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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:

It will be interesting to see if MediaRadar’s data ends up being a momentary blip, or if it portends a larger shift…

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