In 2015, I predict that all marketers, even those who have fought so hard to ignore it, will finally realise that programmatic buying is not a fad; it’s not just the down ’n’ dirty performance driver many assumed it was and it most certainly isn’t creating a whole new pool of inventory for advertiser’s that wasn’t there before. What programmatic is going to mean to marketers everywhere can be summed up clearly and concisely in two words – better access.

Better access to data and clear pathways to executing upon it. Better access to a scaled variety of inventory and the reach that follows. Better access to ideas and practices that only the absolute largest of advertisers would have been able to contemplate a few years ago. Most importantly, and the culmination of all these factors, programmatic mechanisms provide better access to your target audience.

A second prediction for 2015 is the shift in education and understanding around what programmatic actually means and the pressure it will place on publishers to start creating new products, and revising existing opportunities for digital brand activity such as heavy rich media and video to be delivered within programmatic platforms. The ad technology itself is not really a problem; most of it has already been worked out and is in the market from a Direct Response perspective. It’s the supply side waking up to the future which is really going to change the game.

We saw Facebook acquire LiveRail in mid-2014 and then Yahoo bring in BrightRoll in November. The big players in the publisher arena know that it’s not acceptable to carve up your audience by a couple of demographic segments anymore. Everyone has come to expect the application of their own first party data to inform for their DR buys. They don’t see why they can’t do the same to get the most out of their branding dollars. The buying will most likely remain the same, but instead of sending over some creative assets and a tracker for the clicks and views, the Ops team will request a Deal ID to set up the next Month’s 4OD pre roll campaign (4OD started to open the programmatic pipes up at the start of the year).

My final programmatic prediction for 2015 is that all of us geeks who have been obsessing about programmatic for quite a while, will actually start to care more about the messaging and creative we are putting out there. As media practitioners, we are in a fight to give our brands the best opportunity to present themselves to their consumers. We are constantly looking for innovation to help us isolate the right person, at the right time, in the right place – but what’s the point if the ad itself doesn’t resonate and give that user a reason to believe.

I believe that media practitioners will become the advocates of flexible creative. It’s unlikely that many of us will have the skills to replace the copywriters or designers, but it is possible for us to enable them to do better work by pairing our analytical skills with the kind of automation and logic made possible through programmatic buying. Finally, if we can enable those designers and copywriters to deliver more relevant and better engaging ads, we can create greater value in the whole programmatic inventory chain. Better performance will drive higher CPMs, which encourages publishers to adopt and in turn will create more opportunities for programmatic brand activity.

Closing the loop on all three predictions, this year is going to be about rapid development of sales pitches and product packaging to realign with the changing appetite towards programmatically executed full funnel campaigns. Big publishers made their moves in 2014 to prepare for the brand money which is going to come with the condition of ‘but I want to apply my first party data.’ With the rest of the supply side watching on, a refocus on delivering well matched creative is going to increase the baseline of performance and value across the whole space.

Joanna Parnell

Joanna Parnell


Director of Planning at Unique Digital.