Last year was truly a breakthrough year for programmatic advertising. We saw an increasing number of global brands embracing programmatic and publically entering the marketplace. Figures from the IAB showed that programmatic advertising in the UK grew to £1bn, double the size of the previous year. Display advertising growth, primarily driven by programmatic, continued to outstrip search advertising growth by ever increasing amounts.
So 2015 looks set to be the year when programmatic breaks out of its niche and becomes an established answer to digital marketing goals. There are a few topics that I think will dominate the headlines in the next 12 months:
1. Brands take more control
Much as brands don’t want to do their own TV buying, they don’t want to do their own programmatic buying either. However, what they do want is a say in the ad technology and data that is used in their campaigns. Brands growing demand for greater control means we will begin to see them own parts of the technology. Companies willing to work with a range of programmatic platforms will prove to be the most attractive partners for these brands.
2. Progress on fraud and viewability
The entire industry knows that fraud and viewability are major problems and, as a collective, we are getting better at recognising them. In 2015 we can expect to see standards agreed to take action on these problems as a group or risk stymieing the growth of the industry as advertisers will lose confidence. Expect industry bodies such as the IAB and ISBA to be vocal in this area.
3. Offline and online measurement finally unite
One of the holy grails of online marketing has always been to join up measurement of what we do online with what happens outside of the digital world, in the physical world of stores where many brands live. In 2015 measurement of this type will finally start to become a reality. Credit and loyalty card companies will start to use their store and product level transactional data as a measurement mechanic for online advertising facilitated by companies like (recent Oracle acquisition) Datalogix and Dunnhumby.
4. Cross-device reality
Statistical and probabilistic cross-device targeting becomes irrelevant. This is the year we can expect big moves from Google and Facebook to make their cross-device user data available for both buying and measurement. With both adservers and DSP’s, these two are primed to create powerful cross-device advertising stacks. This method of tracking users across devices by assigning unique user IDs rather than using a cookie, will prove far too attractive for brands to ignore. It will be interesting to see how these products come to market, undoubtedly bundled with other tools and sparking an anti-trust debate.
5. Programmatic mobile
According to the IAB, more than 30% of all programmatic ad spend was on mobile in 2014 but to date this has been driven by app download businesses. With cross device becoming a reality, the mobile programmatic market will see continued growth driven but this time driven by a new set of non-mobile advertisers confident in the metrics and measurement of this emerging media channel.
The recent press has marked programmatic’s development through its teenage years, with the resulting growing pains. This year, as key technology and process are joining up, we will begin to see programmatic flourish into something advertisers won’t be able to live without.