Primer on Programmatic Buying and Mobile RTB Triggers in 2014

Marketers often ask me – What is programmatic buying? Why go programmatic? Who are the players? Why do I need RTB (real time bidding)? What would trigger Mobile RTB in 2014? In this article I’ve attempted to answer some of these questions.

What is programmatic buying?

Programmatic buying is the art and science of trading media at scale using technology or data. The term gained popularity in the context of online display advertising but has spread rapidly to online video and mobile as well. Not only this, the questions are emerging – can we buy TV advertising programmatically?

Why go programmatic?

One counter-question: Why not? Across the world some of the most sophisticated media traders have embraced it and helped shape it. Most common benefits: simple as advertisers use one platform to buy across multiple exchanges, transparent for audience and placements to be bought, control to define your own business parameters, data driven for first or third- parties and can be optimized or bided on a real time basis.

Who are the players?

The number of players that partner to make programmatic work is phenomenal. On the media trading side – it has led to the evolution of trading desks (like Accuen, Vivaki, Amnet, and Xaxis) inside the large media agencies or hybrid networks (Rocketfuel, Criteo, Vizury etc) while on the technology side the 3 large pillars are:

  • Advertising exchanges/ SSPs (e.g. DoubleClick AdX, Pubmatic, MoPub, and Rubicon)
  • Demand-side platforms (DSPs like DBM, Turn, Mediamath etc)
  • Data Providers/ data management platforms (Eyeota).

Why do I need RTB?

Let’s start with a simple scenario: Rahul is accessing the Internet using different devices at different times of the day. As an advertiser do I value him differently for impression based on time or device? To add to this complexity – he just came to the shopping cart of my site for TV versus shirt. Should I value him differently based on the product he’s interested in? Questions like this can go on-and-on in an advertiser’s mind.

Programmatic buying today provides an opportunity where you can not only attach different value to each ad-impression based on 100+ parameters but also optimize for the media buying on a real-time basis (RTB). The benefits of RTB vary based on audience segments as well as the intelligence of the algorithm optimizing for the bidding and creative based on it but can be huge when done right.

Mobile RTB triggers for 2014?

2013 has been an expansive year for growing programmatic in Asia since the launch of advertising exchanges in 2011. Many markets in Asia (Australia, Singapore, China, Japan, India) have embraced desktop display and video RTB leading to rapid growth in the advertising dollars flowing through RTB. On the other hand, mobile programmatic has been on a slow start, to some extent limited by targeting capabilities around Device IDs, location and X-device. While technology shall continue to evolve this year, two changes that should give strong traction to mobile RTB are:

  1. Leveraging the new device IDs in Android (advertising ID) and iOS (IDFA): The availability of these IDs make re-targeting on mobile apps possible, which has been an important advertiser requirement driving desktop programmatic. Also they strike a fine balance between advertiser targeting capability and user privacy controls.
  2. Location based targeting: The availability of “hyperlocal” location signals using latitude and longitude information is now increasingly available on exchanges. So if you wanted to reach customers relaxing in “Sentosa beach in Singapore” differentially from the ones shopping at “Vivocity mall” you can do that now.

The development of the broader programmatic ecosystem in Asia combined with the technology innovations sets the stage well for mobile RTB to strong growth in 2014. I look forward to another exciting year in Asia!

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