Mobile Driving Programmatics Rapid Growth

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Social media ads are driving growth in the amount of inventory traded in Private Marketplaces

The UK will remain a market leader in programmatic digital display ad spending this year, with advertisers forecast to spend £2.67bn on programmatic trading, up 44 per cent from last year, according to the latest figures from eMarketer. In fact, programmatically-traded ads will account for 70 per cent of all UK digital display ad spending by the end of 2016, rising to more than 75 per cent by the end of 2017. Almost three quarters of programmatic ad spend in the UK in 2016 will go to mobile.

Trading via Real-time Bidding (RTB) has traditionally dominated the programmatic space in the UK, but programmatic direct, a pre-negotiated approach that does not involve an auction, is on course to overtake it. This year, RTB and programmatic direct spending will reach parity, at £1.33bn each. By 2018, programmatic direct will have overtaken RTB to account for £2.03bn in programmatic ad spend, representing 52 per cent of the programmatic total.

“Much of the programmatic direct total is accounted for by social media ad impressions, which are predominantly traded this way,” explained eMarketer UK analyst Bill Fisher. “However, outside of social, people are coming round to the greater degree of certainty offered by this way of trading. Even within the RTB total, private marketplaces—small, invitation-only auctions—are becoming increasingly prevalent as people seek more control over the programmatic trading function.”

Mobile, which has grown up in the programmatic era, will continue to dominate, and eMarketer estimates that almost three-quarters (£1.99bn) of total programmatic display ad spend will go toward mobile inventory this year. That proportion will reach a staggering 82.1 per cent by 2018, when mobile will account for £3.2bn in spending.

“The story here isn’t surprising” said Fisher. “Eyeballs have moved to mobile and ad spend has followed. All the while, programmatic has been around in the background, so it’s little wonder we’re seeing mobile programmatic taking off in such a big way.”

Programmatic video will remain slightly behind the curve—just 51 per cent of digital video inventory will be traded programmatically this year, compared to 70 per cent for the overall display market. This is largely due to the lack of premium inventory currently available. But programmatic video spending will grow even more quickly than programmatic mobile over the next few years.