2015 marks the year of the sheep in the Chinese zodiac, but it’s certainly no time for advertisers to be sheepish on programmatic. With the Association of National Advertisers naming programmatic as the marketing word of the year for 2014, the ad technology certainly had its coming out party. Now that programmatic has put everyone on notice, it’s now set to become the omnipotent marketing mechanism that some always imagined it would be.

 

Programmatic gets media (rich)

Publishers are finally warming up to programmatic, which means more programmatic inventory (and more premium inventory) for advertisers. Look for this trend to continue and spill over into other ad formats such as video and native.

Programmatic is an effective targeting tool because of its ability to trigger just the right message at the right moment to the right user. However, another key ingredient to creating receptive communication is delivering that message on the right medium, and this is an area where programmatic will grow by leaps and bounds.

With Yahoo’s purchase of BrightRoll and Flurry and the convergence of native with programmatic, the media-rich future of programmatic looks very bright. Once programmatic has adopted more rich media inventory, this is when the technology will really take off, increasing engagement, conversion and other KPIs.

 

Programmatic becomes ubiquitous

In line with seeing more rich media formats, we’ll see programmatic popping up on a wider variety of platforms and gaining larger shares of a greater number of geographic locations.

Particularly, look for mobile to lead programmatic growth in 2015. Look for a steady rise all the way through to 2018, when $6.8 billion of programmatic spending will occur on mobile. This, along with cross-platform campaigns and targeting, will strengthen the programmatic proposition.

While overall programmatic spending will continue to rise, being driven in large part by the biggest markets, a number of emerging markets will also gain traction. For instance, the developing Asia region showed the fastest programmatic growth in 2014, with a total spend of over $500 million. Look for that trend to continue with strong traction coming from Malaysia and Singapore. The Latin American region will also be worth keeping tabs on. The region grew by 67 per cent in 2014, with Brazil being the main driver. Look for countries such as Colombia to get up to speed in 2015.

 

The programmatic knowledge gap narrows 

There’s been a lot of talk surrounding programmatic knowledge, and for good reason, very few “non-insiders” truly understood the technology at the start of the year. While a lot of progress was made this year, there is still a lot of work to be done before programmatic competency reaches the level that is needed. 2015 will be the year we see this knowledge gap close because of the importance and prominence of programmatic, and because of the concerted effort being taken to educate the market, with new programs like the Yieldr Academy.

Also supporting the acquisition of knowledge is the in-house movement. As brands take programmatic in-house, they gain hands-on experience and learn the best way, experientially.

 

More brands go in-house

There’s been a lot of talk this year about going in-house, with brands such as StubHub, Procter & Gamble and Netflix all taking the plunge. As these companies free themselves from the restraints of opaque trading desks and agencies, they place themselves in the highest percentile of programmatic knowledge. Among campaign and pricing transparency, the other benefits include decision control and a better means of activating data, while protecting this critical asset the same time.

As in-house programmatic organizations outpace the competition, other brands will start to see these benefits and gain a greater sense of urgency, and they’ll be encouraged to do the same in some way, shape or form. Current hiring trends suggest companies are gearing up to take a more technological approach to marketing. CIOs are taking on greater responsibility, while more employers are looking for candidates with big data skills.

The evolution of programmatic is happening right before our eyes. As a marketer, you can either hop along for the ride or be left behind herding sheep. Programmatic is not only here to stay – it’s just getting started.

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