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Programmatic Making Its Way in the UK

The future's rosy for programmatic in the UK

There are many trending terms and hot topics in the digital marketing space. The subject of programmatic ad buying is particularly prevalent in the UK—and with good reason. According to research conducted by MTM London for the Internet Advertising Bureau UK in June 2014, of the £1.86 billion ($2.91 billion) spent on display ads across the internet and mobile in 2013, 28%—or about £500 million ($781.25 million)—was traded programmatically.

Of course, this is a relatively immature and fragmented market in the UK, and one with a still-developing definitional framework, so these survey results should be seen as indicative. However, further industry insight seems to solidify the idea that programmatic is not only here to stay, but that it’s only going to get bigger and more influential.

Speaking with eMarketer last month, Phil Guest, vice president of international for The Exchange Lab, gave an indication of the rate of development of the market in the UK. According to Guest, “the adoption of programmatic in the UK is far greater than it is in any other market outside of the US.”

Gareth Holmes, commercial director of EMEA for PubMatic, gave some insight into why programmatic was becoming a staple of the digital advertising industry, stating that it “enables publishers and brands to maximize their digital assets, whether they are displaying or buying online, mobile or video ads. In an increasingly digital world, that ability is vital to advertising strategies and revenue generation.”

While Guest was careful to manage expectations, indicating that there was still a long way to go, he was confident that things were picking up pace. “I’d say that 2014 is a seminal year for the industry as people wake up to see the potential on the publishing side and the advertising side,” he said, adding that “at the end of the day, the mechanism by which advertising has been delivered is fundamentally changing. Advertisers need to pay attention to that shift and understand what the new marketplace looks like, because it’s going to have a direct impact on the business.”

Despite this pragmatic outlook, Guest’s overall take was that “the future is pretty rosy for programmatic.” The numbers seem to bear that out.

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