When we look back at 2014, we might see it as the turning point, the year that brand advertisers finally woke up to the promise of programmatic. After all, it was in 2014 that Procter & Gamble made its big announcement: the brand-advertising giant would be devoting 70 percent of its digital media spend to programmatic.
But 2014 was just the beginning. This year promises to be a much bigger year for programmatic brand advertising with US advertisers set to spend $14.88 billion on programmatic display advertising, a 47.9% increase on 2014 according to a recent eMarketer report. Let’s take a look at four reasons why 2015 will be a big year for programmatic branding campaigns.
1. Programmatic Video is Exploding
In the past, brands often thought of programmatic as a tool designed only for display. Brand advertisers, the argument went, needed video to create the emotional bonds with consumers that are at the heart of great branding campaigns. Well, programmatic video has arrived — and in a very big way. In fact, programmatic video is growing more rapidly than anyone might have predicted only a year ago. This year it will grow by over 200% in the US alone according to the aforementioned eMarketer report recently released. Another recent report from BI Intelligence found that video will be key in driving the rapid expansion of programmatic in the coming years, with programmatic video spending hitting a remarkable $3.9 billion by 2018.
2. Premium Inventory is Expanding
Increased premium inventory is also smoothing the transition into programmatic for brand advertisers. In addition to being able to run programmatic campaigns on Facebook and Twitter, brand advertisers can now choose from a wide-range of top-notch publishers. Condé Nast has been leading the way in programmatic premium for several years now. And in December of 2014, News Corp., American Media, and Wenner Media began to open up premium inventory for programmatic buying as well. Another programmatic recruit (since 2014), Time Inc. has gone one step further, allowing marketers to buy print ads with the same automated technology used to buy digital ads. Simply put, the days when programmatic was limited to remnant inventory are over.
3. We’re Finally Starting to Address the Viewability Problem
Brand advertisers have also stayed away from programmatic because of fears that they could end up paying for ads that were never viewed. And, in fairness, there has been good reason for this concern in the past. The programmatic industry was a little too slow in pushing back against bad actors and creating more trustworthy metrics. But 2014 was a significant year for the industry. The Interactive Advertising Bureau’s new Anti-Fraud Principles are a major step forward. There’s no doubt that some negative players will always remain, but the new IAB guidelines – built around fraud detection, source identification, and process transparency – are already having an impact. And the IAB’s Anti-Malware Working Group promises to make a big difference as well.
4. Programmatic Just Works
It comes down to this: Brand advertisers will turn to programmatic if they see that it’s working. Granted, it can still be challenging to determine the effectiveness of some branding campaigns, but as our metrics grow more sophisticated each year, the ROI of branding campaigns is becoming easier to pin down. And, thus far, brand advertisers have been blown away by the ROI’s they’re seeing with programmatic.
Programmatic ultimately works for branding campaigns for the very same reason it works for direct-response campaigns. It uses data to make sure ads are delivered to the right people rather than blindly sent into the world with the hope that they’re viewed. Efficiency is efficiency regardless of the campaign you’re running, and more brand advertisers now appreciate this. The tide began to turn in 2014. Expect 2015 to be the year programmatic brand campaigns really take off.
Ben Plomion is Vice President of Marketing at programmatic ad platform Chango