Commentary

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

Speaking at OMMA RTB in San Francisco today, Brian Monahan, managing partner, intelligence practice at Magna Global, spoke about the growth that RTB industry will see in years to come.

Magna Global predicts that RTB will be a $3.3 billion industry in the US in 2013, with YOY growth of 39% (RTB video is not included in these numbers, just display in the US). The company predicts that the $3.3 billion will grow to over $7 billion by 2017. "We think that RTB display is about a quarter of the display market overall in the US, and think it will be up to half in five years," Monahan said. 

Monahan said that programmatic buying is the second fastest growing sector in the industry, behind mobile. There still seems to be a wall between programmatic and mobile, but once that wall comes down, Monahan said, "That's really going to open up the growth of the RTB industry as it rides along with mobile."

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One of the most interesting points from Monahan's keynote was the fact that according to Magna's research, humans come across 2.3 ads per waking minute. He said that companies are "paying for ads that people don't even pay attention to," because the consumers end up ignoring many of the ads on purpose.

The ads are purposely ignored because it would be impossible to function as a human being if fully engaged with 2.3 ads per minute. Research and numbers aren't necessary to know that media is more prominent in day-to-day life than it was 5, 10, 20, or 30 years ago. Monahan called it "overwhelming," and added that technology is necessary to leverage all of it.

"This bombardment of advertising is impacting the value of the ad units themselves," Monahan said. "it doesn't just impact an agency or an advertiser's business…it also impacts the media owner's business."

This all reminds me of the famous quote from Spider-man (or Voltaire, or FDR, or Jesus, who really knows?): "With great power comes great responsibility."

If real-time is going to be around for the long haul, humans need to take "great responsiblity" in laying the groundwork of this "great power," which is RTB (and every other buzzword for real-time technologies).

Monahan said that the ideals of RTB stretch beyond the advertising industry. "Fundamentally, what we are trying to do is build an engine to predict the future. It can be applied to any high-stakes decision that an enterprise has to make."

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