This year we invited some of those same contributors to evaluate their earlier forecasts and update them for 2014. The below is from Mark Grether, chief operating officer of WPP Group's Xaxis digital media trading unit.
2013 has been a busy year for the programmatic industry, particularly in the quality and scope of premium inventory that has become addressable via programmatic technology.
In my prediction last December I stated, “With FBX demonstrating the value of bringing RTB technologies into a previously closed digital ecosystem, we expect to see other major players begin to open up some of their inventory to RTB.” This has definitely been the case with increasing amounts of premium inventory programmatically available to advertisers from publishers and media companies such as AOL, Conde Nast, Hearst, Slacker Radio and, most recently, Twitter through its “Tailored Audiences” product.
In particular, we had identified Twitter and Apple as likely candidates for opening up to programmatic – with Twitter we were spot on as the company has been aggressively exploring new ad formats including programmatic; less so, with Apple.
For 2014 I see the trend towards more premium inventory becoming addressable via programmatic continuing, particularly in the realm of digital video. (It’s also important to remember that “programmatic” doesn’t necessarily mean inventory being purchased via RTB. Instead, it’s the delivery of the ads that’s done programmatically based on audience data – the inventory itself may be purchased via other buying models.)
The growth in top-tier video and other premium inventory ties into my bigger picture prediction that 2014 will see programmatic really break out as a vehicle for top-of-funnel brand building activity. The scale in terms of addressable premium inventory is now there – whether in digital video, digital radio, digital-out-of-home or premium display – along with the technology to connect ads and audiences across multiple channels. This means that marketers will be able to play more of a storyteller roll with sequential, relevant ads on different platforms that connect to form a greater whole.
The creative possibilities inherent in this kind of fully linked environment are immense and I think smart marketers will be able to create campaigns that are less about one-off messaging and more about delivering an engaging brand story over a period of time.