Lookback at 2018 Programmatic Media Buying Trend Predictions – Did They Come True?

At the start of 2018, our Digilant marketing team spent time researching and compiling what we believed would be the top 10 important programmatic media buying trends of 2018. As hard as it is to believe, 2018 has come to a close. We’ve decided to look back on this list and determine  which predictions were right on point and which fell short of expectations.

1.About 86% of brand marketers are thinking about in-housing some portion of their programmatic journey.
Half way through the year, a.list released new data regarding programmatic in-housing. They found that “18 percent of brands have fully in-housed their programmatic media placement, and another 47 percent have at least partially done so. Only 13 percent of brands have started the process and decided against it, and 22 percent have not in-housed and do not plan to.” IAB stated that the trend to in-house programmatic was overestimated and that a shift toward complete in-housing will not happen anytime soon. Companies have discovered that  they can’t completely untether themselves from the expertise that third-party agencies hold in the market.

2. 80% of programmatic advertisers are accelerating or prioritizing programmatic ads with top benefits being better audience targeting, ability to build audience reach, and real-time optimization. (ANA “The State of Programmatic Media Buying”)

eMarketer stated that “more than 82 percent of U.S. display ad spend will be purchased using programmatic technologies by 2020.” Although advertisers new to programmatic still question the transparency and how to measure the results of campaigns through programmatic, they are very drawn to the ability to directly target consumers. As work continues to be done to eliminate ad fraud, advertisers will not pass up the ability to reach their target audience in real-time.

3. Billions of dollars will be gained by publishers as programmatic platforms adopt and enforce Ads.txt in a uniform way.

Although the exact number of dollars gained through Ads.txt has not been released, it has definitely been quickly adapted by publishers and advertisers throughout the year. “51% of websites worldwide have adopted ads.txt.” Because of the ability to eliminate counterfeit inventory, publishers and advertisers are seeing the benefits of ads.txt and will continue to utilize it going into 2019.  

4. In 2018, significantly more OTT and CTV inventory will be bought and monetized programmatically for the more than 56 Million consumers who have cut the cord on cable. (eMarketer)

In July of this year, techcrunch released a report that stated the number of people cutting the cord was growing even faster than emarketer initially projected. “[eMarketer] is now projecting the number of those ditching their subscriptions to cable and satellite TV will climb 32.8 percent this year to reach 33 million people.” The number of people switching to streaming and online platforms is reaffirming the increase in OTT and CTV inventory that was and continues to be purchased during 2018. Mediapost reported that Magna projects that OTT ad spending will jump 40%, reaching over $2 billion this year. With this growing digital ad channel, advertisers need to continue to educate themselves on the differences and benefits as compared to linear TV.

5. Video display ads are expected to be the second leading highest ad spend platform in 2018 and in 2019. (eMarketer)

The power of video display ads continues to dominate the market. In October, Marketing Land released statistics that affirm  the power of video, especially on social platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat. On these platforms, video revenue share in 2018 made up 55%, 28.9% and 60%, respectively, of all ad revenue. Brands love using video advertising. It resonates with the consumer, driving ROI. It is clear that social media combined with the popularity of OTT and CTV will continue to drive the domination of video display ads.

6. In 2018 Programmatic investment on mobile will reach $30 Billion +, over 3X the amount spent on desktop. (eMarketer)

This prediction still reigns true. eMarketer updated this projection stating that by 2020 two thirds of programmatic media spending will go towards mobile. This increase will continue to grow due to the popularity of Google and Facebook and their increasing penetration  of programmatic inventory. However, as CTV and OTT continue to grow, they will also take a share of programmatic marketing dollars, ensuring that mobile doesn’t completely dominate.

7. This year alone display ad spending is expected to reach $37.20 billion and in 2018, it’s expected to reach $41.87 billion. (eMarketer)

This prediction has reached our expectations and then some. eMarketer more recently released a report stating that display ad spending will reach $48 billion by the end of the year.

8. Instagram stories blows past Snapchat with 200 Million Daily Active Users as Generation Z becomes more valuable to most organizations than millennials. (Statista)

Our team underestimated this projection as the power of Gen Z has continued to grow through the year. In June, CNBC reported that Instagram had blown past Snapchat’s daily active users with 400 million and 191 million respectively.  Instagram continues to make improvements to their app that resonates with both generation, whereas Snapchat has failed to listen to their users requirements, costing them marketing dollars and social media power.

9. Google owned 75.8% of the search market in 2016 and it’s aiming to reach 80% of the search market in 2018. (eMarketer)

Not long after our predictions were released, Business Insider revealed that Google owns 90.8% of the search market. This greatly exceeded their hope of 80%, proving their dominance in the search market.

10. Increased demand for more “native” experiences will drive programmatic native spend, reaching $24 billion+ by years end compared to $13.24 billion in 2016. (eMarketer)

Native ads are viewed 53% more than banner ads, as reported by Zypmedia, which clearly shows why the demand for this ad format is growing. By the end of 2018, native ad spend is projected to surpass $21 billion, a little less than originally projected at the beginning of the year, but it is still a very profitable and desired advertising format.
Overall, our team’s predictions for the year reigned true. We stated that there would a lot of noise around the topics of in-housing, ads.txt, OTT, DOOH, native, transparency, attribution and how digital media buying will be going fully programmatic in the next couple of years, and these proved to be hot topics throughout the year. As we saw these trends evolve throughout the year, it is important for digital advertisers to stay ahead of the trends.  Keep tuning into our blog as we start discussing trends for 2019 – or reach out to us now to talk about your programmatic media buying needs.

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