8 Programmatic and Adtech trends for 2020

As per 2019 report by inMobi on state of programmatic buying in India, 25% of total digital ad spends were programmatic . 90% of the brands wish to run programmatic in house. Technical expertise is one major concern for this to happen.


How these stats transform in post covid scenario is yet to be seen. In an earlier post we looked at advertising predictions for rest of 2020. Here we have summarised the possible trends or topics that will make headlines for ad-tech in 2020, after ad spends revive.

1. Dynamic creative Personalisation

Dynamic creative personalisation or customisation is going to gain traction. Globally, Gen-Z makes the largest online user base who are more adept and tech savvy. They also the creators and the consumers. with limited attention spans , advertisers have been trying to create the campaigns that work for this audience .

However, still a large majority of the campaigns use same messaging and creative for their campaigns. This approach is going to prove less effective in time to come due to over exposure to digital and messaging while people are staying at home and consuming content on multiple screens.

Personalization and Hyper-localisation of brand messaging will be taken up as effective strategy to turn on the charm of advertising. With layers and layers of data being collected through mobile phones, smart devices and IOT, Cash less payments etc, it is now possible to identify the interest and behaviours of a target group with greater accuracy . This data grouped with dynamic creative selection can be used to deliver an highly effective campaign. For example

Adgreetz used 40,000+ creatives for single campaign to customise the messaging to TG , delivering 2.7X growth in revenues.

2. Audio Ads and voice triggered devices

In last few weeks, Most of us have spent considerable time at home during lockdowns. The moment one steps out for supplies and essentials , one steps hyper aware to avoid coming in contact with infected surfaces , elevator buttons , doors at public places

Until and unless, anti-covid vaccines become as regular as polio, world is never going to be the same . And seems like we are a long way from that. Social distancing will reign supreme for 6-8 months till world gradually starts forgetting the horror.

This,however, is a godsend opportunity for companies in business of audio ads and voice activated interfaces. A recent report by nationalpublicmedia, the smart speaker interactions have gone up substantially in last few weeks since lockdown. Amazon has already sold more than 100 Million Alexa Devices.

Now that consumers have discovered the various use cases and utilities of such devices, beyond mere entertainment, demand for such interfaces will only grow fuelled by mounting expectations . This will drive the industry into mainstream , which was in fringes as compared to other media consumption platforms . It will not be surprising that many newer versions of existing products will come with voice enabled capabilities.

This gives unique opportunity to enrich the audio ads ecosystem and latch on innovations happening to integrate audio ads across media and devices . Consider this;

You: Refrigerator, please turn on quick freeze mode.

Refrigerator: Sure Jane , Done! Amazon is offering 30% discount on ice trays.

3. While labelled adtech solutions and in-house programmatic

With RTB-based tools , it became possible for buyers and sellers to interact in real-time. The whole transaction from the moment a web link was clicked to an ad being served is now completed in milliseconds.

However, the transaction involves multiple hops and intermediaries. Reports, on a large chunk of advertisers money being consumed by these intermediaries and tech companies, started emerging. This led to Reinforcing the doubts about transparency in adtech and programmatic ecosystem . More details on the topic here . Shifting views and growing awareness led many publishers and media agencies to explore ways to bring programmatic media buying and selling in-house. There are many such examples like ozone project, spotify, Washington post , groupm that made efforts to take more control of their buying and selling .

By some estimates, by 2019 approximately 50% of companies had moved some portion Of programmatic trade in-house and intend to keep it that way.

Spotify brought their programmatic in-house and launched a self serve platform for streaming ads on their non premium offering . The Spotify’s programmatic stack now generates 20% of revenue. Recently company , which is arguably the number one podcast destination , announced yet another innovation ‘Streaming Ad Insertion” as described in company’s blog.

One of the biggest challenges, in moving programmatic in-house, for publishers especially has been complexity and cost of setting up a tech shop. As a result, companies offering solutions or while label products that simplifies this challenge will be much in demand. There are many products in the market that offer programmatic tech as a service . There are offerings like bidder as a service , ad exchange as a service and more. Many of these offer white label solutions with plug and play interfaces.

One of the most premium offerings are by Beeswax that provides BaaS , bidder as a service . There are many pricing models. Beeswax also has DSP arm. A publisher gets all under one roof. Tech, support, integration with SSP, demand and cutting edge performance. These are relatively newer concepts for publishers and there is a cost involved . However, the costs will be much lower than maintaining the tech and resources in-house. Most importantly , if you are a premium publisher with large supply base, the costs should get reviewed in short term .

4. Supply path optimisation and Supply Chain Object

We covered this topic in a recent post here

SPO is really a simple concept, similar to channel management and avoiding channel conflict. It signifies how efficiently your wares reach the Buyers. For a publisher, it translates to : For a certain kind of ad requests only the best SSP should be contracted….Your goal should be to identify best suited demand partner for each type of request like Mobile + banner , Desktop + Preroll, App + native combinations .

5. Connected TV and Smart TV monetisation

6. Digital OOH and Location Intelligence

We covered this trend in details in an earlier post .

DOOH and audience location intelligence is the unique combination that provides a conduit to funnel real world signal into digital adtech

7. Apple Ad Network

Anything Apple does never goes unnoticed . Gradually Apple has been growing their non hardware revenue .


While Apples hardware revenue is showing a negative growth, services revenue has grown 15%. Apple’s advertising arm is a subset of services portfolio. Ads business is not new for Apple. We all have seen Apple search adds in the AppStore .

In April, Apple added 2 variables in the Apple search ads (ASA) API namely adchanneltype and supplysource. Companies keep adding features to their products and there is nothing unusual about these 2 fields. However, if Apple has been running search campaigns on their on App Store, what is the need for calling out additional supply sources . To most , this means that Apple is gearing up to deliver ads or monetise “supply source” outside of App Store environment.

Why is this significant?

  • Apples services contribute more than 20% of their gross revenues . The cost of sales however are 34% for services where as 68% for for products. Clearly, services have higher profit margins.
  • Apple controls the iOS , MacOS and iPadOS ecosystem with an iron fist. This is the reason that Apple products have , arguably, superior hardware to software coupling rending the devices more robust. Android ecosystem is much fragmented in this regards . Tighter controls allow Apple to enable or disable permissions for the apps across the devices with the flip of a switch ( much harder in literal terms) . Apple can disable access to IDFA anytime. ASA will reign supreme .
  • Apple will have to take control and strengthen its revenue capability since the services have massive potential. Apple Arcade, Podcast, iTunes, Safari – All are cash opportunities that Apple has developed but not yet leveraged .
  • Closed ecosystem also enables Apple to deliver ROI . It’s own ad server, disciplined app market place , clear click to conversion metrics .

Speculation about Apples as network have been around for sometime. With changing consumer sentiment in recent times, slow pace of handset evolution, declining hardware revenues , 2020 seems to be the breakout year for ASA.

8. AI and Machine Learning Adoption

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