Over the last couple of decades, digital advertising has shown steady growth with no signs of slowing. And why would it? With the use of smartphones and other mobile devices expanding rapidly, consumers have made a dynamic shift to digital, driving brands to the digital ad space.

Among the various trends that have sprouted in the digital ad landscape, programmatic advertising — a software-driven process of buying and selling of digital ad space with improved targeting and quicker, cheaper and better results — is the fastest growing phenomenon today.

Currently, more than 80% of all digital display ad spending in the US is programmatic, and it’s expected to grow by 19% this year, according to Zenith’s Programmatic Marketing Forecasts. The report also adds that 2019 will witness a whopping 65% of all digital media to turn programmatic. That’s a huge leap — and a sign for businesses that they stand to miss out on opportunities to increase the reach, engagement, and impact of their digital ads, if they aren’t exploring programmatic.

That said, let’s discuss some trends in programmatic advertising that you should watch out for this year.

Mobile advertising will dominate

As IAB’s latest Internet Advertising Revenue Report shows, mobile accounts for 63% of all digital ad revenue today, which closely reflects the finding that on average consumers are spending more than 70% of their online time on mobile devices. And, they are spending 90% of their time using mobile apps. This means we will see more brands leveraging in-app programmatic ads this year.

Analysts believe that the range of ad formats available through programmatic trading is expanding, though video ads, mobile games, interactive ads, static ads, and banners will be the most prominent formats to feature in in-app programmatic strategies for brands and agencies.  

Mobile video will be the differentiator

Along with the rise in digital display ad spending, all ad formats have shown a steady growth from a year ago, according to the IAB report. While search is generating the maximum digital ad revenue for brands ($22.8 billion), mobile — specifically mobile video — is poised to be the game changer. It is the fastest growing ad format that’s up by 61% from last year. So, if you’re planning to put your dollars into programmatic ads this year, adding mobile video to your strategy is a good idea.

There are three major types of programmatic video ads you can explore:

  • In-stream ads - These are ads that autoplay before, during or at the very end of a video. The ones you see on YouTube are an example of in-stream ads.
  • Out-steam ads - These ads pop-up and play mid-way through an online article or while scrolling a page. 
  • In-display ads - These are the ones that you see at the top of your YouTube feed. Unlike the other two types, these ads don’t autoplay and are the most non-intrusive type of ads.

You will need to choose your ad type based on who your target audience is, what your objectives are, and where your ads are going to be placed. However, just like any other piece of content, it’s essential to think about how you can communicate your message to your audience clearly and effectively without being pushy or annoying.  

Search continues to rise

The IAB report registered a 19% rise in total search ad revenue, which includes mobile and desktop. Also, mobile search and mobile display are approaching parity at $13.5B and $11.7B. Integrating search insights with location-based advertising tactics will allow brands to deliver hyper-targeted messages. While display ads will remain popular, it’s critical to craft the experience depending on whether it is mobile or desktop. Using ads developed for the desktop on mobile, and vice-versa, will ruin the user experience and flush your dollars down the drain.  

Social media advertising via programmatic grows further    

As a platform that has seen a jump of 38% in ad revenue, social will continue to be an area of focus for brands and advertisers. Interestingly, leveraging the precise targeting capabilities of programmatic is no longer limited to buying ads, promotions, and paid content on social media channels. A programmatic ad campaign on social media today can include influencer marketing, whereby brands can gain immensely by serving ads that include a face their audience knows and trusts.

If you’re looking to step into the programmatic ad landscape (which you should), or planning to take your game to the next level, keeping these trends in mind will help you stay up to date with your strategies.

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