Programmatic advertising is a key part of many marketers’ domestic strategy – but the benefits of programmatic advertising for driving international growth are less understood. Global marketers may be missing out.

Since 2021, programmatic spend has seen a projected growth of 18% globally, totalling $493 billion by the end of 2022. And it keeps increasing, projected to grow by another $314.27 billion between 2022 and 2026.

Companies large and small use programmatic to micro-target their audiences domestically. But they may be missing out on the unique advantages of programmatic marketing for international growth.

Here’s how international programmatic can help your company meet its global growth goals, important limitations to consider, and what you need to know before getting started.


Programmatic is a type of digital advertising that allows for the automated buying and selling of online advertising placements across an array of digital channels and publishers. While it offers the same benefits of many other digital strategies, there are some capabilities that set it apart:

Targeting. One of the biggest benefits of programmatic advertising is the targeting capabilities. And, more specifically, its ability to layer multiple sources of audience data. Like other platforms, it allows you to leverage first-party data – but unlike other platforms, it doesn’t have as strict of minimums, making it ideal for micro-segmentation and account-based marketing. (For example, some platforms require you to have at least 1,000 visitors before you can run a retargeting campaign. Programmatic advertising’s minimums are less strict.)

Inventory. Programmatic placements run on multiple ad exchanges, so there is a wider inventory available. (This sets it apart from platforms like the Google Display Network, where ads can only run on the Google Ad Exchange, limiting your reach.) So you can achieve a greater reach despite having a more targeted audience.

Out-of-home placements. With programmatic, digital billboards can be effectively leveraged for omnichannel marketing strategies that span both in-person and digital placements.

Sequential messaging. Programmatic allows marketers to do full-funnel messaging through a single programmatic campaign.

Competitor campaigns. On some platforms, advertising is subject to strict trademark and domain restrictions in both creative and messaging. But not with programmatic. Because these types of ads aren’t flagged, marketers have the ability to run competitor placements without paying a high cost per click for large, impression-based visibility.

Predictable cost. Programmatic costs are pre-negotiated and fixed, allowing you predictable, efficient advertising reach.



The most effective international marketing strategy is an integrated one, encompassing multiple tactics. If you’re going international, you’ll certainly be establishing your brand on other platforms in your target markets – like locally relevant search engines and social channels. While you’re doing so, programmatic advertising can bridge the awareness gap because it is best served for impression-based delivery. It’s also a great way to reach new international customers that aren’t covered by other channels in-market, given the additional placement opportunities. Programmatic can supplement other in-market digital efforts where maintaining an active, in-language presence isn’t yet feasible for your team. Many global programmatic demand-side platform (DSP) ad exchanges even encompass a range of social platforms within their inventory.

With its retargeting capabilities, programmatic marketing is also effective for increasing brand recognition and affinity in a new market. With sequential messaging capabilities, marketers can guide international users from brand recognition through to lower funnel, educational messaging as frequency increases.


Your product or service may be in a vertical that’s not well known in your target market. In these instances, education on your offering is likely needed. That’s where international programmatic can help you build in-market awareness and demand around your offering.

This is especially effective in international markets where industry- or service-related search terms are low, limiting the short-term effectiveness of paid search or SEO efforts.

Over time, your brand-building efforts (including programmatic) in the market will drive local interest, engagement, and demand.


As with most aspects of international marketing, there are key considerations and potential pitfalls to address as you determine whether programmatic is a viable option for your brand and your global marketing strategy.


One of programmatic’s key benefits is the ability to target audiences effectively. But that capability can vary significantly between markets.

Geotargeting: Is programmatic available in your international target markets? Some programmatic DSPs don’t run ads in specific locales. So you’ll need to vet vendors to ensure they cover your key markets (as well as the ones you’re considering for future expansion.)

Local market data privacy laws: International programmatic enables access to very specific audiences through a variety of data partners, but certain markets do not allow for specific types of data sharing. For example, marketers targeting US audiences can retarget users based on their device ID or location. But this type of targeting isn’t permitted in European Union member countries because of GDPR


You may not be able to target users with the same precision in some international markets as you can in the US. But you can still reach your in-market audiences through programmatic with a publisher-based display strategy.

Some international DSPs allow advertisers to specify which publishers in their ad exchange that they’d like to advertise on based on contextual targeting. This enables the targeted display of ads on publisher sites that match your industry’s vertical and audience’s interest.

Here, local intel is critical to understanding where your in-market audience lives online. And which sites are both available through your chosen DSP and safe for your brand.

In the US, groups like Check My Ads help to ensure that brands’ ads don’t appear on sites that will negatively impact brand perception or sentiment. Internationally, you’ll want to be sure that your chosen DSP is on top of brand safety concerns in your target market. And that you have access to in-market experts that can flag any concerns.


Your US domestic creative won’t resonate in other international markets – even with translation.

You’ll need to adapt your creative to make sure the messaging, visuals, and CTAs are culturally relevant – and appropriate – to your target audience in each market. 

Here, it’s crucial to have the guidance of local market experts. They’ll ensure your messaging, fonts, colors, symbols, and imagery meet the expectations of your local audiences. 

When developing international programmatic creative, make sure your messaging matches the level of brand awareness and/or segment maturity in the market. Your creative should help to differentiate your brand from local competitors.


Though awareness is often the primary goal of programmatic marketing, you’ll need to ensure that the customer journey for your in-market audience is localized. That doesn’t mean you have to translate everything on your website. But it does mean that the key milestones on the customer journey should be adapted for the local audience, inspiring users to take the actions you want in order to achieve desired conversions. Whether that’s engaging, following, subscribing, or purchasing.

Consider how international programmatic advertising factors into the overall fabric of your media mix. Global marketing strategies and tactics are most effective when they’re approached holistically – not in a silo.


International programmatic can be an effective tool for global marketers to meet their in-market growth goals. With the right DSP, strategy, creative, and in-country experts, you’ll be able to reach your key international audiences on the platforms they use every day.

Interested in finding out how other companies have driven international growth with programmatic advertising? Get in touch!