As online advertising continues to proliferate, publishers are becoming more programmatic in their media-selling tactics.
“We’re seeing the bifurcation of sales teams where publishers are recognizing programmatic as a mechanism to more efficiently and economically take budget and marry that with native advertising executions,” Stevens explained.
Publishers like the Guardian, for instance, have dedicated 25% of sales staff to programmatic buying. Stevens pointed out that for many publishers, real-time bidding (RTB) is seen as a means to become more efficient within the sales process and monetize audience data.
There’s also a growing trend globally to bring more data and inventory management in-house on the buy side.
“More advertisers, in addition to ad agencies, are establishing in-house DSP (demand-side platform) or DMP (data-management platform),” Yan said. “P&G, Unilever and GM, as far as I know, are considering this in-house ‘tech stack’ now. On the sales side, there’s almost no Google [presence in China]. We have no Yahoo, no AOL, no Facebook. The major US Internet companies don’t have a presence there.” The gap leaves more room for marketer experimentation.
In Europe, brands are beginning to set up their own trading desks, as well as “tremendous growth of publishers leveraging their own first-party data,” Stevens said. “With the rise of RTB and private marketplaces, [this] allows the publisher to safely unlock their assets.”
Mobile, both from the publisher and marketer perspective, is exploding alongside programmatic adoption. Citing a statistic from China’s most recent “Singles Day,” an Eastern hemisphere take on Black Friday when the unattached go on ecommerce binges as a cure for lonely hearts, mobile commerce accounted for about one-quarter of total sales that day, which were approximately $8.3 billion.
“This trend is happening all over the world,” Stevens said. “In terms of where publishers and app developers see inventory being consumed, it’s staggering the percentages that mobile is taking from overall inventory. In some instances, handheld devices and tablets command between 50-60% of inventory."
The challenge, he said, is monetizing that traffic, especially in countries such as Turkey and Indonesia where there are “enormous” numbers of digital natives who grew up online. Similarly in China, Yan said social networks like WeChat, which has amassed some 600 million users, have driven earned media as a viable consumer communications medium. This, he said, is having noticeable impact on how marketers monetize audiences.
“It’s not just throwing ads at people,” Yan said. “Mobile is about social and local [messaging] so it’s important to have very good native advertising practices in China.”
Russia has its own unique set of challenges, according to Yandex’s Lomize. The population, he said, “hates advertising," which hampers monetization efforts. Additionally, “the ability to control a conversion is limited. … In Russia, people maybe do research with mobile and rarely buy with mobile.” That being said, he was bullish on video advertising, which, Lomize predicted, “is going to be very big.”