2015 Programmatic Predictions

The programmatic ad industry's 2014 predictions were hit or miss, and it's time to once again break out the crystal ball and peer into the new year. From ad fraud and viewability to programmatic TV and private marketplaces, these predictions touch on some of the most popular topics today. 

M&As will continue to trump IPOs. I took this space yesterday to note how mergers and acquisitions in the ad tech space trumped IPOs in 2014 -- especially over the back half of the year -- and it’s a trend that will continue in 2015. That’s not to say there will be no notable IPOs in the programmatic space next year, but more companies will find their “exit” in buyers rather than public offerings.

Ad fraud will remain a major issue. Marketers are relatively split on whether ad fraud will decrease or increase; The 614 Group and AdMonsters found that 58% of marketers believe ad fraud will decrease next year, while 42% believe it won’t.

Count me as one that doesn’t believe ad fraud will decrease next year. In fact, “ad fraud” is a relatively new phrase.

Other than a few scattered mentions between 2002 and 2012, the term “ad fraud” rarely appeared in MediaPost, Adweek or Advertising Age articles until midway through 2013. 

Some form or another of fraud has existed for years (see “click fraud”), but programmatic technologies have ushered in “ad fraud.” And now “ad fraud” is the second-biggest concern marketers have heading into 2015, thanks to the fact that it threatens to cost marketers worldwide $6.3 billion next year.

There will be two ad tech players that will rise above the rest by the end of 2015 with a full compliment of offerings. The frontrunners must be Google, AOL, Facebook, Yahoo and Twitter, but perhaps new major players will emerge rapidly -- including Apple. Each of these companies made strides to better their programmatic offerings in 2014, although those plans may not come to full fruition until 2015.

Yahoo and Facebook both bought video ad platforms in the second half of 2014, AOL has a multichannel ad platform prepped for launch in early 2015, Apple has geared itself for a programmatic push and Google continues to have a hand across the board. The “data and tech” arms race will never truly cease, but with 2014 serving as a major prep-for-the-future year, 2015 is when we can expect to see most of those plans in motion.

Viewability will rise, but not to 70%. The IAB wants marketers to aim for 70% viewability in 2015, but the programmatic ad market sputtered through 2014 just trying to crack 50%. 2015 has been dubbed a “transition” year for viewability, and while I think a renewed interest in ad quality will help rates rise, color me 70% skeptical that the goal will be met.

Programmatic will account for 5% of TV budgets. Programmatic TV has been experimental to date, and despite the plethora of programmatic TV-related news in December 2014, Geoff Coco, former head of partnerships at Facebook’s Atlas and current director of product management at WideOrbit, told Real-Time Daily that programmatic spend “probably [accounts for] less than 1% of overall spend on the medium.”

However, Coco predicts that programmatic TV could grow by 2% to 3% in the first couple of years, and Strategy Analytics predicts programmatic will account for 20% of TV ad spend by 2018.

With IPG’s Magna Global, Havas, GroupM and others experimenting with buying TV via programmatic, and with broadcasters such as ESPN announcing it will sell limited portions of “SportsCenter” ads via online auctions, the road from “experiments” to “standard practice” is not hard to envision.

The turn to programmatic direct and private marketplaces will be faster than expected. As noted in my previous predictions, I’m skeptical when it comes to improvements regarding viewability rates and ad fraud, both of which are larger issues on open ad exchanges compared to their private counterparts. That will cause more brands and ad-buyers to follow in the footsteps of GroupM and explore private exchanges and “programmatic direct” technologies.

"2015" image via Shutterstock.

2 comments about "2015 Programmatic Predictions".
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  1. Matthew Goldstein from MSG INC, January 1, 2015 at 7:47 a.m.

    i think 2015 will be the year that marketers finally realize they need to capture more raw ad server data in their own systems.

  2. Keith Pieper from IMM, January 12, 2015 at 7:27 p.m.

    I think your estimate of 5% programmatic TV spend is a fair amount - much more realistic than the over-optimism from others in the biz. The technology might be there, but it's very fragmented and there is significant inertia within TV and sales orgs that will slow adoption.

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