header bidding, RTB advertising, Private Marketplaces (PMP), and ad quality.

Supported Ad Inventory: CTV, OTT, display, video, addressable, mobile, native, and more

Anti-fraud/Safety Measures for Publishers: Uses real-time scanning and strategic partnerships to safeguard publisher’s audiences across ad formats, channels, and screens

Google Ad Manager 

Programmatic publishers utilize an average of 6 SSPs to sell ad space to advertisers. Despite this, Google remains the most popular SSP among publishers, claiming 51% of the industry’s market share.

In fact, 75% of ad impressions in the US come from Google Ad Manager. More insights in the Twitter thread below.

Google Ad Manager exists for large publishers with significant direct sales. Some of the tools it offers include server-side header bidding, managed PMPs, advanced dashboard and reporting system, and more.

Supported Ad Inventory: Video, mobile, display, and native.

Anti-fraud/Safety Measures for Publishers: Google supports popular safety standards, initiatives, and protocols such as the IAB ads.txt standard, SafeFrame, and HTTPS to protect against unsuitable ads and invalid activity

Consolidate data from Google Ad Manager and 500+ other marketing sources with Improvado.

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Criteo offers a retail media service to help publishers monetize their site content by leveraging first-party data and audiences.

Unlike Google Ads Manager, Criteo makes its services available to publishers with lower traffic numbers. As an SSP, Criteo focuses more on retargeting.

Here’s how Criteo monitors users
And here’s how it matches data on user behaviors

More info in the thread below:

Supported Ad Inventory: Social media, video, display, web, and mobile
Anti-fraud/Safety Measures for Publishers: Criteo uses advanced image recognition technology to filter unsafe content from publishers’ digital properties

SSP Supported Ad Inventory Safety Measures for Publishers Suitable For
PubMatic CTV, OTT, display, video, addressable, mobile, and native Real-time scanning and strategic partnerships Both small and large publishers
Google Ad Manager Video, mobile, display, and native IAB ads.txt standard, SafeFrame, and HTTPS Large publishers
Criteo Social media, video, display, web, and mobile Advanced image recognition technology Small publishers

Stop wasting time on manual data collection. Automate Criteo reporting with Improvado.

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Ad Exchanges

Ad Exchanges position themselves as the intermediary between advertisers and publishers. 

Publishers come to ad exchanges to submit ad impressions which are then presented to advertisers for bidding in real-time.

Here are some of the best ad exchanges in the industry.


Originally called AppNexus, Xandr is a leading advertising platform offering a full stack of programmatic advertising services. This means it provides services, such as a DSP, SSP, and an Ad Exchange.

As an Ad Exchange, Xandr serves over 11.4 billion ad impressions daily.

One of its most notable features is its header bidding wrapper, which makes header bidding more convenient and efficient for publishers. The platform supports different ad inventory, including video, banner, audio, native, and more.

Xander partners with White Ops, an MRC-accredited company, for ensuring brand safety across its marketplace.

Stream 130 different metrics from Xandr to get the most in-depth view into your marketing performance with Improvado.

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SmartyAds provides a white-label ad exchange platform, Smart Hub, which has recorded over 25,000 publishers and 2 billion impressions daily.

It also serves as a full-stack programmatic ad tech platform, offering services as a DSP and SSP to both advertisers and publishers. The platform is compatible with a wide range of traffic types and ad formats, including video, banner, audio, native, push, pop, and more.

Compared to Xandr, SmartyAds offers a more comprehensive collection of security and anti-fraud features and partnerships to make the marketplace safer for publishers and advertisers.


PubMatic makes a second appearance in this guide, thanks to its incredible capabilities as a full-stack ad tech platform.

As an ad exchange, PubMatic has established itself as an industry leader with over 171 billion ad impressions per day. Publishers benefit from its ease-of-use, DMP integrations, and open-source header bidding.

On the advertisers' side, PubMatic offers integration with various security tools to prevent fraudulent practices and ensure brand safety.

Ad Exchange Impressions Per Day Supported Inventory Security Tools
Xandr 11.4 billion Video, banner, audio, native, digital, and more White Ops
SmartyAds 2 billion Video, banner, audio, native, push, pop, and more Pixalate, Botman, Protected Media, Forensiq, TMT, GeoEdge, White Ops, Fraudlogix.
Pubmatic 171 billion CTV, OTT, display, video, addressable, mobile, native, and more Real-time scanning and strategic partnerships

Data Management Platforms (DMPs)

DMPs are less talked about in ad tech. But they're equally as important. Advertisers use all kinds of data when developing a campaign strategy to ensure their ads are relevant to their prospects.

DSPs automatically place bids for ad spaces in the marketplace, but to ensure that the purchased ads are aimed at the right demographic, these platforms take advantage of data supplied by DMPs. Publishers, on the other hand, use DMPs to store and analyze user data to get a better understanding of their website visitors.

