Commentary

My Programmatic Predictions For 2016

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, December 10, 2015

2015 was an amazing year for programmatic. What was once thought to be just a buzz term has become a $15.43-billion-dollar industry. Programmatic’s rapid rate of change may seem to make predictions difficult, but as we look to 2016 there are clear trends and developments that will be difficult to ignore.  

Ad blocking will still be top-of-mind. Ad blocking made major headlines in 2015, most of them asking how ad-tech companies are going to respond to it. In 2016, we’re going to see the industry’s answer firsthand.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau admitted it needed better rules to rein in disruptive ads, launching the LEAN Ad Program to guide the next phase of advertising technical standards for the global digital advertising industry.

Some ad tech companies are even working to use programmatic to deliver ads to platforms such as mobile apps because they can’t be blocked. This logic is also being applied to the drive for native programmatic. The key to programmatic success in 2016 will be in delivering an ad experience that doesn’t obstruct the content. The companies that can provide that service will thrive.  

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Pre-roll video will start to decline. Pre-roll is one of the most widely used form of programmatic video, but that isn’t going to last. Those in the industry know that, even though pre-roll generates higher views, the format is frustrating to users because it disrupts their content experience. So pre-roll may generate a higher number of views on paper, but it also drives up user frustration. In 2016, the priority will be ensuring that the content experience remains fluid and uninterrupted, so brands are going to be looking for more innovative ways to distribute video content.

High-impact programmatic creative will spread.  Programmatic technology has come such a long way in the past year, and it’s expanding into new formats that advertisers will use to deliver a better experience.

Formats like connected television, billboards, branded skins and native programmatic are helping to focus the power of programmatic into ads that communicate brand messages in a way that draws interest.

Some of these new platforms, like connected television, have been slow to monetize, so the influx of programmatic technology is going to drive industry innovation in addition to revenue.

Header bidding will streamline. Header bidding, the practice of publishers offering inventory to multiple ad exchanges simultaneously before making calls to their ad servers, is becoming more enticing for publishers looking to squeeze more value from their inventory.

Still, the practice comes with a price. As it stands now, header bidding is achieved through adding another line of javascript, which results in longer load times. Because of this, publishers will be forced to look for ways to streamline the header bidding process without compromising user experience. This will be especially important in 2016 as advertisers become increasingly sensitive to ensuring that their ads don’t disrupt the content viewing experience.

Brands will be able to buy 100% viewable impressions programmatically. Many programmatic platforms are now offering CPVM (cost-per-viewable-impression), demonstrating the industry’s desire to ensure quality results, which is becoming increasingly important in the age of content blindness, ad blocking and ad fraud.

The natural next step in this process is to start providing inventory guaranteed to actually be seen, as opposed to just viewable in the user’s line of sight. This means putting ads in areas where viewers are guaranteed to be paying attention.

The obvious example of this is pre-roll, but pre-roll is on the edge of a cliff because it doesn’t provide this visibility in a responsible way. The successful advertisers of 2016 will use programmatic to put ads in visible inventory in a subtle, enjoyable way.

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