More than three-quarters (78%) of US digital display spending will be transacted programmatically this year, estimates eMarketer, with that figure rising to 81.5% next year and 83.6% in 2019. The forecast doesn’t differ substantially from one released last year, although it does revise programmatic spending slightly upward.
This latest forecast expects that programmatic digital display ad spending will total $32.6 billion this year, up from last year’s forecast of $31.9 billion. Programmatic digital display growth rates are also a little higher in this forecast, at 27.8% next year (versus 26.3% in last year’s forecast) and 20.1% next year (versus 18.9%).
Likewise, there hasn’t been much change in the programmatic video forecast: by 2019, eMarketer expects that 77% of US digital video ad spending will be transacted programmatically. Last year, eMarketer expected programmatic to account for 74% of digital video ad spend by 2018.
Are Brands Cooling on Programmatic?
It’s interesting to see eMarketer’s more buoyant take on programmatic spending in light of separate data from MediaRadar. The ad-tracking firm released a report demonstrating that the number of brands running programmatic ads from January through July actually fell by 2% compared to the year-earlier period.
By contrast, more brands appear to be engaging in direct buys. For example, MediaRadar revealed that 62 P&G brands ran premium video and native ads from May through July, up from 49 in the first quarter prior to the YouTube scandal. Likewise, Unilever more than doubled the number of its brands engaging in direct ad buys during the same period.
Media Radar attributes this trend to direct sales typically being seen as more brand-safe. A review of recent research supports this viewpoint:
- Virtually all programmatic decision-makers are concerned about fake news in programmatic advertising, according to a BrightRoll report, leading some to reconsider open exchanges;
- During H2 2016, for digital display, brand risk was more than twice as high for programmatic than publisher direct buys, per Integral Ad Science; and
- The vast majority (81%) of programmatic digital ad buyers agree that ensuring a “brand safe” environment for advertising is a high priority, with 71% finding it difficult to ensure brand safety on open exchanges, per a Trusted Media Brands survey.
It will be interesting to see if MediaRadar’s data ends up being a momentary blip, or if it portends a larger shift…