eSports: How Will Programmatic Emerge Into This Growing Industry?

The world of esports, has been evolving and attracting attention in pop culture since the turn of the millenium. Esports, as the name implies, is defined as electronic sports. They differ from traditional sports and sport leagues because the games are constantly changing, rather than set rules, each unique game poses new challenges, obstacles and intrigue. This variance in action and energy is what is making the concept of online sports so attractive to millenials.

Esports have two major viewing and engagement formats: live in-person tournaments and online events. Huge esport tournaments take place all of the world, where people come to compete in large arenas, just as in traditional sports. In 2013, the Staples Center hosted 13,000 fans to watch a South Korean team defeat a Chinese team in the championship final of League of Legends. This mass gathering of esports fans confirmed their popularity and influence. As watching sports online has continued to grow in popularity with more
streamers, it has given esports fans more ways to watch their favorite players compete. Twitch, a online subscription service owned by Amazon, allows user to watch and stream digital video broadcasts. This gives fans a chance to interact directly with their favorite players in a way that traditional sports cannot offer. This is one of the reasons esports have grown in popularity among the 21-35 male demographic. And, with such an important demographic as a fan base, advertisers, now more than ever, are figuring out ways to deepen their understanding and presence in this market.

In most recent years, the only way to advertise with esports was through sponsorship, which actually accounts for 40% of esports’ profit growth. However, esports is weary to accept sponsorship from big companies who are only interested in short-term deals. Esports wants to make sure that the companies will support them for the long-haul. However, because esports, at this point, are largely unregulated, it can also be very difficult to convince companies to invest large sums of money.

With this combination of factors, Twitch has begun to move their focus toward programmatic. Digiday reported that an agency exec said that Twitch has been “asking for advertisers to commit to spend at least $50,000 per campaign in exchange for a certain number of impressions.” Twitch hit $1 billion in ad sales in 2018, so combining this substantial ad revenue stream alongside Amazon’s advertising platform, they have set themselves up to be a huge player to watch in the programmatic marketing space. As advertisers have realized that this is a great platform to reach 21-35 males, Twitch is pitching  themselves as more than a online game streaming service.

In the next few month, it will be interesting to watch how esports continue to influence sports, advertising and programmatic markets. New platforms like Twitch and esports are great new programmatic opportunities for advertisers to jump on.  Advertisers are always searching for new ways to target audiences and this niche is definitely an opportunity that media buyers can keep in their back pocket when setting strategies for 2019.

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.

Amazon Advertising – $1 Trillion Valuation Is Just the Beginning

On September 4, 2018, Amazon became the second publicly traded company in the United States to reach a $1 trillion valuation. Just before noon, Amazon shares reached $2,050.49, before falling slightly to $2,037, ending the day just shy of the 13-figure number. Hitting this milestone in a short month after Apple became the first company to hit this valuation leaves many to speculate which of these 2 players will reach the $2 trillion number first.

Apple, which hit the $1 trillion revenue mark on August 2, 2018, brought in $48 billion in profits last year. Amazon, on the other hand, only saw one tenth of that profit number. But, interestingly, The New York Times reported that in a Facebook poll run by a group of young Wall Street Investors, which posed the question of which company would reach $2 trillion first, the vote overwhelmingly favored Amazon. With lower revenue numbers, what makes people so confident that a company making less money will have a more profitable future?
With a very diversified plan for the future, there are a few different aspects of Amazon’s strategy that give people confidence in the company – for example its breakout into health and pharmaceuticals, AI advancements and physical stores. But the one offering that most feel will propel Amazon into their successful future is advertising. Back in January, we wrote about how Amazon took 4th place for display ad buying in 2017 and is keeping its eyes on 3rd place. This growth has not slowed down with their ad business recently surpassing $2 billion in quarterly sales. This number might seem small when compared to digital ad giants, Google – who brought in $35 billion in digital ad dollars in 2017 – and Facebook – $17.37 billion. However, Amazon has not come anywhere close to capping the advertising capabilities on their different platforms.

Before making any major additions to its advertising, Amazon just announced that they are rebranding themselves. To avoid any confusion. Amazon Advertising will now encompass Amazon Media Group, Amazon Marketing Services and Amazon Ad Platform.

  • Amazon Media Group: This group handled customized ads that required special collaboration from Amazon.
  • Amazon Marketing Services: This is where brands and agencies could participate in ad auctions and buy display, search and video ads
  • Amazon Ad Platform: This is where advertisers were able to target ads outside of Amazon

As Amazon Advertising now encompasses all of these areas, Amazon Marketing Services will be referred to ad “advertising console” and Amazon Ad Platform will now be known as Amazon DSP. Senior VP of Amazon Advertising stated, “This is another step towards our goal of providing advertising solutions that are simple and intuitive for the hundreds of thousands of advertisers who use our products.” This simple brand change will enable the company to push further into digital advertising.

Most of Amazon’s current advertising dollars come from product search results and sellers sponsor product slots. They are at a huge advantage as they collect data from consumers actual shopping habits, rather than just interests and searches. When ads are placed on Amazon, advertisers have a great opportunity to reach consumers at the critical moment when they are about to make a purchase.

