Recently, I came back from a week full of ad tech summits in NY. There was one word that a few years back was abuzz with comments such as, “Will it?” and “How will it?”, but today, it’s accepted as a reality. Programmatic is still an industry hot topic – many predicted epic growth and adoption of this technology, and they were right. Now that its position is accepted in today’s market, I ruminate over how it is looking to evolve.
The change from the traditional methods of advertising to the programmatic method relies heavily on data about consumers. Within a fraction of a second of loading a web page or a mobile app, the user is identified, categorized, matched to several databases, evaluated and bid on by dozens or more of competing bidders, and served an ad by the winner. The upwards trend of the mobile device has also impacted and merged with the aggregation of user data and consumer behavior. Mobile has allowed advertising to 'follow' the user, and provided the ability to further personalize ads by geo-locations.
As data mining becomes more expansive and sophisticated, the concept of programmatic segmentation is taking hold, allowing brands to define rules around which audience they want to engage. Networks and agencies can now use data to inform their marketing strategy. It’s no longer about buying on a particular site, it’s about a particular audience.
The next level of advertising will not be based on "per impression" only, rather it will be more individually based. It won’t be just about buying ads, or the right impression, but programmatically building the audience. Brands will soon be able to promote their products in interesting ways and engage specific customers – advertising to their audience one by one, as opposed to by segment. The targeting will be so precise, that the ads seen will be targeted for what that user is looking to purchase. This kind of intelligent advertising at its most advanced, will bring us closer to the world where users will never see an unwanted ad.
A key word for this future is 'personalized advertising'; knowing what the user wants based on the mined and analyzed information from multiple channels – and applying the correct ad for the user in a fast, to-the-point way.
However, since every impression is reviewed and the data about users is growing daily, online advertising and programmatic RTB will need a database of unparalleled proportions. Data overload is a considerable obstacle that needs resolution.
Another obstacle that will remain is that of malvertising. Since hackers are using ads increasingly more and more (and malvertising in video ads is just in its infancy), publishers will need to stay vigilant in keeping malware OUT.
Hackers now have a relatively easy way of distributing malware to targeted victims; they sneak malicious code into an ad in the online ad distribution and delivery chain, specify their target demographic – and watch as they hit their mark. With this new personalized advertising roadmap, it will be even harder to monitor and stop these types of campaigns as they will target specific users and not a certain demographic. What will be needed is an automated ad security system that can mimic real user characteristics and behavior patterns will be able to catch the malvertisement in real-time.
While this post presented a lot of informed speculation, one thing is for certain – ad technology will continue to evolve. The future for programmatic has many possible permutations, although, the move toward personalized advertising seems clear to me. My hope is that the advancement of that technology in addition to our ad security technology will help foster a more engaging and cleaner ecosystem – a happier and more lucrative place for all.