Prep & Predictions Series: Six Things You Need To Know For 2016

It’s that time of year again, when everyone starts making predictions for the upcoming year, if they haven’t started already. It’s a good time to assess what’s on peoples' minds and what they think is likely to happen.

In RTBlog, we’ll be featuring a steady flow of predictions from all constituencies in the real-time marketing and programmatic ecosystem -- from vendors, publishers, research organizations, industry bodies, working groups, agency executives, third parties and analysts like my former colleague, Lauren Fisher, who is the programmatic analyst at eMarketer.

Lauren is one of the most thoughtful people I know on the programmatic universe and has covered the landscape for more than four years, written dozens of reports and led several webinars. She also comes from a place that I’m partial to — eMarketer — which offers insightful, objective third-party analysis that has been thoroughly vetted and edited with scrutiny and care. (Disclosure: I worked for eMarketer for seven years, completing my tenure as Director, Market Insights).



Lauren has worked closely with the forecasting team at eMarketer to craft projections for programmatic media growth in nearly all media channels. She has also tackled cross-device and cross-screen attribution, and is always learning -- and, most importantly, translating that learning to others. This isn’t easy because the ecosystem is always changing!

Here are six key trends Lauren believes you should think about in preparation for 2016:

1. Cross-device targeting that incorporates TV into the equation: “It’s going to become increasingly important to get television into that equation. Cross-device targeting drives the programmatic TV and connected TV discussion  -- digital video, OTT and connected-TV inventory. From a cross-device standpoint, the question for 2016 is: How do we begin to incorporate television into that equation? My guess is, we’ll see some movement on that front from Facebook and Google. They’re doing this really well with mobile and desktop. How will they expand this to include TV? Will this happen through partnerships, acquisitions or a combination of both?”

2. Mobile programmatic: “We need to get mobile apps into the broader [programmatic] ecosystem. With programmatic, we’ve done well with everything that’s cookie-driven -- but you get to apps, and there’s still a breakdown in reconciling those identities.  From a cross-device and programmatic perspective, it’s extremely messy when [a brand] wants to take an audience-based approach and reach someone where they are. 

This has had an effect on cross-device and attribution. Withthe amount of time spent in-app and money moving to mobile, advertisers can’t sit on the sidelines doing this as an isolated process. They have to track the issue on mobile apps and the mobile Web, know who the audiences are and measure them. We will see continued improvements there, and more of a push to tie mobile app inventory into the broader programmatic ecosystem. We will see more of a desire for cross-device attribution among major DSPs and SSPs.”

3. First-party data will continue to be a big deal for advertisers, and it will continue to draw the ad tech and marketing technology worlds closer together: “Advertisers want to identify their audiences across devices and screens. It’s critical. For most, first-party data is what’s powering that ability today. We will see marketers take first-party data that’s powered marketing initiatives like marketing automation, and bridge it with the ad-tech side like retargeting and programmatic media. Not only will this help with cross-device targeting, but it will also make coordination between marketing and advertising objectives even more essential.”

4. Brand marketers will continue to invest in data management platforms: “There’s a strong desire to own the data and keep it in-house. This will cause marketers to invest in more data management platforms that will be used to power their programmatic inventory. That’s the main reason for brands to bring programmatic in-house: They want to be in control of their data.

But not all brands are building trading desks. They’re bringing the data management aspect in-house. They realize that there’s still value in using a partner to execute the programmatic piece of it.”

5. Header bidding: "We’ll see more header bidding next year. Publishers are already interested in this, given the potential to make more money using programmatic in this way to determine the value of their inventory. Exchanges will get equipped to participate.

This has the potential to give advertisers greater access to some of that inventory. I’m interested in seeing how this works out with some of the more private programmatic deals already in place. In some cases, header bidding might trump those private deals, so that’s something to think through.”

6. The rise ofnative programmatic: “It will emerge at scale. A lot of people are talking about native as a workaround for ad blocking. Native programmatic is primed to take off. Technically, you have the development, and the platforms are looking to incorporate the necessary protocol: the OpenRTB 2.3 native ad specifications. Buyers and sellers are starting to adopt those specifications. In 2016, we’ll see native trading with a lot more volume than in 2015, specifically in in-feed units.”

What are your predictions? Comment below or contact me at

2 comments about "Prep & Predictions Series: Six Things You Need To Know For 2016".
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  1. Henry Blaufox from Dragon360, November 18, 2015 at 9:57 a.m.

    Agreed on all, with the possible exception of header bidding, for which a caveat may be in order. This technology is hard to apply correctly, and publishers are now encountering clutter from the js code they've added, which can cause slower load time. The slowdown runs counter to what users want and U|X best practices. It leads to increased site abandonment, which in turn has a deletrious effect on ad viewability. So unless or until header bidding is made easier and far more manageable, it may turn into another passing tech fad. Publishers without in house or outside tech staff to properly manage this may drop the technology first.

  2. Mike Lloyd from Self, November 18, 2015 at 10:58 a.m.

    You do realize you can block native advertising? Not sure why everyone thinks that native ads will be the savior to online advertising. 

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