Mike Fletcher reports from the New Video Frontiers conference on the tipping point of programmatic.
According to a recent report by the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), programmatic has finally tipped over into mainstream advertising, and 80% of all digital spend will be programmatic by 2018.
The IAB’s report reveals that, of the £2.13bn spent last year on display ads across the internet and mobile, 45% (£960m) was traded programmatically – up from 28% in 2013.
The research also reveals that programmatic’s share of mobile ad sales almost doubled between 2013 and 2014 from 37% to 64%. While today, nearly 18% of all video advertising is traded programmatically.
Programmatic’s prevalence was one of the hotly debated topics at the New Video Frontiers conference, which took place last week at King’s Place in London.
Havas Media Group’s global head of programmatic solutions Hossein Houssaini was joined on stage by publishers Local World and Stailamedia and Irfon Watkins – the CEO of video advertising exchange Coull – to discuss what needs to change within the ecosystem for the IAB’s prediction on the next three years to come true.
Currently, the biggest growth potential in programmatic lies within video advertising. The panel all agreed however that it’s being hampered by issues of trust, especially around fraud and viewability, along with a lack of supply.
RTB auctions, trading cheap inventory often still results in video distributed in-game, on disreputable sites and below-the-fold. This can lead to high viewing figures, but no referrals and no way for the advertiser to understand what they’ve been buying.
Could video growth stall?
Video’s share of all digital advertising expected to reach 14.5% by 2016, with year-on-year growth of over 43% in the UK alone. The panellists concurred that, unless a standard for measurement is introduced and greater communication between publisher, agency and technology stakeholder occurs to overcome key challenges, there’s a real possibility that continued growth in programmatic video could stall.
“At Havas, we measure factors such as user experience, traffic quality, impact and opportunity to see, brand context. We then pull these together and generate a score that is benchmarked against the top 20% of publisher inventory,” Houssaini told the audience.
“We are having vital conversations to ensure that we analyse all the impacting factors such as the quality of third-party data, technology and data science but these conversations need to happen within the wider ecosystem as well.”
Jochen Witte, COO media and data exchange at Swiss-based Stailamedia, agrees. He said: “We all need to help the publisher provide more transparency within inventory by communicating available technology solutions.
“When it comes to measurement, it’s about finding a comparable standard, similar to that of television advertising. It may not be the most accurate but it offers one single truth that everyone can work with.”
Coull’s Watkins believes that a more transparent rating of inventory could bring about a range of price-points. It would then be up to the advertiser to decide where they wanted to allocate budget.
He said: “We need to help the buyer make more informed choices about what they’re purchasing and help the publisher to better understand what it is they’re selling. Technology can do this and create trust in the process.
“If we expose the inventory, then the buyer can choose whether or not to buy. The publisher will then hopefully decide to improve the user experience of its inventory, which in turn will help the whole eco-system to evolve.”
Havas’ Houssaini further stresses that the user’s experience of video advertising is as much about the content as it is about the format or placing.
“We need to start with the creative before moving onto the buy,” he said. “Programmatic is an ecosystem that starts with content, strategy, planning and moves onto buying, before optimisation of data, analysis and attribution take place. It’s an iterative, ongoing process, whereby lessons should be learned and communicated at every stage.
“If the right content does not address the right audience, is only built from a brand perspective and does not act dynamically to the consumer’s needs, optimised by data and insights, the response will be always low, no matter if it is standard display or video. So data and creativity needs to be explored during the same discussions around programmatic.”
More work for creative and CRM
Speaking afterwards, Houssaini said that he has no doubt that enhanced programmatic technology, like Havas Meta DSP, which works across multiple Demand Side Platforms, is ensuring that pre-roll will end up in the best environment and will reach the right audience. But creative and CRM both has more work to do before the right format can be matched with the right viewer.
He said: “Just as we need a collaborative environment and exchange with the publisher, the same also needs to happen with CRM and creative agencies.
“The sooner agencies stop trying to repurpose three-minute TV ads for a digital audience and start thinking in terms of 30-second Facebook videos, six-second Vines or adding interactive elements, the sooner the potential for enhanced creativity within a programmatic video landscape will be realised. In the same way, brands should see automated display as an opportunity for further creative license and to make amendments mid-campaign.”
A survey last year by AOL UK indicated that time being freed up by automation is starting to allow brands to focus more on creativity.
Some 65% of advertisers agreed or strongly agreed that they spend more time now talking about strategy and audiences as a result of programmatic, and when asked whether the ability to target and track consumers is leading to new forms of creativity, 47% agreed or strongly agreed.
So the future of programmatic is not simply about improved efficiencies, but about paving the way for a positive shift in creative thinking as well.
If this can be carried out, hand-in-hand with the introduction of measurement standardisation and greater transparency of publisher inventory, the programmatic trading of video advertising has a very bright future indeed.