CES 2019 Promoted the Idea of a More Collaborative Year for Programmatic

Opinion: There are 3 areas that are expected to drive growth

If the tone of CES is any indication, 2019 promises to be a more collaborative and positive year for digital advertising. At the event, Marc Pritchard put the state of progress as “largely finished with round one.” The comment was specific to the industry’s journey toward transparency, but aptly mirrored the spirit of every conversation. We’ve made some progress, we clearly know who is going on this transparency journey, and now we can really get to work.

Round one clarified who is truly interested in aligning with Pritchard’s vision and who has been simply paying lip service. Agencies and advertisers landed in Las Vegas with strong clarity around which partners will comprise their supply chain moving forward. Because of this, meetings were longer and more strategic, and conversations shifted from sales pitches to discussions around driving ROI for advertisers. Fragmentation has restricted progress and innovation within the supply chain for some time. With consolidation truly in progress, those limitations are finally lifting. The words “supply agnostic” has fallen out of favor, and agencies, now clear that they are only as good as their supply chain, are no longer comfortable leaving it up to chance.

Now that buyers know which team they will be fielding moving forward, round two can be all about making the programmatic supply chain deliver better results for advertisers as compared to any other advertising channel. Conversations at CES aligned around three drivers:

As mobile apps become more prevalent in media plans, maintaining quality will require significant coordination across the entire supply chain.


While certainly not new, nothing matters without continued execution on this front. Common callouts from agencies were aligning viewability more closely with attribution, moving beyond just thinking about fraud as bots, addressing low-value human traffic, including websites designed purely for ads, ads.txt and ads.cert. Additionally, there are concerns about quality in the in-app space, and with the coming emphasis on mobile, protection measures like apps-ads.txt will prove instrumental in supporting continued growth. Advertisers and agencies should start getting close to their consolidated group of SSPs to better understand specific roadmaps related to all things quality. Specifically, as mobile apps become more prevalent in media plans, maintaining quality will require significant coordination across the entire supply chain.


With a high percentage of fixed costs sitting within the supply chain, it’s no surprise that fees can continue to fall as volumes increase on consolidated supply paths. Further, gamesmanship will decrease as agencies and advertisers have removed partners whose values don’t align with their own. It is imperative that advertisers and agencies understand the different fee models that exist within their supply chains and start to question which of those fees should move under their control. There are initial signs that some buyers want to control SSP fees, which will be an interesting evolution.


OTT and other new formats will continue to broaden the reach and effectiveness of programmatic, and mobile video was front and center at CES given the tremendous growth underway. Identity was also in every conversation. The industry’s efforts around aligning on a smaller set of unified IDs are making serious progress. Major suppliers are propagating these identifiers already, and discussions were underway to continue expansion. As advertisers and agencies expand their reach into programmatic channels, they should actively work with their DSPs and SSPs to ensure they are maximizing the benefits of universal IDs, including the ability to increase relevancy and addressability at scale.

The industry is primed for a productive 2019. The entire supply chain is coming together around shared objectives for the first time ever and with consolidation well underway, real focus and innovation on the horizon, which will unlock tremendous possibilities for marketers.