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Advertisers Are Turning Up The Juice On Programmatic Buying.

Nearly two-thirds (62%) of ad buyers surveyed by Comscore’s programmatic targeting division say they expect to increase year-over-year investment in programmatic ad buying. “Most advertisers transact media through a combination of programmatic and direct means. But many will swing more towards programmatic or direct buying depending on the media channel,” according to Proximic by Comscore’s second annual State of Programmatic Report for 2024. The data shows an uptick in dollars allocated towards programmatic media as “more programmatic-first media channels emerge and advertisers become more attuned to the efficiency and addressability of programmatic advertising.”

In a close call, programmatic transactions are expected to inch out direct buying when it comes to audio and podcasts in 2024. The survey found 30% of advertisers plan to transact the majority of audio/podcast spend programmatically compared to 25% who intend to transact most of their audio/podcast ads directly. By comparison, 60% of advertisers expect to transact the majority of their web & mobile display media programmatically, compared to only 13% who expect to transact most of their web & mobile display media by direct means.

Comscore says it derived the new report from a survey of hundreds of publishers, advertisers, agencies and technology providers. It examines how evolving technologies, consumer habits, data privacy and browser regulations are impacting the programmatic advertising landscape.

Stable Media Budgets

In addition to deep-diving into programmatic trends, the report also looks at media budgets for 2024. Budgets for most media channels are expected to remain relatively stable this year, with the largest change earmarked for connected TV (CTV), where outlays will climb three percentage points on average to account for 17% of advertisers’ budgets. Those dollars will be pulled from linear TV budgets by close to half (43%) of all marketers, allowing CTV to surpass linear TV as a percentage of media budgets. Linear TV’s share of wallet is forecast to decline modestly from 16% in 2023 to 15% in 2024. Web and mobile digital are forecast to remain on top with advertisers saying they’ll spend 32% of their media budgets on those channels in 2023 and will invest 31% of total budget there in 2024.

Social media as a share of media channel budgets is expected to remain relatively flat at 23%, accounting for nearly one-quarter of all marketer media spend, more than any other channel apart from web & mobile digital, per the Comscore report.

Apart from connected TV, audio/podcasts is the only channel forecast for a budget share increase this year, rising from 7% to 8% of media budgets.

The report also examines what media channels will perform better for branding objectives vs. performance marketing. CTV topped the ratings as the leading channel for achieving brand marketing objectives, while web & mobile digital was the top channel for performance marketing.

Share Growth Forecast For Audio/Podcasts

Comscore portrays audio/podcast as a channel of growing importance, particularly for younger audiences. “While audio advertising is still in its growth phase, it's particularly effective with younger generations” the report says. “Compared to other media channels, audio and podcast advertising isn't yet seen as the most effective way to achieve brand or performance marketing objectives. However, that doesn't mean it's not an important media channel for advertisers to invest in, especially if targeting younger demographics.”

The report cites eMarketer data showing 66% of Gen Z listens to podcasts, a 57% increase over the last five years. In addition, Gen Z considers the podcast medium less toxic compared to social media, and 43% of them have purchased a product after hearing about it on a podcast ad, according to eMarketer.

Meanwhile the report finds nearly one-third of marketers are not prepared for cookie deprecation, and a large majority plan to maintain or increase reliance on contextual targeting. Another overwhelming majority believe AI will change the programmatic landscape.

“If 2024 plays out as advertisers indicated in our State of Programmatic report, the industry is looking at a significant increase in programmatic spend, a shift of linear TV budgets to CTV and major growth in contextual targeting as a cookie replacement strategy," said Rachel Gantz, Managing Director, Proximic by Comscore. "This year is also primed to see the industry's adoption of artificial intelligence which most advertisers believe will turn historical industry norms on their head."

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