Here are some of the most popular DMPs in the industry.

Audience Studio by Salesforce

Salesforce is widely known for its CRM system. However, the company also offers a Data Management Platform for advertisers.

Formerly known as Salesforce DMP, Audience Studio allows advertisers to capture data from any source and segment this data using machine learning algorithms. It also offers a native consent management framework to help advertisers maintain transparency and trust with their customers.


Lotame is an industry-leading DMP that offers a wide range of services, including audience management, data marketplace, and identity resolution.

It allows its users to access first-party data from sources like emails, CRMs, social media, apps, and more. It also provides the opportunity to expand on available data through its data marketplace.

Lotame’s DMP, however, lacks live reporting features and loads relatively slowly. 


Alongside a DSP, theTradeDesk offers a DMP to help advertisers and publishers collect, manage, and activate their data in one place.

One of its most popular features is its lookalike modeling which allows you to discover new audiences based on insights from your existing audiences. It also offers a data marketplace where users can access high-quality audiences from data providers.

TheTradeDesk is actively expanding in the DMP sector. For example, TikTok and theTradeDesk launched a partnership not long ago. This collaboration will drive more brands to the platform and stimulate the growth of advertising on TikTok.

DMP Pricing Data Type Supported Data Marketplace
Audience Studio Custom First-party Not available
Lotame Custom First, second, and third-party data Available
theTradeDesk Custom First and third-party data Available

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Moving Forward: Automating Programmatic Analytics

Programmatic advertising, with its variety of platforms and ad placement options, generates a large chunk of data that marketing teams have to work with.  Without a well-thought analytics marketing analytics system in place, it becomes overly challenging to understand which campaigns or platforms drive your growth and which of them just drain your marketing budget. 

A marketing analytics platform can save you time and resources, and point your campaigns in the right direction. By eliminating all aspects of manual reporting, you can save hundreds of manhours on manual data collection, ensure the correctness of your reports, and spot trends with ease with automated dashboards provided by the platform. Here’s a 3-step guide on how you can automate your programmatic analytics today:

Three simple steps to automate programmatic analytics

Improvado is a marketing analytics platform that takes care of all heavy-lifting when it comes to marketing analytics. Here's how you can save hundreds of manhours and get in-depth insights into campaign performance in three simple steps:

Step 1: Schedule a consultation with the Improvado expert to discuss your marketing data sources, analytics needs, and BI tools your team uses.

Step 2: Once you've gained access to Improvado, pick the marketing platforms your team uses out of Improvado's library of 500+ marketing and sales data sources. Our platform will extract all metrics you need in just a few moments.

Step 3: Choose one of Improvado's dashboard templates depending on your use case. The platform will automatically load data to a visualization tool. Now, you're all set to start analyzing trends and finding insights into your campaign performance.

And voila, you have a real-time dashboard with a mix of data across the platforms you use (just like the one below).

Improvado's web analytics and paid ads performance dashboard
Automated insights-rich dashboards for a variety of marketing use cases

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is programmatic advertising platform?

A programmatic advertising platform is a technology that automates the process of buying and selling ad inventory through real-time bidding, using data and algorithms to target specific audiences.

What is programmatic marketing?

Programmatic marketing is a data-driven approach to targeting specific audiences with relevant ads in real-time through the use of automated technologies such as algorithms, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. It involves the buying and selling of digital advertising space through a real-time bidding system, allowing advertisers to reach their target audience across multiple channels and devices, with precision and at scale.

What is an ad exchange?

An ad exchange is a digital marketplace that allows advertisers and publishers to buy and sell advertising space through an auction-based system in real-time, using data and algorithms to match the right ad to the right user at the right time, enabling more efficient and targeted advertising.

Is criteo a DSP or SSP?

Criteo is a demand-side platform (DSP) that helps publishers monetize their site content by leveraging first-party data and audiences.

How do I choose a DSP?

When choosing a DSP, you have to consider factors such as your advertising goals, target audience, available budget, features offered by the platform, level of customer support, and the platform's reputation in the industry. After gathering all the information, research the potential options and identify the best DSP platform that fits your needs.

Which DSP is best?

The best DSP for your business would depend on your specific advertising goals, budget, and target audience. It is recommended that you evaluate various DSPs based on your business requirements and conduct thorough research to determine which platform aligns with your marketing goals. Some of the most popular platforms that you can start your research with are Adobe Advertising Cloud, MediaMath, and AdRoll.

Where to buy programmatic advertising?

Programmatic advertising can be bought through demand-side platforms (DSPs), which allow advertisers to access multiple ad exchanges and publishers through a single platform. Some popular DSPs include Adobe Advertising Cloud, MediaMath, and AdRoll. Additionally, social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter offer programmatic advertising options

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