Marc Swann is Search Director at Glass Digital, an SEO and digital marketing agency based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He's worked in the industry for 12 years and has first-hand experience of how programmatic advertising has developed since its inception. Here, he shares his insight into how this area of digital marketing is likely to continue changing in the coming months and years.

It's thought that $84 billion (~£70 billion) will be spent on programmatic advertising worldwide in 2019, with this set to rise to $98 billion in 2020 (Zenith).

This area of digital marketing is developing all of the time, so it's important that business owners and agencies keep an eye on the latest news and projections. This way, you can ensure you're prepared to make the most of whatever direction programmatic advertising takes.

To help with this, I'm going to explain exactly what this type of advertising is and how I see it changing in the near future.


What is programmatic advertising?

Programmatic advertising is the automation of buying and selling digital ad space. Using demand-side platforms, online advertisers can outline what kinds of audiences they're looking to target and how much they're willing to pay for them. Publishers can then use supply-side platforms to sell their ad space to these companies.

Whenever someone clicks on a webpage that has programmatic advertising space, an ad impression auction will run among advertisers who are interested in catching the attention of that specific customer. The company that's willing to spend the most will win the space, which means their ad will be shown. Because all of this is completely automated, it can happen in the milliseconds that it takes for a webpage to load.

Here's how I predict this area of digital marketing to develop over time.


Predictions for the future of programmatic advertising

  • Programmatic advertising will continue to adapt to GDPR

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came in to force on 25 May 2018 but, more than a year later, programmatic advertising facilitators are still adapting. The rules state that an individual's data can only be used if they explicitly give their consent, which obviously affects programmatic advertisers who rely on observing, collecting, and taking advantage of internet users' data in order to target their ideal customers.

This means marketers need to continue to look for new and creative ways to get consumers' consent at every given opportunity, whether that's when they visit your site or sign up to your newsletter. And, brands must strive to make the whole process as transparent as possible, too. So, I think we can expect to see brands being even more explicit about how they use their website visitors' data to inform their advertising.


  • Programmatic advertising will become increasingly personalised

While advertisers already have some control over who is shown their ads, as programmatic advertising develops, it's becoming even more customisable. New data is constantly becoming available and, because programmatic advertising gives you plenty of feedback so you can change your approach as you go, it's getting even easier for brands to target quality prospects.

This is a huge benefit of programmatic advertising ⁠— especially when you consider that research carried out by Harris Interactive on behalf of Sizmek found that 49% of people say they would engage with an ad that's based on their brand or product preferences. And, this rises to 73% for millennials (MarketingTech). This just goes to show that it's well worth taking advantage of the increasing personalisation options that come with programmatic advertising.


  • Voice activated programmatic advertising will become more common

Globally, there will be almost 208 million smart speakers in use by the end of 2019, according to a report from Canalys. It's only natural that technology providers, such as Google and Amazon, are looking for ways to monetise the devices — and one of the simplest ways they can do this is by offering ad space. This means companies that are ahead of the curve are starting to create audio programmatic ads, and I'm confident this is something we'll start to see more and more of as time goes on.

These are just three of the main ways in which I believe programmatic advertising will change in the coming months and years. Keep these in mind when you're planning your future programmatic campaigns, and you should be set for success.


Written by Marc Swann, Search Director at Glass Digital

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