Thought Leadership

2020 Programmatic Trends for Publishers – Part 2

February 26, 2020
By Rubicon Project

Did you miss Part 1?  Read it here!

In part 2 of our discussion of 2020 programmatic trends for publishers, we continue the conversation 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 trends in SPO, Deals, Insights, and Video and Audio for programmatic publishers. 


How will Publishers react to SPO in 2020?

Heather Carver:
SPO will lead to continued consolidation and more strategic partnerships between top publishers and top buyers. Fewer relationships equals better focus.

We will likely see a continuation in 2020 of buyers, brands, agencies, and DSPs looking at the number of partners they have and deciding to work with fewer. As it relates to the supply side, the idea of DPO (demand path optimization) – where publishers are looking at the number of demand partners they work with and paring them down – will also continue. 

There will be a lot of conversations with publishers who want to educate buyers about why they should not be SPOd out. Indirect suppliers will need to defend their value proposition and explain how they are adding value. But if you are a publisher who focuses on premium content, SPO will be a good thing.

How will SPO benefit publishers?

Heather Carver:
SPO has helped publishers gain a better understanding of what’s happening with their inventory, and helped them take back control of their yield. If they’re working with many partners, they may not understand how their inventory is showing up to buyers. SPO has helped them realize how different pieces of inventory are being sold.

This has led to increased control of the narrative for premium publishers. They have a better understanding of which partners are important, and which aren’t bringing as much value.  


How will Deals evolve in 2020?

Ryan Mulcahy:
PG really hit its stride in 2019 and will continue to accelerate this year. Growth in CTV, Audio, and DOOH will add fuel to the fire.

PMPs continue evolving. Just a few years ago, always-on deals were prevalent – but that’s changing. Now other deal types are emerging, and solutions like Auction Packages help buyers curate inventory in the open market.  Today, PMPs need to offer buyers something they can’t get in the open market.  

Mike Chevallier:
I’ve talked to many people who are bullish on where PG will sit as overall percentage of revenue. I think there’s a huge growth opportunity there, as agencies are moving traditional I/O dollars to programmatic. CTV and out of home are transacted through PG, and that is also growing. The enhancements that we’re looking to do to bring this into the wrapper will make PG less complex and manual. Maybe not 2020 — but 2021 will be the year PG becomes a significant portion of programmatic revenue. 

Heather Carver:
Deals will continue to grow in importance in 2020. A lot of this will be due to regulation. Buyers will likely flock to PMPs if they can’t access 3rd party data. 

There is also still a lot of ad spend going through traditional Insertion Order (IO) buys, but I think we’ll see more automation as PG becomes more mature, and direct IOs can be streamlined programmatically. As Prebid continues to build out PG features and functionality, it’ll be easier for PG deals to flow through RTB.


How will collaboration shape data sharing in the era of CCPA and GDPR?

Ryan Mulcahy:
We need to continue to collaborate on standards that work for users, publishers, and marketers – the space is making steady progress in these areas. 

How important will real-time analytics be to Publishers?

Ryan Mulcahy:
Fast and reliable data has always been paramount to a publishers business – its importance has only grown in the last few years.


What video & audio trends do you expect to see in 2020?

Ryan Mulcahy:
Both video and audio will continue to grow. CTV has a chance to explode in the second half of the year. Lots of long tail apps and OTT companies are not monetizing yet, and we’ll see thems start to do much better. It will be interesting in 2020 to see how quickly OTT content creators embrace the model. New devices like voice assistants will also emerge. Voice devices might not see a lot of ads in 2020, but it will happen.

Mike Chevallier:
In video, the big trend is the growth of CTV and OTT. Cord cutting has exceeded even the most optimistic expectations over the last couple of years, and we’re seeing a ton of audience moving from linear to non-linear. 

For audio, there’s been a huge increase in podcast consumption, both from a streaming and download perspective. If you look at where the M&A has occurred in the audio space, it’s happening in podcasts. 

If you look at where consumption is going, where people are spending their time, they’re not spending it watching cable. They’re watching either Roku or one of the freemium services like Hulu, or the free, ad-supported ones like Pluto or Tubi. That’s where the scale is, and that’s where the opportunity is in 2020. Same with Audio. Podcasting has gone from being next to nothing three years ago to being a significant source of content for consumers. 

As a result of people cutting the cord, and the society we live in, people are spending more time out of home as well. That also presents a unique opportunity as the proliferation of digital screens replaces traditional vinyl. 

All three of these are different, but they represent an opportunity to engage with the consumer in ways that are different from the traditional banner ad. 

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Read Part 1 of our 2020 Programmatic Trends for Publishers series.