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Lisa Kalyuzhny 

The future of programmatic media buying

The future of programmatic media buying

Partner content

PubMatic's Lisa Kalyuzhny looks at how Covid-19 has shaped the future of programmatic advertising

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on consumers’ daily lives and how businesses operate and care for their employees. The time consumers are spending online, gaming, and watching TV has increased more than some may have ever imagined.

This has had a knock-on impact on programmatic advertising, which will shape the way we work going forward.

Owning the path to conversion

The increase in ecommerce has pushed ownership of the path to conversion squarely into the hands of brands as they are increasingly sitting on more data . The insights that have been gleaned this year have provided brands with a deeper understanding of their audiences and customers and these insights can be used to create a data-driven strategy to navigate the return to ‘normal’, whatever that may look like.

As brands get closer to owning the path to conversion it seems likely we will see an increased focus on supply- and demand-path optimisation and simplification. Programmatic is a complex part of the online advertising industry and reducing the number of links in the transaction process increases value.

Furthermore, with fewer partners and ownership of the path to conversion it is easier to traverse future changes in consumer behaviour as buyers and sellers have more transparency and better cross-channel measurement and thus are able to make better more effective and strategic decisions.

Channel hopping

The social restrictions imposed on consumers for the majority of 2020 caused an obvious decrease in out of home (OOH) ad spend, much of which has been diverted to digital in one form or another. There has been an uptick in existing verticals like mobile app and buyer interest in mobile best practices.

Additionally, many brands are experimenting with gaming and connected TV (CTV) for the first time in a quest to reach new and existing audiences. This rapid uptake triggered a rush of innovation and competition with new gaming and CTV content providers entering the market.

As the Covid-19 pandemic recedes we will see that some content consumption and entertainment habits prevail and others slip away. For brands this is an opportunity to use the insights they gathered during the rise of digital consumption and apply those insights to the reverse trend adapting media plans in near real-time to shifts in consumer behaviour.

For publishers, this time will be vital as a likely goal will be to retain as much of their new audiences as possible. An investment in content and tailored, personalised advertising solutions that deliver value to consumers as they start to become more picky about where they spend their reduced digital time will be important.

How are you?

2020 has been a year of extreme sensitivity and appreciation for peoples’ feelings both in the workplace and in advertising. The stresses and strains of uncertainty and change have caused people to revisit how they support colleagues and manage for wellbeing, not just job success. As a non-essential industry and one which can operate virtually, we have all spent an unprecedented amount of time working from home.

It is well documented that a lack of human contact damages mental health and that a sedentary lifestyle is harmful to physical health. With everyone from board-level to interns feeling the strain there has been a natural gravitation towards not just talking to colleagues about work but also general wellbeing and checking in to see how people are coping.

This is a huge, positive leap forward for a hardworking industry. The benefits that this approach has bought - increased feelings of worth and involvement - are significant and as a result will continue to be a part of day to day business as we return to normal.

We have also seen vendor/supplier relationships change from very functional, and sometimes one-sided, to collaborative, respectful ones. Previously, vendors’ delivery timeframes were more often than not driven by non-flexible mandates from partners.

We have moved to an era of being sensitive to everyone’s challenges and stresses and moved away from operating in a bubble and expecting others to meet our needs. Ultimately, this provides huge benefits for everyone as mutually respectful, flexible relationships deliver better results.

Where to invest your energy in 2021

We have all learned so much this year, both on a personal level and from a technology perspective. The Covid-19 pandemic has caused an evaluation of where our energy is best invested.

The pandemic will continue to impact how we shape the programmatic industry in 2021 and beyond. There will be an even bigger focus on early identification of trends and reacting to them. Reactions will be faster because there will be more direct, collaborative relationships and less tension between partners.

It’s feasible that CTV will continue to be popular with consumers and advertisers alike, which will result in changes to team structures as we create best practices for buying CTV in combination with linear and digital video.

Much is still unknown - will Netflix introduce an ad-funded model? Will brands continue to in-house media amidst rapid change? Will the agency model change to take advantage of buying power once more?

What we do know is that 2021 will be a year in which we focus on what we can do that is unique, important, and impactful for both ourselves and the wider world.


Lisa Kalyuzhny is senior director, advertiser solutions, EMEA at PubMatic

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AlexBerry, Interim Head of Product, Limited Company Contractor on 27 Jan 2021
“A good read Lisa, thanks for sharing. Would be keen to get your thoughts on your last two questions.”