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Key Points

  • Programmatic platforms are on pace to fundamentally reshape the entire digital advertising landscape. 

    • Real-time bidding (RTB), the key piece of the programmatic ecosystem, will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 42% between 2013 and 2018.
    • RTB spending on mobile, video, and display ads will account for over $18.2 billion of U.S. digital ad sales in 2018, up from just $3.1 billion in 2013.
  • This growth will be driven by the proliferation of dedicated video and mobile programmatic platforms. Sales of mobile and video ads through RTB will top $6.8 billion and $3.9 billion in 2018, respectively.
  • Top programmatic ad companies include Criteo, Rocket Fuel, the Rubicon Project, and two firms that AOL has acquired, Ad.com and Adapt.tv. These four companies pulled in more than $1.5 billion in combined global ad revenue in 2013, accounting for more than one-tenth of global programmatic ad dollars.
  • The composition of the programmatic ecosystem has changed as new ad tech companies and older digital ad networks absorb new technologies to automate the buying and selling of digital ads. Key players include demand-side platforms, supply-side platforms, and ad exchanges.
  • Despite the widespread adoption of programmatic advertising, there are still a number of barriers to adoption. Top barriers include brand worries that they will lose control over where their ads will appear, internal resistance at ad agencies, and lack of transparency in the industry over methods and results.

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Introduction

Survey OrganizationsThatUseRealTimeBiddingBII

Programmatic platforms are automating much of the ad buying and selling process and increasing the accuracy of execution.

Programmatic technologies are helping ad buyers find the right audience at the right price at the right time.

For an introduction to programmatic advertising, please read our report from 2013.

Many advertisers and publishers have already embraced programmatic technologies like real-time bidding (RTB).

  • More than four-fifths of advertisers already use auction-based ad buying tools like RTB, and more than 90% expect to use the technology within the next two years, according to a 2013 survey by the Winterberry Group and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB).
  • Just under three-quarters of publishers use RTB ad-selling tools, and more than four-fifths plan to use the technology within the next two years.

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