37pc of mobile ads in Britain bought via programmatic: report
By Mark Hamstra
June 26, 2014
Programmatic trading accounted for more than a third of mobile ad buys in Britain last year and is playing a bigger role for smartphones and tablets than for digital display ads overall, according to research scheduled to be released today from the Internet Advertising Bureau.
While programmatic trading accounted for 28 percent of all digital display ads, it accounted for 37 percent on mobile, the Media Owner Sales Techniques study found. The research is the first such report detailing how digital advertising in Britain is traded, the IAB UK said.
“I think mobile has learned quite a few things from what’s already been done with programmatic online,” said Alex Kozloff, head of mobile at the IAB UK, London. “Also, there is a whole different set of players in mobile.”
“Programmatic” refers to display ads that are bought and sold using automated systems and processes such as real-time bidding.
The IAB report, conducted by research and strategy consultancy MTM on behalf of IAB, projected that the share of ads bought through programmatic technologies would grow from 28 percent in 2013 to 47 percent in 2014, and could reach up to 60 percent to 75 percent of total digital display advertising by 2017.
Social driving programmatic
Ms. Kozloff said that social media is driving much of the programmatic trading on mobile. About half of display advertising on mobile in 2013 was delivered through social media, according to the IAB/PwC Digital Adspend report 2013, released earlier this year. That compares with about a third of the display ads delivered through non-mobile social media.
“I think social-media ads are much more likely to be traded programmatically,” Ms. Kozloff said. “Facebook and Twitter are quite strong in programmatic.”
Twitter's 2013 acquisition of MoPub allowed the platform to incorporate real-time bidding into its advertising repertoire. Twitter cited the increasing use of mobile devices and the growth of programmatic advertising in explaining the acquisition. (see story).
Of the 1.86 billion pounds (about $3.16 billion U.S.) spent on display ads across the Internet and mobile in 2013, about 500 million pounds ($850 million) was traded programmatically, the Media Owner Sales Techniques study found.
Among the mobile ads traded programmatically, 23 percent were direct programmatic buys, and the other 14 percent were purchased through programmatic exchanges, according to the report. Of the remaining mobile ads not purchased programmatically, 26 percent were purchased directly and 27 percent were purchased through networks.
The study noted that digital video ads are less likely to be traded programmatically than display ads. Only 16 percent of Internet video ads (excluding mobile video) are traded programmatically.
The report also concluded that programmatic is more dominant on mobile in part because mobile is a more fragmented ecosystem that has enabled a wide range of intermediaries. Overall, programmatic provides efficiencies in the face of abundant digital inventory and a fragmented audience, the report concluded.
Growth in programmatic advertising will be bolstered as marketers gain experience in using programmatic and as they develop a greater understanding of how it works and overcome some negative perceptions of the technology, the IAB UK report said.
“I fully expect programmatic to grow in mobile, not only as a percentage of mobile overall, but also as mobile itself grows,” Ms. Kozloff said.
Seth Socolow, senior vice president of business development at AirPush, Los Angeles, said Web site publishers that have seen declines in their online advertising are seeking to sell more mobile and tablet advertising. Over the past several years media buyers have looked to become more efficient with the purchase of advertising through programmatic buying, he said.
Such programmatic advertising drives the best results for advertisers when agencies and marketers are able to move beyond the short-term advertising goal, said Jarvis Mak, senior vice president of customer success at Rocket Fuel.
“If they can identify the underlying business goal, and link that goal directly to the programmatic efforts, marketing results will suddenly become much more relevant for the advertiser,” he said.
Redwood City, CA-based Rocket Fuel offers a platform for programmatic advertising.
Mr. Mak advised that marketers should adhere to their budget plans when running programmatic campaigns, rather than making changes day by day based on performance.
“This can be counterproductive in programmatic buying, especially in a fully algorithmic environment,” he said.
Mark Hamstra is content director at Mobile Marketer, New York. Reach him at