Programmatic Predictions: Big Spenders, Big Surprises

Q4 is here already, at exactly the same time it was here last year – but programmatic spending is going to shake thing up a bit. Last year, programmatic had more of a stigma and hesitancy surrounding it. Big brands did not have as much confidence that an automated buying system would safely deliver their message to the right audience eloquently. Flash-forward to today, and the industry has done a great job educating and proving what a powerful mechanism programmatic is, if done correctly. Programmatic does not show any signs of wavering.

So what better time of year to wager how programmatic will unfold than Q4? Big brands are already buying inventory programmatically and it has proven advantageous to capturing consumers’ attention. I’ve seen some incredible category results on our marketplace and have some predictions of who will be pumping more money into programmatic this quarter, and why.

Big Brand Buy-In

Many news outlets have reported the increasing spend that certain brands have allotted to programmatic. Why the shift in spend? Programmatic technology has evolved in the past year, there is much more inventory at greater quality, buyers can reach their audience at scale, ad units have evolved, and the buys are much more cost-effective. The biggest caveats for many brands are the applications put into place to ensure brand safety and ad viewability.

Q4 Programmatic Primetime

A programmatic ad campaign can bring incredible results to advertisers during Q4. Brands across most categories will compete for a consumer’s attention during this time of year, whether it is to increase brand awareness, highlight a one-day offer, increase in-store traffic, or help you find the perfect gift. Programmatic ad capabilities have become smarter and can easily target the right audience and, if using some of the more sophisticated ad units on the market, can remain in-view through a page session. This translates into higher performance, less waste, and better results.

Early Observations

Taking a look into our own programmatic marketplace, we have uncovered some interesting trends. The first thing to note is almost every big brand buys ads programmatically and if they don’t, they’re mostly likely behind the competition. We have seen companies from every category imaginable – however, CPG, consumer electronics, e-commerce, and retail, in particular, have shown high click-through rates and growth. Here are a few insightful statistics:

  • 96 percent of the Internet Retailer top 50 run ads on the 33Across Programmatic Marketplace 
  • Nine out of 10 automotive makers run ads programmatically
  • More than 50 pure e-tailers buy programmatically
  • Top consumer electronics companies have achieved click-through rates as high as 1.4 percent


It’s no secret that retailers live for the holiday season. They need to get out time-sensitive promotions, be in view, and reach their audience. No doubt they’ll be the biggest programmatic spenders. When looking at the top 10 retailers on our marketplace we have seen incredibly high results. I would be willing to bet that this trend would extend through Q4 with even higher results.

Retailers aren’t the only ones who are expecting to get the attention of the holiday spender. Consumer electronics are also vying for attention to showcase new products and buzz, especially with emerging products which are slated to grow by 242 percent year-over-year in 2014. No doubt programmatic’s scale will help achieve this amount of category growth.

Aside from Q4 gift giving, there are a few other groups that need to heavily promote their products. Q4 is a huge time of year for the auto industry as they try to clear out the current year’s inventory to make room for new models. Consumer products will also up the ante in Q4 to make way for holiday recipes, stocking stuffers, and close out the year promoting mainstay brands.

So which category will come out on top? Well, that’s up to the buyers. But the big winners will be the publishers who will see more revenue and quality advertisers via programmatic partners than ever before. As I’ve said before, programmatic has to be done correctly and you need to do your research. Yes, you have to muddle through a lot of different vendors to find the savvy companies that can deliver sophisticated solutions that drive great results, but they’re out there. Here’s to a record-breaking programmatic Q4.

Related reading