European Marketers Hone Their Programmatic Buying Skills To Prepare For Growth

Luca Paderni


This is a guest post by Samantha Merlivat, a researcher serving B2C Marketing Professionals.

Programmatic advertising is revolutionizing the way online display is traded. It is set for high growth in 2015 across all of Europe and is a top item on marketers’ list of tech to investigate this year. After an initial take-up limited to direct-response, brand marketers are showing growing interest in programmatic buying and dedicating larger budgets to programmatic display campaigns. They embrace the ability to leverage first-party data to reach customers online and understand that therein lays their competitive advantage in the world of online display.

At the same time, European publishers – eager to meet brand marketers’ demand for more targeted, automated deals – are increasing the amount of premium inventory available through exchanges, primarily through private marketplaces. “In Europe, we see inventory and programmatic deals that are becoming more premium – even more so than in the US at moment,” notes Jerome Underhill, vice president of services and operations EMEA at AppNexus. These trends will fuel the growth of online media advertising spend, which will continue to expand at an annual rate of 12% in Western Europe until 2019.

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Digital Media Buying Gets The "Programmatic" Makeover

If you are, like me,  deeply involved with digital advertising, one of the industry mantras of the last few years was anything with a taste of “PROGRAMMATIC.”

Yes, you can say it with me now: “PRO·GRAM·MAT·IC.” Ahhhh. 

In reality, I think that we are only starting now to truly see programmatic methods and techniques adopted by ad sellers and buyers. Finally, in 2014 we have seen marketing leaders driving their digital media buying practices forward by combining rich customer data with algorithmically driven buying platforms to make digital advertising dollars more effective in reaching target audiences. And, while there is a long road ahead of us before the robots become self-aware, there are some key trends shaping the industry that point to a more sophisticated future for media buying:

1)      Budget increases - Major brands and massive holding companies have huge goals for programmatic spending. With P&G striving to buy 70% to 75% of digital ads programmatically by the end of the year, Google striving for 60% of digital marketing budget on programmatic, and what seems like an arms race amongst the holding companies to see who can spend more programmatically, the future of software-driven media buying looks bright.   

2)      Growth in TV-land - As marketing leaders have started to up the ante for programmatic, sellers have taken notice, specifically across video and TV. The buzz about programmatic TV is taking hold, and we are seeing a new generation of ad tech commit to solving that problem for advertisers.

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The Beginning Of The End For The "Programmatic" Ad Network

The acquisition of [X+1] by Rocketfuel signals the beginning of the end for “programmatic” ad networks. Since the industry’s shift to programmatic, countless ad networks have changed how they market themselves, adjusting their sales language to mimic legitimate programmatic platforms. The “programmatic” ad network insertion order-based and flat-rate business model has prolonged the black box opacity that spurred the need for demand side platforms and exchange based media buying. It’s only fitting that one of the industry’s most successful “programmatic” ad networks — Rocketfuel — is addressing client demand by making a move that launches them into the digital marketing SaaS market.

There is a lot to be said about the success that Rocketfuel has had in the industry; they have done great things for marketers looking to automate audience prospecting and retargeting. They certainly have done an amazing job marketing their programmatic chops, with the success of their AI product and their success with agencies running performance based campaigns. Their recent revenue growth and the fact that Rocketfuel had the capital to acquire a DSP/DMP in [X+1], are testaments to the success that they have had in the industry.

Despite their success, prolonging opacity for marketers in this market is a short-term strategy, and Rocketfuel is positioning itself for long-term success.

Coming from the agency trading desk world, I did not partner with Rocketfuel for several reasons:

  • Rocketfuel works with marketers and agencies on a flat-rate business model, which is aligned with traditional ad network buying.
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Let's Talk About Programmatic

Programmatic – one of digital marketing’s buzzwords of 2014. It seems today everyone is doing programmatic ad buying – and if you’re not, then some would say your media strategy is lagging behind. 

Most marketers are still trying to make sense of the programmatic buying space and answer questions like:

  • How should I be using programmatic and what can it do for my brand?
  • What types of programmatic technology should I be using?
  • Am I getting the most out of my current programmatic approach?
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