Insights Survey: How Programmatic is Shaping the Industry

Harvey Kent SVP, Global Agency Business

Inspired by the 2018 IAB ALM, in which the key takeaway for publishers, brands and technology partners need to focus on trust and transparency for quality storytelling, we queried key decision-makers from our 1,200 agency client base to understand how they embrace programmatic in their efforts to connect marketers and their brands, to consumers.

The FreeWheel Advertisers’ Quarterly Agency Survey, first developed ten years ago, reveals key insights from top-level decision-makers on a range of issues impacting agencies: from economics to hiring, to the types of media they are buying, and their general outlook about their business. Our most recent survey focuses on the opportunities and forecast for programmatic strategies and investments. After all, FreeWheel Advertisers (FWA), formerly known as Strata, is no stranger to programmatic concepts. We have a long legacy of streamlining workflow and using data to precisely target audiences for optimal campaign results– in other words, we have delivered programmatic solutions long before they went mainstream. And now as part of FreeWheel, when combined with the FreeWheel Markets solution which provides automated and protected monetization across all transaction types, formats, and screens, FWA is eager to fully leverage synergies for the benefit of the greater ecosystem

Here are a few key takeaways from our survey on programmatic trends:

Programmatic Sees Ever-Increasing Adoption Across all Mediums and Advertising Verticals

The investment in programmatic strategies continues in 2018 across all types of advertising, indicating a continued shift in marketplace ideology. Across the board, agencies report increased investment, with 81% of agencies allocating programmatic dollars for video, mobile, and display advertising in 2018. Technical advancements have reduced the barriers to adoption, while improved data and targeting have defined programmatic a necessity to achieve scale while expanding both reporting and campaign efficiencies.

Audio and Television are Growing faster than Display and Mobile  

While mobile and display continue to enjoy high rates of adoption, our survey reveals widespread optimism for increased growth in programmatic television and audio with 60% of respondents saying that they will allocate budget for these mediums, up from 35% last year. This is the first time over 50% of our agencies project to spend at least some of their budgets on programmatic TV and audio. Publishers are already capitalizing on these trends—for example, in February our partner, Pandora announced that buyers can now purchase programmatic audio inventory creating new opportunities for buyers to purchase audio digitally that was not previously available to them.

Automotive Advertising has the Highest Adoption of Programmatic Buying

The automotive industry has been undergoing its own evolution over the past years to meet changing consumer needs and expectations. This evolution has required automakers to streamline their advertising processes faster than other verticals. As Advertising Age points out: “As automotive sales descend from their record highs, marketers must find new ways to grow or at least maintain sales volume and margins. To succeed, automotive marketers need to adopt a more holistic approach to brand marketing and incentives. They should also consider embracing new digital tools and innovations that can improve coordination across functions and boost overall marketing efficiency.”

Ongoing improvements in advertising quality and an emphasis on brand safety will enable further growth in both programmatic direct and private marketplace deals. We are taking these trends into account as we partner with companies who support programmatic workflows like, a programmatic platform focused exclusively on local buying.

For more data-driven insights, take a look at the Agency Survey Infographic below and stay tuned for more revelations when we release our “Agency Outlook” survey in May which will dive into business and hiring trends impacting the industry.