2019 was another year of a massive growth and change in programmatic advertising. We saw, among others, Google introducing their Unified Price Auction, increasing popularity of header bidding and another steps aimed at improving user privacy and safety of the whole ecosystem. While the pace of growth is likely to decrease due to market maturation and saturation, there are still many things that will probably gain traction in the future. So, as 2020 has just begun, we decided to share our view on what we can expect to be the most important topics in the terms of programmatic.
Unified user ID
As low rates of cookie matching are still an issue, and at the same time we are heading towards server-side solutions (more on this below), there will certainly be more need for some industry-wide unified user ID framework. The first steps have already been made by IAB in a form of DigiTrust (source DigiTrust), by multi-vendor Advertising ID Consortium (source Advertising ID Consortium), some vendors, eg. the Trade Desk and their Unified ID (source The Trade Desk) and login alliances like German NetID (source netID). But the industry has not agreed which one to use as a standard yet.
Given that, it is likely there will be more push on unification and standardization. Once it happens and one of these frameworks gets highly adopted, the problems with matching user identity across devices and vendors will probably shrink. It is extremely important also in the light of privacy concerns and the decline of cookies, the topics we covered in one of the previous blog posts.
Server-side header bidding on the rise
Prebid.js remains to be the most popular header bidding standard (source Adzerk) and it is mainly its client-side version. Even though in the past we stated that according to our experience there is no real alternative to this solution yet (and we still believe it is the true), we expect server-to-server technologies to become more popular next year. The primary reason is that, as they already come with benefits of relatively simple and easy implementation and seamless user experience stemming from the fact that all the bidding happens outside of a browser, there will be more value to them over time. This value will come from better cookie sync (as mentioned above) and growing list of integrated demand partners.
Prebid Server is already gaining traction in the US, and as it is also an open-source Prebid.org product just like prebid.js, we think the level of its adoption will constantly rise. Beyond that, we are pretty confident to assume that Google’s Open Bidding and Amazon’s TAM will increase their footprint as well.
Video and native header bidding
While video accounts for nearly 50% of programmatic ad spending in the US (source eMarketer), video header bidding is still way behind display. The primary cause lies in technological challenges resulting from the fact that video creatives are heavier and require additional technology to render. Managing different vendors can be complex under such circumstances and lead to latencies, which may be dangerous for user experience. Still, the technology is already there (source Video Ad News) and it is quite realistic to assume that its popularity will grow.
When it comes to native, the situation is partially similar. Native advertising in general accounts for more than a half of digital ad spending in the US (source eMarketer), but remains slow to embrace header bidding. Even though native formats are now available via prebid.js on mobile web and there is a growing list of adapters supporting them (source Prebid.org), apparent lack of standardization has hampered their adoption by publishers. Still, as the industry and technologies mature, we expect more publishers will attempt to onboard native via header bidding in 2020.
Audio formats has been available programmatically for several years already and the technology has been there as well (source ExchangeWire), but buyers were somehow slow to adopt it due to problems with getting user consent and audio ad measurement. An important step addressing the latter has been made though. Last December, IAB released their Open Measurement SDK 1.3 (source IAB), which now also supports audio ads. We believe that, as long as the new OM SDK gains momentum, the demand for programmatic audio will significantly increase. All in all, proper campaign and ad measurement is one of the most widely discussed topics and challenges in modern advertising, and it is not different when it comes to audio ad formats.
The list above certainly is not an exhaustive one, still this is where be place our bets for 2020.
And what are your bets?
Please let us know in the comments or just e-mail us at [email protected]