1. Programmatic hits the mainstream with marketers
Programmatic probably already hit the mainstream over the course of 2014, if we believe recent studies showing more than two in three marketers using programmatic in one form or another. It’s a safe bet this trend will continue in 2015 as more marketers realize the benefits of programmatic in their paid-media programs. Advanced markets have been leading the charge, but expect Asia to come on board this year at scale. However, it’s important to remember that there is a lot more to marketing than programmatic, and a lot more to programmatic than paid media. Which brings us to the next point.
2. Everything is data-driven and programmatic
2015 will be the year that data, audience and automation take centre stage across all marketing. Most marketers have been sitting on customer data for years, with many of those valuable data signals yet to be fully put to use. This year marketers will invest in data management platforms (DMPs) that allow them to own and activate their data across multiple channels. And understand their consumers in new and valuable ways. The bidder with built-in DMP may go the way of the Ford Model T as marketers begin to take full control of their data strategies. Programmatic techniques will also increasingly enter other aspects of marketing, from websites to display. More on this later.
3. Attribution killed the CTR?
Attribution has been a hot topic this year, and in 2015 we think advertisers will be investing even more to understand the full value of their marketing activity. There is no single right way to attribute value to different channels, but using insights acquired from multi-channel and post impression conversion tracking is increasingly worth the time and resource. Maybe 2015 will be the year the click finally dies? If programmatic wants to get involved in the big brand budgets—as we think it will—this has to be the case.
4. Brand money goes to programmatic
Brand money will finally come to programmatic in 2015. Driven primarily by video, and enabled by smart data, audience delivery and a grown-up approach to measurement. Site based buying won’t disappear quite yet, but, for the first time we may see the smarter brands making decisions to place TV-sized budgets into automated campaigns. Agencies will need to move more resources to programmatic, and fast. In fact, as a side note we think 2015 may see the rebirth of the media agency as programmatic forces sweeping changes to internal structures to service big brand advertisers and their programmatic budgets.
5. Fraud and viewability take the headlines
Marketers are more aware of fraud and viewability than ever before, and that’s a great thing for programmatic. Innovative new technologies are helping media buyers and sellers identify fraud, and the industry will continue to root out the bad actors. Of course not all fraud will be eradicated in 2015. Buyers have yet to wholeheartedly adopt techniques designed to protect them—another technology cost is never welcome. The sell side must continue to innovate to catch those who refuse to play by the rules. There will always be fraud in programmatic, but this may be the year that the industry finally gets serious.
6. Dynamic creative gets smarter
2015 will be the year that the data-driven programmatic techniques seen in media delivery start to impact our approach to creative. Dynamic creative has been used in retargeting for a while, but it has not yet been effectively applied to upper-funnel activity at scale. This year more creative will be personalised in real time, using variables such as audience segment, geo-location and demographics. We could call this an industry-wide shift toward making better use of data to deliver personalisation at all levels of the sales funnel. Long gone are the days when agencies could launch a carefully designed ad campaign and then leave it to run.
7. Mobile tracking and measurement are solved
The biggest hold up to mobile advertising budget to date has been the fragmented state of delivery and tracking. The first-party cookie issue, in other words. Over 2015 we expect advertising and marketing technology platforms will continue to make inroads into mobile tracking and measurement, particularly as mobile visits continue to grow. Device recognition and cross-platform attribution will not only make mobile more robust, but may do away with the idea of mobile as a separate channel altogether. The carrot? Facebook and Google deliver huge mobile revenues built on simple mobile delivery, and seamless mobile and desktop integration. There’s gold in them there hills.