Sixty-five per cent of all money spent on advertising in digital media in 2019 will be traded programmatically, according to Zenith’s Programmatic Marketing Forecasts, published today.
Advertisers will spend US$84bn programmatically next year, up from US$70bn this year, which represents 62 per cent of digital media expenditure.
We predict that in 2020 advertisers will spend US$98bn on programmatic advertising, representing 68 per cent of their expenditure on digital media advertising.
By digital media we mean all forms of paid-for advertising within online content, including online video and social media, but excluding paid search and classified advertising.
In Australia, programmatic spend has grown from just US$61m (AU$83.7m) in 2012, to US$1.27bn (AU$1.74bn) this year.
By 2020, Zenith predicts it will rise to US$2.13bn (AU$2.92bn), representing 67 per cent growth between 2018 and 2020.
Programmatic now comprises 46.8 per cent of digital display advertising, which is predicted to jump to 67.2 per cent by 2020. Programmatic spend will represent 27 per cent of all digital ad spend by 2020, from only 18 per cent in 2018.
The breadth of ad formats available through programmatic trading is improving, with more mobile, video and audio formats coming online all the time, though brands and agencies need to do more to push publishers to improve the quality of their inventory, which needs at minimum to be safe and viewable.
Zenith Australia CEO Nickie Scriven said: “In Australia, we anticipate that a number of new channels will be transacted programmatically, such as audio (music & podcast), radio and addressable TV, which is why we are seeing continued programmatic growth.
“The biggest change we will see in 2019 will be in the video space. The TV networks have been actively promoting addressable TV and Catch Up TV (CTV) and, coupled with the launch of VOZ next year, we predict that a number of large TV advertisers will transact more of their online video programmatically.
“As TV and CTV become more connected, and first and second party data becomes more important and more widely used, the effectiveness of targeting will offset any technology and data costs.
“Programmatic will become the most efficient and effective way to buy media in the future.”
Globally, the growth in programmatic advertising is slowing as it cements its position as the most important method of digital trading.
Zenith estimates that global programmatic ad spend will grow 24 per cent in 2018, down from 32 per cent growth in 2017, and forecast 19 per cent growth in 2019, followed by 17 per cent growth in 2020.
Zenith Australia estimates that local programmatic ad spend will grow 59 per cent in 2018, up from 54 per cent growth in 2017, and forecasts 29 per cent growth in 2019, and 30 per cent in 2020.
In dollar terms, the biggest programmatic market is the US, where we expect US$40.6bn to be spent programmatically in 2018 – 58 per cent of the total.
China is in a distant second place, spending US$7.9bn on programmatic advertising this year, followed by the UK, with US$5.6bn of programmatic ad spend.
Australia sits at sixth position.
The US is also the market that has most embraced programmatic advertising, trading 83 per cent of all digital media programmatically this year.
Canada is in second place, trading 82 per cent of digital media programmatically, followed by the UK, with 76 per cent, and Denmark, with 75 per cent.
By 2020, programmatic advertising will account for more than 80 per cent of digital media in all four markets.
Canada will have almost completed the transition to pure programmatic trading, spending 99 per cent of digital media programmatically that year.
Zenith expects all markets to follow Canada and use programmatic trading for all digital media transactions eventually.
Indeed, it’s only a matter of time before programmatic trading becomes the default method of trading for all media.
However, the transition is taking slightly longer than we expected – last year we forecast that 64 per cent of digital media would be programmatic in 2018, and 67 per cent would be programmatic in 2019, so we have pulled back both forecasts by two percentage points.
The introduction of privacy legislation such as the EU’s GDPR has had some chilling effect by making certain data previously used in programmatic transactions unavailable and making other data more costly to process.
But we think the main reason for the slowdown in spending on programmatic media is that advertisers are investing more in infrastructure and data to make their programmatic activity more effective.
To make the most of their programmatic campaigns, advertisers have to reorganise internally to give programmatic trading the high-level support and understanding it needs.
Agencies can only extract maximum effectiveness from their programmatic strategy in a proper partnership with their clients.
And a programmatic strategy can only ever be as effective as the data used to execute it.
Zenith global head of digital and innovation Benoit Cacheux said: “Programmatic trading improves efficiency and effectiveness, and is gaining a dominant share of digital media transactions.
“The scale of operational restructuring to make the most of it is both extensive and expensive, though, and advertisers are spending more carefully while they invest in infrastructure and data and review the quality of media.
“All programmatic advertisers need a strategy for acquiring the best and most comprehensive data available, and to treat this data as a vital corporate asset.”
The most valuable data is first-party data, either explicitly provided by consumers or gained by tracking their activity on owned websites.
It is also becoming more common to use second-party data, by forming data sharing partnerships, between – for example – brands and online retailers.
Third-party data is widely available but does not give advertisers a competitive advantage, since all advertising can use it to target the same segments.
Advertisers should continually vet and interrogate third-party data to ensure they are truly adding incremental reach.
By combining all its data with their own CRM systems, advertisers can model consumer behaviour, and the more advanced are using machine learning to predict it.
Data and new technology is enabling brands to move from tracking cookies to communicating with individuals.
Zenith head of forecasting and director of global intelligence Jonathan Barnard said: “Technology is making programmatic advertising work harder for brands.
“Artificial intelligence promises to unlock new understanding of customers as people, as well as improving the optimisation of the trading process.”