Winkler says that RTB has evolved in two ways over the last year. “First, we’re seeing ad networks getting into the game. Even though they’re a little late and they have some differentiating to do, it’ll be interesting to see how their legacy client and agency relationships approach the change.”
Second, Winker says he is increasingly seeing publishers less shy about embracing programmatic. “Publishers are coming around to see programmatic and RTB as an opportunity rather than a threat when done properly.”
The biggest driver for branding in RTB, says Winkler, is a recognition that branding requires getting the right ad in front of the right person, which means a focus on elements including viewability, frequency and accuracy of the targeting. “If you’re selling tampons, you want to make darn sure that you’re reaching women,” he notes. “Targeting, frequency and viewability are all things that programmatic and RTB are well poised to deliver on. It turns out that programmatic’s greatest strengths makes it pretty ideal for branding, not just direct response.”
Winkler sees programmatic opportunities in new optimization models -- which, for example, allow brands to optimize based on exposure and length of exposure rather than classic metrics of clicks or leads. He foresees using the data “to surface what I call ‘searing consumer insights’ – ones that can change how we market to our prospects, not just in digital but beyond.”
The great promise of RTB in automation “allows our media buyers to focus on innovation and creativity, allowing the rest of their job to be primarily done by the robots,” Winkler adds.
But automation is not without its hurdles. “We still haven’t cracked the botnet issue,” he points out. “Viewability is not exactly where we want it to be. And those elements tend to muddy the conversation and undermine our conversations with our clients.”
Another challenge with RTB is that the number of advertising options is increasing faster than automation is being adopted, explains Winkler. “At this point, media buying is only getting more complicated – but it’s getting more complicated at a slightly slower pace, thanks to programmatic,” he adds.
Over the next year, Winkler anticipates that we’ll get closer to fixing the viewability issue -- “either from the publisher side via updated layouts, or, more likely, from the ad-serving side, where ad servers won’t serve ads that won’t be viewable.”
He is also expecting to see a rise in specialty players, which will essentially be vertical programmatic solutions. “Vertical programmatic will be the next frontier, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see that box on next year’s LUMAscape,” he concludes. “Verticals that require special care and service, like pharma, may work here. There’s a great opportunity to do something for a category that simply has not had the ability to invest in the space.”