Instagram Icon TikTok Icon Youtube Icon

Programmatic vs PPC Advertising: What’s the Difference?

Kate Patrimonio
Written By
Kate Patrimonio
Published On
Sep 22, 2023
Coins laying on top of a pink phone

The more technology evolves, the bigger advertising becomes. From its humble beginnings in print media, advertising now has an ever-present influence and global reach thanks to the digital world. But no matter how simple it may seem on our screens, digital ads can be challenging to maximize in business.

Good thing exciting new ad methods are readily available at our fingertips, like programmatic and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. But what exactly are these models and how can you apply them to your marketing strategy and ad campaigns? 

Here we break down programmatic ads and PPC ads, the difference between the two, and which one suits your business goals the best.

What is Programmatic Advertising?

Ever wondered how online ads are weirdly compatible with you? That’s called programmatic advertising, where a software buys an ad space, selects optimal ad placements, and targets specific markets or audiences through automation. These ads can also be customized according to campaign needs and/or key performance indicators (KPIs). 

Real-Time Bidding

Programmatic ads are facilitated by real-time bidding, or RTB, where advertisers can automatically buy ad inventory from publishers on a cost-per-thousand-impressions, or CPM, basis. RTBs are instant auctions where supply-side platforms (SSPs), ad exchanges, and demand side platforms (DSPs) work together to bring your online ads to hundreds and thousands of potential buyers.

Localhost dashboard showing a website’s stats on visits, demographics, and other metrics.

Advantages of Programmatic Ads

There are so many ways you can utilize programmatic ads across marketing funnels. But to keep it short and simple, here are six ways you can leverage programmatic advertising for fast results.

  • Find the right market: Through data and algorithms, programmatic ads can target specific demographics, interests, and user behaviours that fit your brand. Increase your engagement and conversion by placing relevant ads with the right audience.
  • Optimize with real-time reports: Advertisers can easily adjust target parameters based on actual performance data. This detailed report includes total impressions, conversions, clicks, and other metrics that are helpful for improving your campaign’s effectiveness.
  • Make data-driven decisions: Since analytics is also part of performance reports, you can enhance your strategy with data-driven decisions. You can also study user behaviour and apply your new insights to your next campaign.
  • Increase your reach and scale: In a blink of an eye, programmatic ads can be placed on countless sites that are viewed by millions of people every day. Add precise targeting, real-time reporting, and optimization to the mix and you’ll see massive growth in your return on investment (ROI)
  • Cost-effective ad spend: No matter how niche your product or service is, there will be a space for it on the Internet. Programmatic ad buying software will find you ad spaces that fit your budget and parameters.
  • Automation and efficiency: Gone are the days of manual ad buying, where you had to negotiate with publishers for ad spaces. Programmatic advertising streamlines and automates the entire process in one place.

What is PPC Advertising?

Ever wondered why some Google search results are labelled as ‘Ads’? That’s pay-per-click, or PPC, advertising and it helps provide targeted visits to an advertiser’s site. PPC ads generate website traffic and direct sales via search engines, social media platforms, websites, and many more. 

Related Article: 12 Google Search Ads Metrics To Discuss with Your Agency

Search Ads

Search ads are a popular form of PPC advertising that ties certain keywords to a website or web page. Advertisers bid for an ad placement in search engines like Google, so that their product or service will appear in related keyword searches. 

Related Article: 4 Simple Ways To Improve Your Google Search Ranking

Display Ads

Display ads are another form of PPC advertising that appear as media visuals on websites. Depending on the advertiser, display ads can be a mix of text, images, and videos. 

Social Ads

Social ads are a new kind of PPC advertising that places ads on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. These ads reach their target audience more effectively due to social media’s user profile data.

Laptop showing Facebook Ads homepage, beside it is a pen, camera, and glass of water.

Advantages of PPC Advertising

There’s a lot of potential in PPC ads, especially if used correctly. Maximize your results by utilizing these six key advantages:

  • Capture your target audience: Got your ideal user in mind? Choose keywords, demographics, and other criteria that describe your target audience. 
  • High visibility across the web: High rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs) are an effective way to gain brand awareness immediately after a campaign. 
  • Drive impact with analytics: Discover just how effective your campaign is with real-time performance reports. Track engagement, clicks, impressions, and other metrics to power your business decisions.
  • Room for creativity and flexibility: Advertisers can experiment with different ad formats, ad copy, and even targeting options. Find the best combination to match your brand identity and marketing goals.
  • Presence in online marketplaces: Regardless if your business is new or small, anyone can bid on relevant keywords and appear on relevant pages. It’s a great way to gain exposure and attract new customers.
  • Strict cost control: Since you can set a maximum bid for both clicks and budget, PPC ads are a great way for businesses with tight budgets to maintain costs. 

The Verdict: Which Type of Digital Advertising is Better?

The choice between the two depends on specific business objectives, resources, and marketing strategies.

Programmatic advertising harnesses the power of automation and data-driven decision-making to optimize ad placements, target specific audiences, and streamline the ad buying process. It offers precise audience targeting, real-time optimization, scalability, and efficiency, making it a preferred choice for advertisers seeking advanced campaign management and broader reach.

On the other hand, PPC advertising focuses on cost control and immediate visibility by charging businesses only for clicks on their ads. It allows for targeted audience reach, budget flexibility, measurable results, and remarketing opportunities. PPC campaigns provide businesses with a level playing field to compete in the online marketplace and generate quick results.

Ultimately, a well-rounded advertising strategy may involve a combination of both programmatic and PPC ads, leveraging their respective strengths. The key lies in understanding the unique attributes of each approach and aligning them with business goals to effectively connect with the desired audience, drive conversions, and achieve marketing success in the dynamic digital landscape.

Related Article: Is My Site Ready For Paid Advertising?

Partner With Us Today!

There’s no right or wrong way of digital advertising, but working with The Influence Agency will help you go straight to success. From brand discovery to campaign strategy, we’ve got you covered! Our team of experts will take your projects to the next level through Google Ads, search engine optimization, remarketing, and many more. 

Give us a call today to start your digital advertising journey.



  • Kate Patrimonio

    Kate Patrimonio is a Copywriter at The Influence Agency. When she's not wrestling her pen at work, she's crocheting something cute at @kitschy.kitty on Instagram.

Share this


  • Kate Patrimonio

    Kate Patrimonio is a Copywriter at The Influence Agency. When she's not wrestling her pen at work, she's crocheting something cute at @kitschy.kitty on Instagram.

Read more from Digital Marketing


Stay up to date with the latest marketing, social media tips, guides and news.


Location Map - The Influence Agency
Footer Image 1

Connect With Us!

    Footer Image 2
    The Influence Agency: Influencer Marketing Toronto