Programmatic now accounts for 28% of UK display ads- IAB – Digital Intelligence daily digital marketing research.

Almost three in every 10 pounds spent on online display ads in 2013 were bought through ‘programmatic’ technologies, with a forecast that these types of ads will make up nearly half (47%) in 2014, according to new research.

Conducted by research and strategy consultancy MTM on behalf of the Internet Advertising Bureau UK (IAB), the “Media Owner Sales Techniques” study shows that of the £1.86 billion spent on display ads across the internet and mobile in 2013, 28% (about £500m million) was traded programmatically.

‘Programmatic’ refers to display ads that are bought and sold using automated systems and processes such as real-time bidding.

Key findings include:

• Programmatic accounts for 28% of UK digital display ad sales (about £500 million); forecast to account for nearly 50% in 2014

• Rises to account for 37% on mobile

• Overall, half of digital display ad sales accounted for by direct sales while just over a fifth are through ad networks

Direct sales between publishers and agencies/advertisers accounted for half (51%) of UK digital display ad sales while just over a fifth (22%) were bought through ad networks.

“Prior to this new research there was no reliable way to evaluate how big a role programmatic plays in the display market so it was time to put a stake in the ground and give the industry accurate numbers,” says Tim Elkington, Director of Research & Strategy at the UK’s Internet Advertising Bureau.

“It’s important the industry understands how the market is split as it enables all those involved – media owners, advertisers and agencies – to take advantage of the exciting opportunities programmatic presents.”

Programmatic more dominant in mobile, less so in video

Whilst programmatic accounts for 28% of all digital display ads, this rises to 37% on mobile. In comparison, only 16% of internet video ads (excluding mobile video) are traded programmatically.


E.g. 51% of all digital display ads were purchased direct

Elkington comments: “Programmatic is more dominant on mobile due to various factors; it’s a more fragmented ecosystem and, being relatively harder to monetise, has enabled a wide range of intermediaries to develop more quickly, particularly having learned lessons from serving ads programmatically on PCs.”

Programmatic to account for almost half of digital display ads in 2014

The share of ads bought through programmatic technologies is estimated to grow from 28% in 2013 to almost half (47%) in 2014 and could reach up to 60-75% of total digital display advertising by 2017.

“Programmatic has risen primarily because of the efficiencies it provides marketers when faced with an overwhelming level of digital inventory and audience fragmentation,” concludes Elkington. “It’s likely to grow even faster as the market becomes more experienced using programmatic, has a greater understanding of how it works, and is properly educated around the negative perceptions associated with programmatic trading.”

Martin Kelly, CEO/Co-Founder of Infectious Media – a leading player in real-time advertising, commented on the IAB’s findings: “The growth of programmatic media trading in the UK is no surprise. The big story here is the underlying growth of display advertising. Programmatic has breathed new life into this previously exhausted channel. This turnaround of display is the surest sign that advertisers are waking up to the power that programmatic media buying gives them.”

MTM’s figures are based on detailed submissions from 23 companies, supplemented by a further 35 in-depth interviews and group discussions with industry participants. These were analysed and synthesised with the annual IAB/PwC Digital Adspend data. 

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