7 Key programmatic advertising trends for 2016 bannerflow

Marketing | 05 min read

7 Key programmatic advertising trends for 2016

Programmatic advertising hit the mainstream in 2015, offering marketers a whole new way of reaching their audiences more effectively online. In 2016, programmatic advertising will continue to grow, develop and continue to be central to digital marketing. With this in mind, we’ve taken a look at some of the emerging trends and patterns to see what digital marketers and advertisers can expect from programmatic advertising in 2016.

1. Programmatic spending will be huge

Spend on digital advertising has increased year on year. In  2016, we will see the programmatic spending increase even further. Emarketer predicts that the UK programmatic ad spending alone will exceed £2 billion, a 37% increase in spending compared to 2015. Programmatic spend in the UK in 2016 will account for more than 50% of the total display advertising spend. The growth of programmatic mobile advertising has been particularly notable, with eMarketer predicting that around 75% of all mobile inventory to be bought programmatically in 2016.  The UK is now considered to be the most advanced market when it comes to programmatic buying, and surely it will not be long before other markets follow this pattern too.

A rise in spending will also mean an increase in the competition. Programmatic providers will have to provide a better experience for both publishers and advertisers and overcome many of the challenges that were central to the programmatic advertising conversation in 2015. One of the fundamental arguments is that programmatic advertising is complicated and, therefore, making programmatic advertising less complicated for advertisers may be key in help marketers increase programmatic spend further. However, with a continually expanding ad tech space which includes advanced programmatic techniques, this won’t be easy.

2. Increased creativity will lead to new inventory

In 2015, we saw somewhat of a display advertising renaissance, with programmatic advertising being one of the catalysts for this. Programmatic advertising has sparked creativity when it comes to advertising inventory, and today there is more variety than ever when it comes to online ad space. This year there will be more creative inventory available for publishers in a bid to create more viewable and engaging display ads. Increased creativity will not only be on the buying side of things but on the production side too. As more and more formats are made available to advertisers, advertisers will want it to be easier to create banner ad campaigns. Since Flash is no longer to go-to option for display advertisers and designers to build banner ads, in 2016 we will see those who create display ads need a platform to create campaigns in HTML5. However, this platform needs to be more that Flash translated to HTML5; advertisers need something that works well with programmatic buying; giving them the opportunity to scale-up campaigns quickly and build new formats with ease. With more creativity on the cards, we’ll also see more talk about the programmatic creative.

Therefore, advertisers will be looking for innovative programs that look at display advertising in a whole new light, with a more interactive web in mind. Advertisers are moving away from static banner campaigns, and moving increasingly towards video and rich media banner ads – banner ads that perform better. While programmatic buying provides the opportunity to get creative with advertising inventory, display advertising production needs to catch up for programmatic buying to truly be a success.

3. Header bidding will become more accessible

Header bidding is one of the most advanced and technically sophisticated examples of programmatic advertising that started to get popular amongst publishers in 2015. Header bidding still faces a lot of challenges, mostly concerning usability. But, 2016 may be the year to overcome these as advertisers, as well as publishers realise the benefits of this technology.

4. 100% viewable ad impressions for sale

Ad viewability has been central to a lot of the programmatic discussion, as well as in the general debate surrounding the effectiveness of online display advertising. Last year there was a lot of debate about ad viewability, including the release of a critical report by IAB. One the key point was that advertisers when buying programmatically, had no idea if their ad impressions had been viewed by human eyes.

In 2015, 100% viewable ads became something of the holy grail of advertising inventory, with advertisers wanting more industry standards put in place. Google is already taking the lead in this area, by offering these types of impressions. This seems like a natural development for programmatic, not only will it mean that advertisers will be able to trust their programmatic platform more, but publishers will be able to treat this ad space as premium inventory. In an ideal world, we would see programmatic ad impressions with 100% viewability become the norm, but it may become a luxury product instead.

5. Programmatic everywhere, in every channel

Cross-channel advertising campaigns have always been difficult to execute due the sporadic nature of advertising channels. In 2015, we saw the rise of programmatic not only on the desktop but also on mobile and TV.  Advertisers found that cross-channel programmatic campaigns could be successful in 2015, and in 2016 they are planning to increase their budgets for this area.

6. Move towards ROI, away from awareness

Advertisers have used display advertising quite frequently for awareness campaigns, besides, from click-through rates have not been able to understand the impact of their display advertising campaigns. Due to advancements in marketing technology, marketers are focusing their efforts of the ROI generated. Marketers are moving the focus of their display advertising campaigns away from awareness and towards ROI. Advertisers say that one of the primary benefits of programmatic is an increased ROI. With ROI reporting in display advertising, programmatic advertising becomes incredibly important as it allows advertisers to increase their ROI through more effectively targeting their different audience segments. Which is not only good news for advertisers, but provides a better experience for the consumer.

7. Moment Marketing

Moment marketing will be one of the marketing trends that will shape 2016. Think of moment marketing is less planning and more marketing for the moment online, triggered by offline events. Understandably, moment marketing is popular in social media channels. For display advertisers, however, this has never been a reality for two reasons: firstly, creating banner ads has always been a long and arduous process and totally inflexible, before programmatic advertising it was impossible for marketers to market in the moment because they were forced to buy their advertising inventory in advanced and, therefore, couldn’t change their banner ads or react to offline events once their campaign was published. However, programmatic advertising allows advertisers to buy ad inventory on an impression by impression basis, meaning that they can push their campaigns to the right people, at the right moment.


The area of programmatic advertising is continually expanding and becoming increasingly complicated technologically, and for users. In 2016, we’ll more trends emerge, many of these focusing on making the programmatic experience better for marketers and their audiences. However, for marketers and advertisers it is important not to get overwhelmed, but instead, focus on your overall goals and then looking to see how technology can help you to reach them, rather than letting technology dictate the way you work.

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