Advertisers are growing more comfortable with programmatic media, but multidevice measurement remains a challenge. That’s among the issues raised in a recent report by eMarketer.

The digital research firm’s report “U.S. Programmatic Advertising: Seven Things Buyers and Sellers Need to Know Now” noted that programmatic advertising, which eMarketer defines as an automated method of buying, selling or fulfilling advertising, already accounts for more than half of U.S. digital display ad spending. The report said that programmatic is quickly becoming a common way to purchase video and mobile ad inventory. Programmatic is known to deliver a greater degree of efficiency, enables advertisers to pair audience data with ad inventory and offers enhanced audience-targeting capabilities that extend beyond cookie-based devices.

The seven key trends are: Header bidding, already a big part of the programmatic landscape, will continue to gain traction; programmatic native will begin to scale; programmatic ad creative will become a priority; data-driven buying will push programmatic deeper into television; buyers and sellers will pare back platforms and partnerships; platforms will see pressure to combine cross-channel and cross-screen efforts; and improvements in ad quality will help address fraud and viewability issues.

The development of programmatic ad creative involves dynamic ads that take a real-time approach. While real-time creative executions are often discussed, they’re challenging to generate and manage. “A lot of the struggle is just physically creating so many iterations of the ad unit,” said Lauren Fisher, senior analyst, eMarketer. Implementing dynamic creative can involve hundreds of thousands of images that need to be pulled into a single ad. Plus, large marketers need to run creative executions by legal teams, a time-consuming activity that works at cross-purposes with the notion of “real-time” creative.

The pruning of platforms and partnerships trend is less about ad-tech consolidation and more about problematic technology integrations, according to Fisher.  “People are tired of figuring out how to integrate everything. Some platforms are trying to offer more than one service so that one vendor is serving multiple functions.”

It’s not necessarily that advertisers are moving to a single-tech stack, but this year will see more companies moving to one key ad-tech provider and then pulling in specialists for specific things like video and native executions. But, Fisher emphasized, “Not everyone will shift in that direction. For some, it’s logical to have a single source, for others it’s not.” One limit of a single tech stack is that the provider offers both the execution and the measurement, which marketers may not like.

Programmatic buying is inching slowly over to TV for a data-optimized approach to buying. The pressure to combine cross-channel and cross-screen speaks to frustrations over the lack of an audience-centric approach to buying.

In a December 2015 survey of senior U.S. ad buyers by Cowen and Company, 57% of respondents said multidevice measurement was a major concern in using programmatic advertising, while 47% of those polled cited ad fraud and ad blocking as problems. Other major concerns: 35% cited ad blocking on smartphones, 18% called out privacy issues, and 16% raised “other” issues.

And issues of ad quality, namely fraud and viewability, will also continue to plague buyers and sellers. While greater standards and resolution might be on the horizon, added issues such as ad blocking remain unresolved.

Fisher cited multidevice measurement as a “very big deal now.”  She said the challenge isn’t just about reaching people on all their devices, but taking a more audience-centric approach to media buys. Facebook refers to it as “people-based” marketing. With programmatic, everything’s data-driven and marketers have the ability to use all data assets to target an audience.

“Advertisers want to see that mulitdevice capability and the measurement of it. There’s a huge desire to be able to target audiences across all the devices, and to understand what the targeting did,” Fisher explained.  Further, advertisers want to know whether they reached individuals on specific devices — and if they did, what were the results. While the execution of multidevice targeting exists, measurement capabilities have a ways to go.

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