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How Programmatic is Changing Mobile Advertising [New Research]

Team InMobi
5 min read
Posted on August 15, 2019

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“Programmatic is the worst thing that happened to advertising and is our only hope for the future.”

We don’t know which financial services marketer said this to Digiday in 2017, but perhaps no quote so appropriately sums up how many marketers and advertisers feel about programmatic ad buying today. By using software and algorithms, instead of human conversations and manual insertion orders, programmatic advertising has upturned the status quo - whether brand advertisers are ready for this shift or not.

So, in the intervening time since this quote was said, how has programmatic media buying progressed? Are advertisers clinging to the tried and true, or is programmatic becoming truly dominant?

To find out, we took a look at data from our own exchange stretching back from the beginning of 2017. Here’s what our Mobile Programmatic Advertising Trends 2019 report found.

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Tracking Programmatic’s Progression

In short, programmatic has never been hotter. From a global perspective, we discovered the following:

  • Global mobile in-app programmatic budgets grew 141% between 2017 and 2018.
  • Programmatic is on the rise in every geography, but its growth is especially strong in North America. Between 2017 and 2018, U.S. spending rose 215%. The U.S. continues to be the largest market. China is the second largest in-app programmatic ad market. Between 2017 and 2018, programmatic ad spending in China rose 102%.
  • In Q1 2019, only 45% of all mobile programmatic ad spending went to banners in the U.S. In Q1 2019, U.S. video click-through rates were 2x greater than native CTRs and over 10x greater than CTRs for banners on average.
  • In looking at Q2 2019 compared to Q2 2018, global open exchange spending grew 58% and private marketplace spending grew 15%.

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Explaining Programmatic’s Progression

We have found four key reasons why in-app programmatic advertising is growing:

  • Greater Ease: It’s becoming easier to conduct programmatic campaigns, thanks to the proliferation and improvement of self-service platforms, along with the availability of more staff members with programmatic expertise.
  • Increased Efficiency: It has remained increasingly effective for advertisers, regardless of whether they have top-funnel, mid-funnel or bottom-funnel goals and benchmarks. For example, between 2017 and 2019, the click-through rates of in-app native ads went up more than 18%.
  • More Trustworthy: It’s become safer and more trustworthy to buy programmatically. Brands can ink private marketplace deals if desired, and new initiatives like app-ads.txt and sellers.json are all making open exchange buying far less prone to fraud. Already, 75% of our inventory now has an app-ads.txt file.
  • Improved AI: It continues to improve, as innovative technologies and applications of artificial intelligence become available within the programmatic ecosystem. For instance, advances in computer vision and predictive analytics enables brands to determine with a high degree of accuracy before anything goes live if a programmatic ad campaign is using effective creatives.

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Have We Reached Peak Programmatic?

Some naysayers may look at this data and say we’ve reached the pinnacle of programmatic buying, and that it’s all downhill from here. While predictions are always fraught, we can confidently say that we have not yet reached peak programmatic.

Throughout the rest of the year and continuing on to 2020, we expect to see even more money spent programmatically, to the point where a vast majority of mobile ad budgets will be devoted to programmatic media buying.

It’s also fair to say that trust privacy will continue to be at the forefront, especially once CCPA is law in California. Your data strategy and needs (at the campaign level) will be a determining factor for open exchange versus private marketplace/programmatic guaranteed buying. And, the further evolution of trust initiatives like app-ads.txt and sellers.json are beneficial and help to improve transparency.

Whether you like it or not, programmatic is here to stay. The industry has spoken, and has embraced - and will continue to embrace - its many benefits.

For more insights and predictions, be sure to download our Mobile Programmatic Advertising Trends 2019 report today!

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