Over the past year, the buying and selling of video advertising has seen three key trends emerge: the increased automation of media; the convergence of TV and video; and an ever-growing focus on data.

In that context, what does the media trading landscape look like at the beginning of 2015, following a year that saw the acquisition trail continue apace, as companies looked to build the full marketing technology stack for publishers and advertisers?  Unsurprisingly, data is still the lynchpin on which everything hinges.  Essential for sellers to demonstrate and deliver inventory and audience value, data provides buyers with insight for planning and decision-making to increase the effectiveness of media by pinpointing the right audience at the right time.  Data is key to realising efficiencies in a world where wastage will become increasingly questionable.

But data on its own is limited. The marriage of programmatic and data is key to unlock and execute its full potential.  In other words, in addition to creative thinking, the future of advertising is based on technology and data.

With that in mind, these are the five considerations for programmatic technology in 2015:

1. Brand Safety

Although a good amount of progress around brand safety has been made over the past year, the sector is still seeing too many bad news stories making headlines.  Therefore, to promote wider scale investment, the industry recognises that, collectively, more must be done in terms of understanding the space and providing increased policy and guidance.

Black list or white list policies are a good start, but not enough.  In general the three core points to be considered are whether: a real person saw the ad (fraud prevention); the person had a chance to see the ad (viewability); and the ad ran in the place it was supposed to (verification). And there is no silver bullet to ensure all of these, rather it takes a mix of many tools and processes.

2. Closer relationships between buyers and publishers

There will be less and less reliance on open exchanges, with both buy and sell side trading more media in closed ecosystems or direct partnerships.  This is seeing an emergence of buyers running and managing their own exchanges or publisher networks, while publishers look to take more ownership of their inventory.

Publishers are increasingly making inventory bundled with data available through programmatic channels.  We are also likely to see further use of DEAL ID.  In effect this technology creates an automated link, or shorthand, that reflects the details of an offline trading agreement between the buyer and seller.

We will also see the growth in ‘upfront’ trading, in which advertisers make annual adspend commitments to publishers in advance.  Buyers can also forward their target audience data segments to the seller, who responds with a proposal based on available inventory.

3. Programmatic TV and addressable advertising

The broad definition of programmatic TV includes enabling addressable advertising in linear television, taking it beyond ad placement determined solely by programme ratings.  This can be thought of as dividing into two camps: household addressable and audience addressable.

Household addressable delivers different ads to individual households watching the same programme.  Controlled by the set top box provider, the data is activated by the service provider.

Audience addressable relies on first and third party data to segment the core audience so that ad placement is optimised against a TV schedule by matching viewing habits and subscription data with user profiles or other attributes.

Currently it is early days, but further developments, and mainstream adoption, will be driven by the integration of set top box data, third party customer data and TV planning data.

Increasing amounts of data will be transferable between channels, including TV, driving the rise in online video advertising.  Audience management is the connective tissue and will fuel a platform’s ability to seamlessly execute programmatic buying and optimisation across screens.

4. Attribution / Data Management Platform (DMP)

Attribution has been on the agenda for agencies and clients for some time. The issue is how to activate data in a meaningful way so that the right message can be delivered to the right person, depending on where they are in the purchase funnel.

The technology is available in the form of analytics tools that bring attribution and audience data together, in real-time, and can therefore provide the intelligence to efficiently optimise through both direct and programmatic channels.

However, it also requires having the necessary people, teams and resource in place to engage in these projects and ensure that everything works in tandem.

Key to activity next year and beyond is how attribution and buying platforms begin to work together.  Achieving this across all channels will be a long road, but it is very possible that video, display and search can start to be the first to receive data and attribution intelligence.

5. Megastacks

The consolidation seen in 2014 as a result of various major acquisitions has resulted in the rise of the ‘megastack’, and this is a trend that is likely to continue.  Essentially the term refers to the elements of technology, inventory or trading software coming together to create something bigger than its component parts.

But although megastacks bring much-needed simplification to the Luma Landscape, they have not necessarily delivered efficiency for the advertiser.  Often it is necessary for buyers to use two or even three Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) in order to achieve the necessary value and reach for their campaigns.

The result is the need for a programmatic brand advertising platform that gives a holistic view of all trading so that assets can be leveraged and customised deals created – in other words an open ecosystems for brands, agencies and publishers.

Technology continues to shape the media trading industry.  We saw huge shifts during 2014 and this pace of change shows no sign of abating as the potential of programmatic continues to be realised by buyers and sellers alike.

Lewis Sherlock

Lewis Sherlock


Senior Director, Strategic Accounts, EMEA; Adap.tv (a division of AOL Platforms)