It was not long ago that “programmatic” became a term nearly everyone in the digital media space started using in their everyday vocabulary. The shift from direct buys to more data-driven programmatic display campaigns came quickly, and the category of programmatic digital display will hit a yearly ad spend of nearly $46 billion within the next two years, per eMarketer.

US Programmatic

With programmatic comes a great deal of optimizations, done in real-time, ranging from device-specific bids to shifts in domains, audience personas, and much more. KPIs, whether viewed as a purchase, sign up, or simply effective awareness and a strong click-through rate, will continue to evolve, and with that comes thoughts surrounding how digital is structured today.

Will anything dramatic happen in the programmatic display space overnight, right now? Probably not. However, that does not mean that we are safe from “blockbusters” in the ad tech space.

Trend #1: Unified Ad Tech Solutions

Just weeks ago, Sizmek, a leading ad serving platform, announced the acquisition of Rocket Fuel, a well-known Demand Side Platform (DSP). Per their press release, “The acquisition brings together two of the world’s most respected names in advertising technology, to create one of the largest independent marketing platforms built for agencies and brands.”

With this acquisition, while still in the early stages, we are looking at a unique ad server/vendor relationship that could be the starting point of similar mergers in the coming years. As brands shift their eyes to metrics like viewability and transparency (in regards to where their ads are running), this new relationship could provide Sizmek with the data and infrastructure it needs to further cater to advertisers and supply them with the deeper analysis that they’re looking for.

Trend #2: Artificial Intelligence (AI) Usage in the Marketing Space Expands

Similar to the aforementioned Sizmek and Rocket Fuel deal, artificial intelligence will not immediately disrupt business decisions pertaining to digital advertising, but it may only be 3-5 years away from impacting creative executions, landing pages, and campaign measurement.

At the top of the list, in which marketing leaders spoke with Salesforce, was the desire to “deliver the right message, on the right channel, at the right time.” Programmatic ad buys have already accomplished this to a degree, but as technology and data continues to be refined, look for artificial intelligence to take targeting and performance to a new level.

Trend #3: Campaign-Based Audience Insights

Advertisers certainly care about their campaign performance in regards to CTR and conversions, but these days, audience insights have become incredibly valuable pieces of data. Data management platforms (DMPs) such as Krux, Lotame and Turn provide exactly that. These platforms can now paint the whole picture of an advertising campaign by showing the “digital DNA” of a user who has clicked or converted on an ad, or more simply, by comparing the users who saw a display impression and went to their landing page versus the users who visited the site without ever being hit with a banner or native advertisement.

Furthermore, advertisers can now learn more about the behaviors and categories that their top-performing consumers fit into. Perhaps a travel brand learns that they share a lot of overlap in regards to performance with sports fans, but little to none with cooking enthusiasts. A piece of knowledge like this can be used to tweak bids or site lists to hit the sports fan who is more likely to click/convert, and not to mention, these insights can be carried from campaign to campaign. That is where the value of a data management platform truly lies.