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Where’s Programmatic TV Heading in 2018?

2018 looks to be a big year for programmatic TV, with industry observers like eMarketer predicting ad spending in the US will reach more than $2 billion. The growing appeal for this buying method is based on its ability to blend the scale and reach of TV with the precise targeting and measurement of digital. But that doesn’t mean programmatic TV is without its challenges. Many in the industry predict the year ahead will also bring greater attention (and scrutiny) to programmatic buying. Here are three predictions for programmatic TV in 2018.

Programmatic TV will be a bigger priority for agencies and marketers
It’s not just ad spending forecasts that suggest a positive shift in the ad industry’s opinion of programmatic TV. Surveys of marketers’ and agency professionals’ perceptions toward the buying method also indicate it will be a more important focus in 2018. According to a December 2017 survey by Adobe, 86% of brands and 89% of agencies plan to spend more on all programmatic ad buying in 2018. The same survey also found that 56% of agency professionals and 38% of marketers expect programmatic TV will be a clear priority for them this year.

Programmatic TV will see a growing focus on campaign transparency
Thanks to the efforts of ad industry advocates like P&G’s Marc Pritchard, we can expect advertisers and their publisher partners will continue to push for more accountability and transparency in campaign measurement. For some, this will mean a shift toward more buying of programmatic ad inventory using their own “in-house” teams. For other ad industry players like the programmatic ad technology vendor Sizmek, it means a move toward “total transparency” policy that provides itemized information about the previously hidden technology fees and costs often associated with programmatic campaigns. This trend toward transparency will likely have a big impact on programmatic TV campaigns as well.

Programmatic TV will achieve greater scale
Perhaps the best sign for programmatic TV’s growth in 2018 is the rapidly expanding range of digital publishers and ad platforms that already (or will soon) offer such inventory. For example, most programmatic TV up to now was only offered with on-demand or so-called “over-the-top” ad campaigns. Executive Daniel Gilbert of British digital agency Brainlabs, however, believes 2018 will be the year that programmatic TV will be offered for “linear” TV campaigns that are broadcast live to viewers. Meanwhile, other digital ad giants like Google and Amazon are working to expand their own programmatic TV offerings. Google added programmatic TV to its DoubleClick ad buying platform in 2017, while Amazon is expected to make an aggressive push into digital advertising that will include programmatic TV ad inventory.

Programmatic TV is already “blurring the line” between what we think of as TV and digital advertising, helping to create more precise, real-time and engaging ad creative in the process. Will 2018 be the year that it finally reaches the mainstream? It’s too early to tell, but various signs from digital ad platforms, publishers, marketers and those in the ad tech sector suggest that programmatic TV will be moving full speed ahead in the year to come.