What will programmatic look like in 2027?

2017 saw the tenth anniversary of programmatic advertising. From its humble beginnings, over half of all non-search digital ad spend is now made using the technology. The days of slow deals, subject to human errors and inefficiencies, are increasingly behind us.

But adtech’s story is far from over.

The next ten years will see new technologies that will fundamentally change the way advertising is experienced in our day-to-day lives, whether as media buyers or as consumers. It is our responsibility as technology providers to capitalise on these changes as best as possible, delivering what is becoming a genuinely helpful service by connecting consumers to the purchases they want to make.

By 2027, programmatic will become ubiquitous in the marketing sector. It will no longer be a line item on a media plan, but will be taken as a given by media buyers. Programmatic will extend its depth, moving into more channels such as DOOH, TV, Radio, and VR. It will also extend its breadth to more consumers, yielding more data across more localities to properly optimise successful campaigns.

Ditching siloed channels

Understanding the omnichannel user experience is already a must for any effective programmatic marketer. The way an ad is engaged with by a consumer, between, say, their desktop and mobile, is crucial for advertisers to understand to best optimise their campaigns. The ‘single view of the consumer’ across multiple devices currently spoken of will be a well-established state of affairs, with marketers having an accurate view of cross-device behaviour.

The way consumers engage with multiple channels will change too. A search for a product or service on their smartphone will instantaneously update the ads recommended to them when on their laptop or tablet. What’s more is that consumers will quickly raise their own expectations in light of these developments, demanding convenient, real-time offers and messages, and scrutinising ads which are irrelevant and unnecessary. The consumer will even start to see advertising as a core component of shopping, with smart refrigerators reminding them of the need to buy milk through an ad, having detected that they don’t have any.

By 2027, omnichannel marketing will have reached new heights as we increasingly inhabit a computerised world. Developments in VR are but one example of the direction of travel, not to mention the growing market in tech-enabled wearables.

The adoption of programmatic trading by out-of-home platforms such as billboards are another sign of things to come. This computerised environment will be all the more reason for marketers to ditch increasingly outmoded siloed channel strategies, with specific channel budgets giving way to unified ones.

Just 6% of television ads will be traded programmatically in 2018, according to eMarketer.

But even that stalwart of traditional media buying will itself look radically different in 2027. As video-on-demand and streaming services blur the lines between TV and online video, traditional broadcasters will adopt the media buying techniques of their peers in the video universe.

Most TV ads, by 2027, will therefore be executed programmatically.


Current trends towards transparency in the media buying process will continue to accelerate. Marketers will exercise their right to know where exactly their spending is going, asking for guarantees that their content is running on quality sites alongside brand-safe content. Marketers will take a fully audience-first approach to media buying, matching high-value audiences to the best media in brand-safe contexts. Cast-iron guarantees that ads won’t run on brand-unsafe sites will become the norm, with the legitimacy of sites verified by the likes of Ads.txt.

The media agency will take on a new, more strategic role in this changing ecosystem, partly as a results of machine learning, which will automate several existing tasks.

Brand CMOs will increasingly look to their agencies to share the best approaches to media buying, data management and measurement – seeking their advice, for example, on how to best utilise their tech stacks, or in developing new joint products.

As the world of technology, data, and devices expands, the agency is set to take a consultative approach, delivering holistic strategy and bringing the latest innovations and approaches in marketing to their clients for consideration. Agencies will need to be on top of neatly summarising the story in a complex trove of data, which can be easily relayed back to the relevant CMO and to the board of a given client.

2027 is, of course, still a long time away, and making predictions of this nature are never a precise science. However, by looking at the fundamentals of where the industry is going, and where we’ve come from in such a short space of time, we can have an idea of where marketing is headed. It’s the job of any serious marketer to take these trends seriously and make the best use of them for their customers.

– by Emma Williams

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