Programmatic at dmexco – how has it evolved? Thoughts from IAB Europe panel and members

At dmexco last week IAB Europe published its third annual European Programmatic market sizing report which showed that the total programmatic display advertising market in Europe jumped 70.3% from €3.4bn in 2014 to €5.7bn in 2015.

So in a period of exponential growth we explored programmatic further with a panel of experts and have subsequently asked our members for their thoughts on the evolution of the programmatic discussion at dmexco. Below is a summary of the dmexco panel followed by thoughts from our members.

IAB Europe dmexco panel:  Programmatic advertising in Europe: Spend, strategies and models for the future

Alison Fennah, Executive Business Advisor, IAB Europe moderated a panel and was joined by:

  • Daniel Knapp, Senior Director, Advertising Research, IHS
  • Gerhard Louw, Senior Manager, International Media Management & Digital Transformation, Deutsche Telekom Group
  • Alex Stil, Chief Commercial Officer, GroupM Connect
  • David Goddard, Global Head of Programmatic Trading, Advertising Sales, BBC Worldwide
  • Henk van Niekerk, Head of Publisher Services, AOL International

The panel opened by agreed that the programmatic world is exciting and that marketers and publishers are closing the knowledge gap and realising its potential. For example, David noted that the BBC has driven growth by making their premium inventory available for multiple buyers to access. Programmatic was also discussed as part of the solution to ensure digital advertising investment continues to grow.

For agencies PMP deals are becoming prominent as they shift away from RTB into direct relationships with publishers executed via automation. Alex noted that this is driven by an effort to ensure quality advertising environments for advertisers.

As programmatic matures Gerhard notes that advertisers now understand there is a lot of value in programmatic and whilst still working closely with their agencies, programmatic provides opportunity for control of using first party data. The key challenge for advertisers is to bring it all together and the next phase will be in deciding which operating model is appropriate.

However challenges were also discussed including acquiring the right skills, array of vendor solutions, technology investment. The panel agreed that whilst industry education initiatives are important to increase understanding that stakeholder self-education is also important, e.g. through online courses, attending conferences etc.

Ben Geach, Director of Technology Services, EMEA at Turn
We’re in the midst of tremendous growth within the programmatic market across Europe, however, highlighted by the plethora of vendors and overwhelmed marketers I met at dmexco, it’s clear that this growth comes with confusion for many.

The original goal of programmatic was to buy and sell ads more efficiently, not specifically to learn more about customers. Now, marketers find it’s imperative to not only get their ads in front of the right users, but to unlock the power of audience based insights and data. This is the only way that brands can have real two-way conversations with consumers. Turn calls this the ‘what works machine’, which at the core is a data management platform/analytics insight tool with a demand side platform to activate across the customer decision journey. 

Amit Kotecha, Marketing Director EMEA at Quantcast
This year at dmexco, there was a positive buzz around digital brand advertising. The conversation has evolved from being just about delivery and targeting, to being much more about measurement and success metrics. As an industry we need to be ensuring that we rethink what a successful campaign looks like. If we keep focusing on metrics that drive last-touch/click results only, we may see success in the short term but miss the impact that digital is having on the long-term.

Ben Pheloung, Head of Demand at PulsePoint
The Header Bidding wave that has swept through the US and UK this year looks set to continue, as we are now starting to see it carry into Germany and the other more programmatically developed European markets. This year’s dmexco felt really upbeat and positive, despite some of the challenges that our industry faces, such as ad blocking, new EU privacy legislation and, lest we forget, Brexit. It was exciting to hear what our industry is buzzing about – from new tech innovations like header bidding to how to make better advertising.

Nigel Gilbert, VP Strategic Development EMEA at AppNexus
The rise of programmatic has been meteoric. Its ubiquitous place at dmexco this year illustrates that its application has gone beyond the tipping point. This means it’s time to start thinking not about how we apply programmatic, but to how we build on its momentum, and to begin transitioning to the programmable age. 

As the market matures, it is incumbent upon our industry to remain agile in adapting this technology to new segments like AR, VR, mobile and digital video, as well as tackling the ad blocking crisis through creative, relevant ads that users want to see. Brands and marketers now need to counter the challenges facing the ad industry by combining unique data points, with customisable technology to help advertisers deliver real, measurable results. This means ushering in a new era of highly personalised, programmable marketing with adaptive data that creates a fluid and relevant user experience. 

Phillip Hayman, Head of Technical Services, Sales Engineering at Integral Ad Science
The number of clients using programmatic solutions has risen exponentially since early 2015. The utilisation of viewability and anti-fraud targeting segments represents the largest area of growth, with the majority of clients choosing to mitigate fraud risk using pre-bid validation.

Today, there is greater innovation in mobile and video in the programmatic space, as brands and agencies now expect the same controls and solutions to be transposed from display. While this expectation has posed a more complex challenge to the advertising industry over the last 18 months, grey areas such as in-app brand safety and video viewability are just starting to be addressed.

The dialogue around programmatic has become less around what is missing and holding us back, to something altogether more positive and focused on what can be achieved with the multi-channel tools at hand.

Joy Dean Director Partnerships, Western Europe and UK, Widespace
At this year’s dmexco, programmatic trends were of course the focus, however most talks were quite general or top level conversations and heavy on desktop metrics. No real talk of branded programmatic and the appropriate metrics of use to correlate between engagement and conversion nor how this could scale successfully.

As DMEXCO is a global event, it was surprising that there wasn’t more focus on these specific topics with global best practice cases around what’s working or not in the programmatic mobile brand space nor how it’s advancing branding metrics over performance.

Once hygiene factors such as viewability, ad blocking, brand safety and actual humans seeing the ads are sorted and standard, the conversation opens up to more exciting and useful topics such as creativity and branding metrics at scale.

Sadly the conversation was lacking.

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