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Programmatic media buying is expanding rapidly and is predicted to account for almost half (47%) of UK digital display ads this year.

Programmatic technology – which automates the buying and selling of media using processes such as real-time bidding – has numerous benefits for marketers including scale and efficiency. With a manual media-buying model, one full-time employee can make around 720 weekly decisions, whereas a programmatic model can make 840 billion. Programmatic provides marketers with a wealth of data from every level of the sales funnel, and can be used to inform more intelligent marketing and to optimise real-time campaign performance. The technology allows brands to adopt a truly omnichannel approach, delivering relevant, targeted advertising across all addressable media from a single platform.

So what does 2015 have in store for this valuable media buying method?

Big brands will lead the way in programmatic

An association with low quality inventory and a loss of control initially held back the uptake of programmatic for big brands. However, the evolution of private marketplaces with premium inventory, tighter quality controls to ensure brand safety, and increased education on the benefits of programmatic, all mean that global businesses are ready to embrace the technology. While the open exchange model will still account for the majority of programmatic spend, alternative models – such as programmatic direct – will give brands more control over the automation of their ad campaigns.

Programmatic will encompass new ad formats

Traditionally programmatic focussed on display advertising, but it is now possible to execute other formats such as rich-media, video, and native, programmatically. Programmatic is no longer just about bottom-of-the-funnel retargeting tactics, but is being used at every level of the funnel. Even IAB’s Rising Star ad units, which are usually used for top of the funnel branding campaigns, can now be traded programmatically. Applying programmatic to these more complex ad formats allows marketers to take a single platform approach to media buying.

Programmatic will run across screens

Over half (57%) of advertisers are already buying mobile ads programmatically, and Emarketer estimates that by 2015 mobile will take share from desktop digital display. As mobile tracking technology improves, brands are more willing to invest in multiscreen programmatic and are starting to understand that programmatic will be the best way to keep pace with consumers as they adopt new devices and technologies associated with the Internet of Things.

Programmatic is the future of digital advertising and it is developing in both scale and sophistication. 2015 will see more big brands adopt programmatic – driven by innovative new business models – as well as an expansion of programmatic across a wider range of ad formats and screens.