Programmatic ads now account for more than half of eBay's advertising business, well ahead of the industry average of around 25% to 30%, according to Phuong Nguyen, the retailer's director of advertising in the UK.
That growth is partly down to the auction site’s extensive data on how consumers behave on the web, plus increasing interest from major brands such as O2.
"We’ve gone from programmatic being a tiny part of our business two years ago to more than half of business being traded programmatically," Nguyen told Marketing.
"EBay has outpaced rest of the market."
This comes from the question of how many Mad Men there are versus how many Math Men
The company has promoted its former advertising yield manager, Jean-Baptiste Goux, to become its new head of programmatic in what Nguyen describes as a "telling sign" of the industry.
Nguyen said: "This comes from the question of how many Mad Men there are versus how many Math Men. It isn’t one or the other. Where we’ll end up is somewhere in between, it’s about recognising the fact that the advertising machine is getting more intelligent."
EBay plans to introduce programmatic ads on mobile next year, a fast-growing area as brands seek to target consumers throughout their day.
Changing brand perceptions
Nguyen added that perceptions around programmatic were changing, with advertisers once concerned that the technology was only used to low-quality inventory.
He said: "That’s really been a big process of education. It’s just a more efficient way of buying."
According to estimates from the IAB, programmatic will account for 46% of display ads this year, up from 28% in 2013.
Neither Goux nor Nguyen would state how many of eBay’s advertisers were interested in programmatic, but said more major brands wanted to see the highly targeted data promised by the technology. One brand delving further into programmatic is O2, said Goux.
He said: "O2 have been spending more and more with us, doing some creative things across the trading desk, more targeted campaigns, really interesting stuff."