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.
While there was a flurry of "exits" in the ad tech space in 2014, most came in the form of mergers and acquisitions, and only a handful of large companies in the space went through an IPO -- namely Rubicon Project and TubeMogul. It's possible that companies sought buyers rather than IPOs because of the track record that current publicly traded ad tech firms are putting together.
We're awash in 2015 predictions, but are we so quick to forget 2014? Luckily, we have a set of programmatic predictions for 2014 to look back on. We had a spot-on prediction about in-house programmatic teams, another about viewability that missed the mark and several others that were a blend of right and wrong.
Corroborating other reports detailing programmatic's widespread use, Undertone has released survey results showing that over 80% of publishers, agencies and marketers have all executed digital ads via programmatic in the last year. Other reports have pegged the figure as high as 90%, and local publishers may be a little bit behind at 62%, but all the reports seem to indicate that in 2014, over three-fourths of the entire marketplace used programmatic for digital advertising.
The question always asked about "programmatic TV" -- other than whether it deserves to be called "programmatic" and should instead be called "data-driven" -- revolves around how much TV marketers are actually spending through automation. An AOL survey from earlier this year noted that 13% of advertisers and 7% of brands are currently using programmatic for TV advertising, though no sense of spend was revealed.
Marketers are increasingly putting their trust in technology to run successful digital ad campaigns. Nearly half (46%) of all advertisers believe that having a deeper in-house knowledge of digital ad technology is the most important factor in bringing digital advertising success. That's more than the 27% of advertisers that feel having the most talented media agency is most important when it comes to digital ad success, per a new report from AudienceScience.
Earlier this year, American Express set a theoretical goal of shifting 100% of its online ad budget to programmatic, "Advertising Age" first reported. AmEx set its sights as high as possible to create an "aspiration [more] than a real target." Since then, AmEx has become one of the 10 biggest spenders in programmatic.
How many holiday gift ideas have been spoiled beforehand because of retargeted ads? You'd have to poll a slew of consumers to get an accurate read, but it nearly happened to me last night, so I'm willing to bet it's happened to a fair number of people. The interesting side of this conundrum is that it reveals technology as, well, not human.
The similarities between the programmatic ad marketplace and Wall Street have been detailed several times before, and the analogy arose again yesterday during AOL's mini conference on the state of programmatic and where it believes AOL is headed in 2015. AOL predicts that "forward-thinking brands will insist on data ownership" next year, an interesting prediction because the case could be made that this already happened in 2014 -- something that had a material impact in the marketplace.
"Mobile retargeting" is commonly discussed as a difficult thing for marketers to do, as there is no easy way of targeting the right consumer; mobile devices lack cookies -- a simple, straightforward way of tracking a single consumer. However, the majority of marketers have now found a way to make it work. Yet the key may be less about mobile and more about social.