Filippo Gramigna, VP Global Sales at Widespace: 2017 has been a turbulent year for programmatic and mobile has not escaped the firing line. In the past few years we have seen mobile ad spend overtake desktop for the first time and continue to go from strength to strength, truly cementing itself as the first screen for consumers. 2018 looks to be a year that will continue to be dominated by mobile and when it comes down to programmatic, we will see developments in five clear areas.

1. Data and supply

As the year comes to a close and the introduction of GDPR is looming many mobile programmatic providers are becoming increasingly concerned about the new regulation. The big issues for 2018 will be the quality of data and connection to 3rd party data. The way this will look post-GDPR is still unclear, but it will play a vital part across the whole industry.

2. AI & Machine Learning

AI will continue to be a focus, especially with GDPR around the corner, as it gives us the ability to do more with the data we have. Sophisticated machine learning will increasingly be used to drive greater insight in the upper part of the funnel – where we look to find new customers and engage existing customers in the right way – something that 3rd party data sources have been heavily relied upon for in the past. Machine learning will also be used to make strides against fraud via transparency, for example through ads.txt which gives publishers a way to tell buyers who is authorised to sell their inventory.  

3. Quality

Whether it comes down to brand safety, viewability or ad fraud, 2017 has been dominated by the topic of quality in programmatic. With the IAB introducing the Gold Standard initiative we expect to see mobile become more involved in the standard throughout 2018 and therefore a greater focus put on the quality of mobile programmatic.

4. Video

Ericson predicted that video will make up 75 percent of mobile traffic in five years and we can expect to get closer to that figure in 2018. The year ahead will be the year that mobile video irons out the problems we have seen in 2017 and we will start to see an increase in the adoption of outstream and a decline in the use of invasive formats that offer bad user experience such as pre- and mid-roll ads. Creatively we should also see a greater focus on mobile-specific approaches, with ads as short as 6 seconds being developed.

5. Mobile Measurement

Many businesses still lack mobile specific strategies when it comes to measurement despite a recent study from Bain revealing  that people interact with their phones 13 times an hour, with 60% of the mobile ads they see being influential in their purchasing decisions. In 2018 as budget shifts further towards mobile, we should see marketers rethinking attribution models as the methods often used for calculating success in mobile are the same as desktop. For example, crediting the last device the ad is seen on ahead of a purchase does mobile a disservice as studies have shown that 79% of consumers use their smartphones to research products but just 10% of those purchases take place on mobile. If we can use attribution to better understand customer journeys and the role of mobile within that, we can use budgets more effectively as well as provide a better experience for consumers.