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Programmatic: 2015 Year In Review

Title: Programmatic

Seismic tech mergers, header bidding, the emergence of viewability as a new digital currency, an explosion of new supply sources and targeting types. There’s no doubt that the pace of change across the programmatic landscape continued to pick up momentum in 2015, forcing publishers and advertisers alike to re-evaluate their businesses and find creative solutions to navigate these developments.

It’s an exciting time for our industry, and I’m thrilled to have recently had the opportunity to step into the role of Director, Industry Initiatives at the IAB overseeing its programmatic, performance and data councils. I also get to work alongside our two very accomplished Programmatic Council co-chairs – Bob Arnold of Google and Jason White of CBSi – who were focused throughout the year on helping to identify and address some of the most pressing business challenges in the programmatic community. Highlights of the Programmatic Council’s work this year include:

  • Private Marketplace Development – We’ve done a lot of work to generate clarity around private marketplace development, specifically focusing on negotiation points and implementation best practices to ensure PMPs deliver anticipated advertiser throughput and publisher ROI. This was articulated in a PMP Checklist, which is aimed to help buyers and sellers identify key issues to discuss and agree on before moving forward with a private marketplace deal. This simple tool gives the industry a solution to ensure that we all speak the same language and cover the most important deal points and buying structures at all stages in private marketplace development.
  • Mobile Programmatic Playbook – Buying mobile inventory programmatically presents unique technical hurdles and buying considerations relative to desktop environments. In March, our Mobile Programmatic Buying Working Group – a smaller sub group within the Programmatic Council under the leadership of co-chairs Robert Kramer of Rocket Fuel and Brian Murphy from Yahoo – released a comprehensive guide for digital buyers, sellers and publishers that clarifies these nuances, educates the marketplace about the current state of the mobile programmatic marketplace, and helps the industry plan the future of their advertising, monetization, or service strategies.
  • Programmatic Summit – Alongside thinkLA, the IAB coordinated and hosted the Second Annual Programmatic Summit in Los Angeles, CA. Experts throughout the digital ecosystem explained how they’re executing programmatic strategies across their organizations, with particular emphasis on programmatic creative, transparency, private marketplaces, attribution, and the evolution of supply sources. The event attracted more than 300 brand marketers, media buyers, online publishers, ad networks, ad exchanges, and other solutions providers.
  • Ongoing Education – The council had a continued focus on marketplace education around the underlying structures, processes, and participants that make up the programmatic ecosystem. We worked with the IAB’s Learning & Development team to host advanced programmatic classes around the country, generating a lot of enthusiasm and attracting over 500 participants from across the buy and sell side communities.


The council will be busy moving into 2016, and has already identified several important areas we want to address, including:

  1. Updating IAB’s Programmatic Curriculum – we will continue our work to facilitate programmatic fluency by updating and revamping our advanced programmatic curriculum to account for technology and business developments in recent years. There are also plans to add an online component and video series compliment.
  2. Establishing Greater Programmatic Fee Transparency – in early 2016, we will release an overview of the primary value layers that exist in the programmatic supply chain. By providing insight into the role and value proposition of companies ranging from pre-bid solutions to publisher ad servers, this document will help to ensure trust and liquidity in the marketplace by making sure that programmatic buyers and sellers have greater clarity about fees each side is paying in the ecosystem.
  3. Examining the Implications of Header Bidding – the adoption of header bidding has presented a slew of opportunities for both buy and sell side participants, however it has also created confusion in the marketplace around relative pros/cons and implementation best practices. The IAB plans to address this ambiguity with a publisher-oriented guide to header bidding, as well as an overview of key questions to ask when considering Header Bidding.

The upcoming year is certain to bring big developments across the programmatic landscape, and I’m excited to continue working on the front lines with the council to ensure that we have a healthy marketplace. If you’d like more information about how to get involved with on IAB’s programmatic initiatives, please reach out to me for more information ([email protected]).


Benjamin Dick

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