Beyond this, Amazon has great opportunities to build advertising products on top of its existing properties, giving them a larger market share of the $88 billion digital ad industry. There is talk that they will soon sell ad space on their Thursday night football stream Twitch, a live streaming video platform. Twitch users could soon see ads if they opted out of the $9/month premium subscription. And, Amazon has yet to run ads on Amazon Prime Video. These are a few of the tactics that Amazon might introduce to reach $22 billion in digital ad revenue by 2020, making them the third largest digital advertiser.

Now is a great opportunity to take advantage of Amazon’s Advertising and DSP platform. If you want to learn more about Amazon’s capabilities and how it can add value to your media plan, or ask questions about Amazon’s Advertising capabilities, Digilant can help. Reach out to us here.

Marketers on the Move – Summer at Digilant

It’s hard to believe that the summer is almost over. Looking back, at Digilant, we’ve been quite busy. For the marketing team it’s been a summer for making moves. Both our lead generation specialist, Mitchell Carey, and content marketing specialist, Sierra Ducey,  found themselves hopping coasts and continents. A nimble and global team, Sierra the San Diegan transitioned from going to school and interning at Digilant to permanently relocating to Boston and working as a full time employee, while lifelong Bostonian Mitchell, packed his bags to work on a project in Barcelona. We caught up with these programmatic marketers to see how their summers have panned out.

Barcelona – Mitchell Carey

This summer has definitely been full of unexpected but very welcome surprises – one in particular that I’ll never forget. After working here at Digilant in Boston for a little over a year, my supervisor, Digilant’s VP of Marketing, Karen Moked, brought up a project in the Iberoamerican market that one of our colleagues in Barcelona might appreciate some assistance with. Initially, I was under the impression that getting involved in the project would require working on some brand positioning from the comfort of our new office. However, shortly after the project was mentioned, Karen asked if I’d be willing to temporarily relocate to Barcelona.
For a bit of background, Digilant forms part of ispDigital, a holding group founded by the Rodés family through their family office, Inversiones y Servicios Publicitarios (ISP). Barcelona is home to ISP’s headquarters. After what were two very interesting months, I’m back and ready to go full speed ahead with our team here in the U.S.

World Cup viewing party at the Barcelona office

While in Barcelona I observed a number of unique differences in the market that influenced digital advertising throughout the summer. From a more engaged World Cup public, greater emphasis on multicultural marketing as advertisers targeted various regional, national, and international audiences all found in one city, and the very high precedence that GDPR compliance took for brands within the EU, I learned that just like any campaign, the Spanish market applies its own custom solutions to run programmatic. All of these characteristics of the Spanish market have a direct impact on how Digilant analyzes, manipulates, and activates data to create effective digital marketing strategies for our clients in Europe.

Another very interesting experience during my time abroad was getting to know Acceso, a media and consumer intelligence consultancy and fellow ispDigital company. I happened to arrive just before the AMEC (Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication) Global Summit, one of the largest digital communications industry events of the year that Acceso participated in as the headline sponsor. The three day conference was chock-full of workshops, networking sessions, panels, and lively discussion on all things measurement, including PR KPIs, AI & blockchain’s role in communication, data analytics, and more.
Back in Beantown, I’m happy to be reunited with all of my friends, family, and the Digilant U.S. team, but am excited to stay in touch with the colleagues I’ve met abroad and continue to learn more about programmatic and digital advertising from across the pond.

Boston – Sierra Ducey

View from the new Boston office

At the Boston office, we began our summer with a big office move – well really, just down the hall. But, with a more open layout and great views of the Financial District, we have quickly fallen in love with our new space (and we’re still able to hit all of our favorite lunch spots!).
In the midst of the move, we hosted a great Dinner Panel that covered all things Blockchain. With attendees from a variety of companies all over New England, our speakers, Dave Balter, Partner at Flipside Crypto, Isaac Lidsky, President at Underscore CLT and Erich Wasserman, CoFounder of MediaMath shared their thoughts and predictions on how blockchain will affect advertisers, publishers and everyday people. After an insightful conversation and delicious dinner, we were surprised with a great fireworks show over the Boston Harbor. It was quite the way to kick off the summer!

World Cup viewing party at the Boston office

Personally, I’ve had a blast working on some of my own projects. These projects have really advanced my understanding of marketing and programmatic – learning tactics and practices that aren’t touched on very thoroughly in school. In May, Digilant launched a programmatic campaign for our company. Going through the process of creating content, finding the right segments and watching the campaign through gave me great insight into Digilant’s business practices. We have also been revamping out direct mail campaigns, a strategy that was not focused on in my classes, but that I believe is a very effective use of time and resources. In school, there is so much focus on digital trends and taking advantage of technology, so this was my first real exposure to mail campaigns, a great way of getting back to the roots of marketing. There’s no denying, everyone loves receiving packages so coming up with fun ideas to get potential client’s attention has been a fun challenge for me.

To finish out the summer, we welcomed Mitchell back from his summer travels at our Office Summer Luau Party. In the coming weeks, as I officially transition from college student to full-time employee continues, I’m excited to learn more and challenge myself in the world of programmatic marketing.

Summer may be winding down, but as fall approaches, marketers and advertisers need to be prepared for their media buying to ramp up. Looking to get in touch with a team of dedicated programmatic experts to plan your next digital media buying campaign? Check out our customized media buying solutions.

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