Out of its infancy and into its adolescence, programmatic advertising has grown and it’s moving into new and exciting places. With programmatic TV, native advertising, cross-screen capabilities, more premium inventory options and a slew of data-powered products specifically designed to address particular advertiser needs, the old, display-driven race to the bottom has officially been left in the dust as more exciting and efficient options crop up for advertisers to bag better programmatic ROI.
Increasingly, data is the word of the day. Advertisers now have all sorts of avenues available to mine specific insights about niche audiences that they can hyper-target across screens and ad formats. Data makes messaging more effective, it increases relevance by being time sensitive and appropriate, improves understanding as to how consumers consume media across multiple devices and lets advertisers know how best to talk to them and on what device.
“What’s changed is the increase in availability of first party and third party data,” says Chris Dobson, CEO of Exchange Lab. “That first party data is the most important data set an advertiser has because it’s unique to them. What we do in the programmatic space is marry that data directly into the marketing effort to inform the way we run campaigns.”
“Modern digital advertising is about capturing as many signals as possible about the person who’s exposed to the ad and making predictions about how they’ll react or behave,” adds Bob Hall, SVP business development at RadiumOne.
And as data-powered programmatic options continue to drive advertisers’ ability to achieve greater campaign performance across multiple channels and ad formats by better capturing those signals, greater proportions of ad spend are being devoted to the space. According to eMarketer, programmatic will account for over half of total digital display ad spending (58%) in Canada and more than two-thirds (67%) in the U.S. in 2016, with mobile driving most of the growth in both markets. It also called for programmatic TV spending to more than double in the U.S. this year, with programmatic accounting for 56% of all digital video ad spending.
With more and more digital dollars being devoted to programmatic, the marketplace has become increasingly cluttered and competitive with new entrants popping up that are hungry for their slice of the pie. In terms of choosing from programmatic partners that exist in the space between brands and publishers, advertisers have more options than ever before. It can all be quite confusing and it puts a greater onus on programmatic companies to develop increasingly innovative solutions that help them stand out from the pack by proving the potency of their offerings.
“There are a lot of different middlemen, technologies and tools that go into actually delivering an ad,” says Hall, “and there’s a lot of pieces that have to be assembled to actually provide that proof to advertisers. You’ve got to innovate, you’ve got to provide a lot more value for the dollars spent on a particular job.”
That innovation isn’t just about a platform’s technology in and of itself. Increasingly, programmatic companies are going a step further. They’re collaborating with clients to develop unique programmatic solutions that combine their technology with data to solve very specific challenges in ways that reflect the evolution of the marketplace, whether it’s creating and productizing specific trading strategies, building dynamic creative capabilities or following people across screens with the same messaging in real-time.
“We’re moving away from a three-letter acronym world where people are a bit afraid to ask questions because they don’t have a clue what you’re talking about,” says Dobson. “The conversation needs to be about the advertiser’s business and then their confidence in our ability to deliver it, and that’s where I think you’ll see this go much more mainstream over the next few years.”
Let the programmatic wars begin.