Thought Leadership

2020 Programmatic Trends for Publishers – Part 1

February 19, 2020
By Rubicon Project

We talked with Ryan Mulcahy, Head of Revenue, North America, Heather Carver, Senior Vice President, Account Management, and Mike Chevallier, VP, North America Sales, about their predictions for 2020. Here’s what they had to say about 2020 trends for programmatic publishers. 

LOOK FORWARD TO CONSOLIDATION AND INNOVATION

What will be the biggest publisher trends in 2020?

Heather Carver:
I think the industry will see continued consolidation and more innovation across open source, independent publishers, and ad tech companies. We’ll likely see a narrowing consensus on identity solutions, as well as increased data regulation and consumer privacy technological developments. Things like Apple ITP and CCPA will lead to a rebirth of contextual buying. I also anticipate the growth of programmatic guaranteed, as direct IOs begin shifting to programmatic.

Ryan Mulcahy:
Video, CTV, Audio, and DOOH will continue to provide buyers new forms of targeted engagement – and PG will grow in step. Prebid will extend its march, with mobile and video becoming more addressable. Market consolidation will drive supply path optimization (SPO).

DEMAND MANAGER ADOPTION GROWS

How was Demand Manager received by publishers in 2019?

Ryan Mulcahy:
The reception has been terrific. Our product team has done a great job making sure Demand Manager is best in class, and our client services team has made sure it is a powerful tool for publishers.

Heather Carver:
Prebid has come a long way over the last several years, but it still takes time and internal resources to manage. Many publishers chose proprietary solutions because they didn’t have a partner for Prebid configuration and management. 

Demand Manager allows publishers to truly embrace open source technology, and take back control of their monetization strategy, with transparency at its core. The response has been phenomenal.

Mike Chevallier:
Our depth of expertise is integral to Demand Manager. If you look at the average tenure of our account management and sales team, it’s unmatched in adtech. It’s not just faceless technology. We’re selling people plus technology, and that’s powerful. 

How will Demand Manager evolve in 2020?

Heather Carver:
Now that more publishers are using Demand Manager, we’ve been able to incorporate a lot more feedback, helping us evolve and improve the product. Demand Manager will become even more useful to publishers throughout 2020, with Programmatic Guaranteed likely becoming part of it.  

Ryan Mulcahy:
As mobile and video become more available, we’ll see publishers using Demand Manager for  things beyond desktop and mobile web.

Heather Carver:
I also think there will be a move towards greater adoption of server-to-server. These nascent Prebid technologies will appeal to publishers who may have control of client side integrations, but still want a partner to help with Prebid Server or Prebid SDK. 

PREBID BRINGS THE INDUSTRY TOGETHER

Will Prebid get broader adoption in 2020?

Ryan Mulcahy:
Yes today’s publishers believe open source is the right vehicle to compete with the walled gardens.  Trust, ease, and efficacy are all there

Mike Chevallier:
Prebid has become the standard operating system for Header Bidding. The publisher community would love to reduce their reliance on walled gardens, and I think Prebid is our best shot. Someday, we really could see a world where Prebid is the standard for managing demand. Publishers will use the ad server for direct campaign management, and Prebid is how they will optimize across all programmatic channels. 

Heather Carver:
More and more publishers have joined the publisher tier in Prebid.org, partners like NewsCorp, CafeMedia, Publishers Clearinghouse, Chegg, Mediavine, Hive Media Group, SHE Media and Business Insider. Buyers like The Trade Desk and MediaMath have also joined.  With the support of these partners and the increase in collaboration, we will likely see many more publishers and buyers becoming part of Prebid in 2020, as Prebid builds more support for PG. Innovation will happen more quickly and will be able to rival the tech resources of the walled gardens.

How do you think Prebid will impact emerging formats?

Heather Carver:
Historically, video has been dominated by the waterfall. But if you look back 4-5 years, display was in the same place.  Prebid Video is still new, but as more and more publishers adopt it, we’ll see a democratization of demand and better yield. Prebid video will mature, adoption will grow, and the technology will evolve, as it did for display.

Mike Chevallier:
When you look at the proliferation of specialist demand sources across Video, Audio, and Out of Home, it’s kind of like what was happening in the display world four or five years ago that led to the rise of header bidding. It’s a way to yield optimize across multiple demand sources in real time for those emerging media. 

I think in the future Prebid could become the operating system for premium video, for audio, for DOOH. All of those are suffering from the same sort of demand fragmentation, and the need to juggle multiple demand partners, and mediation is just not efficient. Mobile app is still mostly mediated, and it’s also not efficient. Even video, to a degree, uses the waterfall; it’s not really a real-time, unified auction. It makes sense for all these media owners to optimize in real time.

What is your hope for Prebid in 2020?

Heather Carver:
I hope more publishers, buyers, agencies, and others join Prebid.org to collaborate on standards for how header bidding should operate. With more participants, Prebid will have more resources, and be able to innovate even faster, which will be better for everyone.  

With almost 500 engineers contributing and developing technology for things like video and PG, independent ad tech will continue to grow stronger and level the playing field with the walled gardens.

IDENTITY INSPIRES COLLABORATIVE SOLUTIONS

How are publishers thinking about identity in 2020?

Ryan Mulcahy:
Well, let’s just say it’s really important to them. If it’s done elegantly and effectively, it will give the independent web a better chance to compete with walled gardens.

Heather Carver:
Publishers are thinking about how they can harness the power of their own users and first party data to provide value. A lot of publishers are rethinking the traditional DMP, and are looking at new solutions, focusing on things like contextual, and what kind of content they should create. 

When it comes to identity and Demand Path Optimization, publishers are evaluating which SSPs offer people-based marketing technologies.

How are publishers collaborating with buyers on identity solutions?

Heather Carver:
In 2020, collaboration between buyers, publishers, and exchanges will be more important than ever. Publishers can help buyers navigate GDPR and CCPA by bringing them first-party data, and educating them on what they should be buying to reach their desired outcome. 

What do you think is the most practical ID solution for publishers?

Mike Chevallier:
In 2020, I think we’re going to see more momentum thrown behind a smaller subset of Universal IDs, from the agencies or holdcos, and we’ll support those in Prebid. 

Heather Carver:
A neutral, independent solution that is not owned by any single vendor would be ideal. There have been issues in the past with the adoption of proprietary solutions, and a lot of it stems from the fact that they aren’t truly neutral. It would be great to have an independent, non-profit entity leading the way.

How do you think Prebid will impact identity?

Heather Carver:
Because it’s open source, Prebid will be a driver in the evolution of new identity solutions. For example, we can point to things like LiveRamp, DigiTrust, LiveIntent, Trade Desk, and other identity players who have built Prebid adapters and modules. As more and more publishers and demand partners join Prebid, there will be a lot more people collaborating around scaled identity solutions.  

To learn more about Programmatic Trends, reach out to us at contact@rubiconproject.com.

Read Part 2 of our Programmatic Trends for Publishers series.


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