5 Trends That Will Affect Programmatic Marketing In 2014

2013 was kind to programmatic marketing. RTB display alone accounted for 20% of all digital ad spend. By 2017, it will reach 30%, or $9 billion.

Does this mean we’re finally reaching the age when all advertising dollars will flow through RTB pipes? Not quite. True, there promising trends that will move the needle forward, but others will hold us back at bit.  Here are five trends we predict will affect programmatic 2014.

#1: Explosive growth in mobile. Watch out for mobile display! Total mobile RTB spending, including Facebook and Twitter, will top $14.5 billion in 2017.

Meanwhile, tablets continue to fly off store shelves in record numbers (eMarketer reports 50% of all Internet users will also carry tablets by 2015). This means marketers need to plan for second-screen brand experiences ASAP.

How do we use our mobiles? Certainly to buy things; according to Chango data, Thanksgiving mobile sales were up 43%, and represented up to 25% of all online sales. Black Friday mobile sales were up 40%, and represented 40% of online sales.



Mobile’s lack of cookies will continue to confound marketers, of course, which will temper growth in the short run. However, logged-in applications (e.g., Twitter) and other cross-device mappings will ultimately solve that problem.

#2: Flow advertising will emerge. Flow advertising is an expansion of sequential advertising. The difference is that the first applies to all devices, while the latter was mostly limited to display ads. Flow advertising is actively promoted by DSPs, which spent much of 2013 documenting how ads viewed in one channel affect consumer response to ads seen in another.

The tactic seeks to identify the consumer’s path to conversion to determine the optimal sequence of ads across channels. With intense pressure to measure ROI and brand lift, we’ll see more marketers incorporate the tactic into their 2014 campaigns.

By definition, flow advertising demands programmatic marketing in order to follow the consumer across sites, channels and devices. 

#3 Native advertising won’t scale very well. The goal of native advertising is to mimic the content of the site where it appears. These days, there’s plenty of talk about scaling via automated buying, but if ads are truly native, automation won’t work.

We may see some templates and standards emerge in 2014, but on the whole, native advertising will be difficult to scale, and will have little use for public ad exchanges. Of course, private exchanges may be another matter.

#4 Mobile advertising will get better. Good news for every marketer who instinctively knows the best way to engage his or her consumer is on the mobile device: Mobile advertising will improve!

In 2014, marketers will see more rich-media ads, RTB units, and -- following Facebook’s lead -- more emphasis on the path to discovery.

Moreover, mobile advertising will scale over RTB pipes. The fact is, mobile campaigns are still difficult for publishers’ direct sales channels, but with a growing supply of mobile inventory now entering the ad exchanges, brands can launch massive mobile campaigns via RTB.

#5: Marketing silos will continue to disappear. As programmatic spreads into every corner in the digital world, traditional marketing lines will blur. Take Facebook as an example: if a consumer “likes” a Facebook ad, who gets the credit -- the social or paid media team?

Of course, resolving such conflicts is necessary to promote harmony within the marketing ranks, but I doubt they will slow down programmatic spending in 2014.

So those are my predictions for programmatic in 2014, based on my conversations with industry thought leaders and our clients account teams. Now, ask me who’ll win this year’s Super Bowl.

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