American Marketer


Mobile programmatic encounters slow adoption, faces several challenges: report

July 22, 2015

Mobile programmatic buying faces challenges Mobile programmatic buying faces challenges


While much has been made of the strong adoption of programmatic buying, a new report from the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PwC reveals adoption is stronger on desktop, with mobile facing a number of challenges.

Programmatic buying now captures the majority of Internet display advertising spend at 52 percent, a figure that includes mobile display ads. Mobile programmatic adoption is behind desktop due to tracking challenges, although mobile social programmatic buying is a strong point.

“In 2014 mobile was lagging desktop in programmatic adoption which is not necessarily surprising given that mobile while mobile is growing rapidly it is still a young segment and there are a few hurdles within mobile that created limitations on greater programmatic use, most prominently challenges in tracking and targeting across device,” said David Silverman, partner at PwC US. “With that said, the vast and fast growing inventory of mobile ad space make it a ripe area for significant programmatic growth in the future.

The social exception

Overall, programmatic revenues totaled $10.1 billion in 2014, accounting for approximately 20 percent of total Internet advertising revenues, according to the report.

While some industry estimates have suggested there is a high degree of programmatic buying in mobile, the IAB report did not find this to be the case.

While mobile programmatic adoption is growing, the rate is behind that of desktop.

One of the challenges facing mobile programmatic is the ability to effectively track and target audiences across devices.

Since social platform have access to their users’ logged-in data, they are able to more accurately target across devices by leveraging this data. As a result, social is an exception, displaying a much higher adoption rate for mobile programmatic compared to non-social categories.

Data disconnect

Another challenges mobile programmatic faces is the data disconnect across the mobile Web, applications and desktop.

For example, behavioral data that is available in apps may not be available outside of those apps.

This means that mobile programmatic buying strategies may not always translate seamlessly outside of mobile or even between apps and the mobile Web.

The IAB expects to see mobile programmatic grow as cross-device targeting and the data gaps are addressed.

Solutions that seeks to bridge audiences across devices also have the potential to unlock the disparate data. By bringing this information together, marketers can create a stronger audience profile. This, in turn, will enhance their ability to programmatically target relevant ads based on user behavior and location regardless of device.

The report also points to a number of mergers and acquisitions by some of the largest ad sellers and platforms that were driven by the desire to enhance mobile capabilities and underscore the belief that mobile programmatic is a growing force and critical to future growth.

“Given the significant importance of programmatic within the industry and the expected continued growth, both marketers and publishers need to be focused on inclusion of a programmatic strategy,” said Sherrill Mane, senior vice president of research, analytics and measurement at IAB. “As marketers rapidly evolve mobile-first strategies for reaching the right consumers, they will see the need for efficiencies and scale that programmatic offers.

“First, though, greater understanding and transparency will be required, particularly given the technology differences between desktop and mobile,” she said.

Final Take

Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Marketer, New York