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Martin Kelly on programmatic in 2015 and where it's headed

Strategy By: Martin KellyApr 5, 2018

BradInsight interviewed our CEO and co-founder Martin Kelly on programmatic in 2015, viewability and walled gardens.


What do you think have been the big breakthroughs in ad tech in 2015?

I think programmatic is just part of the vocabulary now. It’s not a matter of advertisers asking whether they are going to use programmatic anymore - it’s mainstream. That’s probably the biggest breakthrough this year. It’s encompassing more and more. It started off as online display, and people are now seeing it for what it has become, which is more of an infrastructure. It’s taken up mobile, it’s taken up video and we’re starting to see things around radio, out of home and TV. That’s all exciting and it’s good that it’s moved beyond its origins and into the broader market. A lot of the pitches we’ve seen are predicated on programmatic – for good reasons. It’s a new capability as opposed to just a way of buying. It promises one-to-one advertising rather than just a more efficient way of advertising.

For a number of reasons brands have been at varying stages of whether they buy into programmatic or not. Part of that is down to worries about transparency; both financial and operational, and worries about fraud. But actually I think a lot of these things are starting to be addressed properly. Advertisers are being educated. A lot of us live in fear of the unknown, and I think a lot of people are getting over those fears now. For me, it’s great to see this part of the industry maturing slightly now.


You’ve been at the forefront of this industry for a while now, particularly in programmatic. What do you consider to be the watershed moments so far?

We started the business in 2008 and it was way too early. We saw very slow growth to start with. I think one of the key points -and it isn’t talked about that much - was the real-time bidding protocol. Everyone decided they were going to adopt and it created a standard that all these different pieces of technology could use to plug together. The RTB standard meant that technology became interoperable, which meant that you didn’t have this very real threat that you have in other spaces of technology becoming redundant very quickly because they can’t interact.

The nature of the display space is such that there is no real dominant player in it, so an open ecosystem has grown out of that. That was actually quite defining, because it gave the industry scale that it didn’t previously have; both between different technologies and internationally. You moved to a situation where the supply landscape became global really quickly; there weren’t any regional quirks. Everyone had a global standard that created easy trade and global scale very quickly.


How has the pitch changed over the years?

There has been interest on the advertiser side for about three years. But this year has probably been the first year we’ve seen advertisers take a really formal interest; pitching out; questioning the provider they are using; whether they want to work with a specialist business; whether they want to do it in-house. This is the first year that we’ve seen that maturity.

One of the things that advertisers have cottoned on to is that it’s easier to trade centrally (to buy in multiple countries), so we’ve seen a raft of international pitches going on from some of the bigger brands who want to work with one partner who can scale, rather than have one vendor in each country. That’s a side to programmatic that’s not talked about so much either; the scalability and the centralisation of it.


Read the complete interview here.


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