As 2014 draws to a close, it wouldn’t feel right to contribute to a conversation about mobile without acknowledging what has without question been the topic of the year: mobile programmatic.
Indeed, earlier this year when writing for Marketing Week, I tackled the subject head on by looking at the language – and myriad of associated acronyms – behind the hype.
However, as the year has progressed and the buzz has continued, it is clear that mobile programmatic is now much more than just hype. It has become a vital cog within media plans, and is essential for an industry looking to understand how best to engage consumers at scale and in real-time.
You only need to look at the numbers to see how important the automated buying and selling of mobile media has become.
IAB UK figures from this year have forecast that display advertising bought using programmatic technologies will reach 50% in 2014. Combined with increasing spend on mobile, now accounting for £1 in every £5 spent on digital in the UK, mobile programmatic has captured the attention of brand marketers, keen to understand the opportunities it presents. We believe the divergence in brands’ level of spending will shrink as planners and buyers become more comfortable with this new paradigm.
While the benefits of reaching audiences on mobiles at scale through programmatic are clear, marketers are asking how they can guarantee premium inventory akin to a traditional media buy, but in real time. The next stage of development will see a combination of programmatic buying with the preferential treatment secured in a direct-buy environment – a model for programmatic access known as private marketplaces (PMPs).
PMPs offer a real-time option where marketers always know what they are going to get, and can work with the same publishers as they would with direct buys.
Effectively an invitation-only marketplace, sellers make their inventory and audiences available to select buyers. Programmatic buying is then used to control purchases, thereby removing the often time-consuming processes of direct-buy environments.
The sellers do this by providing advertisers with access to inventory before it is made available in an open exchange environment, which enables a seamless transaction that eliminates the need for direct buys with multiple publishers.
There are also different types of packaging opportunities for advertisers to consider when it comes to PMPs, including:
- Content/channel targeting: aligning brands with high-quality content that reflects audiences’ interests or demographics.
- Premium mobile audiences: engaging audiences on sites that skew toward the interests of brands’ target markets.
- Exclusive publisher access: target super-premium inventory from publishers whose inventory is only available via private auction.
- Hand-curated site lists: target inventory using a custom site list based on prior site performance, brand safety, or other criteria.
As with the wider online world before it, PMPs in mobile programmatic are seen as a big step towards achieving scale for brand safe inventory in the automated channel.
Benefits of PMPs
For both the supply and demand sides of the industry, there are benefits from PMPs for programmatic buying in a controlled environment.
For advertisers, the ability to get access to inventory before it is available in open auction means they are likely to win more bids as there is less competition. They are able to make more informed decisions to execute highly-targeted ad buys, ensuring alignment with their brand. Although inventory comes at a premium, there is also greater predictability in costs, and advertisers often gain increased transparency and access to inventory that may not otherwise be available in an exchange environment.
Combined with the benefits of a real-time buying platform, advertisers can pre-define the audiences that they buy in PMPs. There is also the option to plug straight into a PMP, aligning a brand with high-quality content in pre-defined packages. Alternatively, advertisers that use a dedicated resource to understand both the technology and the market can target inventory based on specific publishers or through custom site lists.
For sellers, the automation and optimisation of selling media space allows them to offer impressions to the highest bidder, and access thousands of new advertisers. This often generates an additional revenue stream for publishers as some advertisers have earmarked a portion of their budget to programmatic, which is not available for direct-buy media plans. With minimum price floors, category exclusions and dynamic allocation, publishers are also able to manage the programmatic process so they can make their inventory transparent – thereby driving up yield and space filled – while not cannibalising their full-service sales team.
Working together for transparency and best practice
Beyond the acronyms and tech jargon, programmatic represents a huge opportunity for brands to pay variable costs for each consumer they want to reach, with the flexibility to quickly view performance and move budget to maximise interactions and conversions.
Programmatic also represents a unique opportunity for compelling new creative. Whereas previously media plans would have to be evaluated once the campaigns closed, programmatic enables brands and marketers to evaluate creative in real time. This means that creative can be optimised to deliver the best campaign results.
By working together, as technology and the industry evolve, we will reach a stage where programmatic will serve as a critical component of mobile as it becomes central
to all digital advertising. At Millennial Media, we’re delighted to contribute to this through our support of the Digital Trading Standards Group’s (DTSG) UK Good Practice Principles – of which Millennial Media was one of the first signatories and has subsequently been awarded the DTSG Kitemark.
In 2015, we will see the power of mobile programmatic drive brand objectives using intelligent real-time branding, while the rapid development of the market will continue apace as it further captivates our industry and changes how we engage consumers.