What’s In Store For The Ad Tech Industry in 2015

This post first appeared in MediaPost: http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/241031/whats-in-store-for-the-ad-tech-industry-in-2015.html

We all get inundated by the day-to-day minutiae of running our businesses in the ad tech industry, so it’s often surprising when a new year rolls around and we look up to see what we helped make happen. Here are a few of the bigger shifts we have seen over the last 12 months, and what might be in store for 2015.

The “Year of Mobile” Finally Arrived
After seven or eight years of next year being the “year of mobile,” last year actually was the year of mobile. Facebook mobile ad revenues passed desktop ad revenues. More people connected to the Internet via mobile devices worldwide than on desktops, according to comScore. Most new startups are “mobile first.” What’s interesting is that despite the growth, the industry is still grappling with the implications of this shift. Loss of cookies as an identifier, the difficulty of telling stories on small-format screens, and the fragmentation of apps all present challenges for 2015 and beyond.

Native Advertising Becomes a Preferred Ad Format
One way that publishers have begun capturing meaningful revenue on mobile devices is through native advertising. Once a Facebook-only format, dozens of top publishers have redesigned their sites to endless scroll formats that incorporate native ads, because they are much more valuable to brand marketers than banners. In 2015, we should see native advertising continue to grow and begin to mature into a more predictable and scalable ad format, as the providers incorporate tools to provide forecasting and guarantees.

Publishers Dig Deeper Into First-Party Data
Also in 2014, Data Management Platforms or DMPs finally went mainstream on the publisher side. While most advertisers and marketers have been capturing data for years, publishers are just beginning to capitalize on the trove of data they possess. In a world where context is increasingly commoditized, publisher first-party data has become a key differentiator to command higher value for publishers and marketers.  In 2015, we should see more marketers using both publisher and marketer data together to improve outcomes.

Transparency Helps To Combat Ad Fraud
Ad fraud finally became obvious as an industry-wide problem in 2014. Particularly in open-market RTB exchanges, statistics as high as 60% fraudulent impressions have been cited. Viewability metrics have been pushed hard by the IAB and the MMC to help combat certain kinds of fraud, but ultimately even they admitted the technology isn’t there yet. If we can continue to shine a bright light on this problem by increasing transparency, this is an area where we should see substantial improvement in 2015.

Video Explodes With Demand Exceeding Supply
Video as an ad format, whether on mobile or desktop, has finally begun tempting TV brand buyers onto the internet. Video grew dramatically in 2014 and should continue to explode in 2015. Video is often the only format where demand exceeds supply for many publishers, and thus the majority of the sales have been up-front guarantees and not RTB. Improvements in programmatic capabilities, especially automated guaranteed buying, should contribute greatly to this growth.

Automated Guaranteed Goes Mainstream
Speaking of automated guaranteed, 2014 seems to be have been the year of testing, and 2015 is shaping up to be the year where automated guaranteed buying comes into its own. We are starting to see publishers requiring buyers to use automated guaranteed channels for certain kinds of buys in order to reduce costs. More importantly, we are seeing big brand buyers mandate that publishers accept automated guaranteed buys through standard APIs in order to consolidate reporting. 2015 should see dramatic growth as publishers and buyers realize the efficiencies from automating routine tasks.

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