RTB sees sustained activity during key holiday period

December 18, 2013  |  Chris Powell  |  Comments

Unlike last year, when activity spiked on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, there has been sustained marketer investment in the programmatic buying space this holiday season.

Andrew Casale, vice-president of strategy at real-time bidding specialists Casale Media, attributed the increase to a shorter shopping season brought about by the later-than-usual U.S. Thanksgiving.

“Rather than having a big Black Friday, a big Cyber Monday and a healthy December, we’re now seeing literally a big day every day,” he said. “Last year felt like there was a lot of targeted media spend against two days. There was certainly spend outside of those two days, but it was not significant.”

Programmatic buying activity is “far stronger” than last year said Casale, with the amount of transactions at least double that of 2012. Demand increased with the arrival of Black Friday and hasn’t subsided, he said.

Casale said that the picture painted by this year’s activity makes it appear that the programmatic space has become “a little more mature” this year, with more marketers employing the tactic in an effort to boost holiday sales.

“Last year a marketer may have said ‘Let’s give this RTB thing a shot on Black Friday and Cyber Monday and see how it does.’ This year they’re saying ‘Let’s give it a slice of our holiday budget. It’s a contrast between giving it a shot and committing to it.”

He also noted a “significant” contrast between the Canadian and U.S. markets, with automotive activity catching up and even pulling ahead of retail in Canada on some days. That is a stark difference to the U.S., where retailer investment in programmatic is double that of automotive. “It’s a little unexpected,” said Casale.

He attributed the discrepancy to the slower rate of adoption in Canada by Canadian retailers. While several major retailers including Sears, Target, Walmart and Canadian Tire are among the top 20 users of programmatic buying in Canada this holiday season, Casale noted that the use of programmatic hasn’t widely penetrated the category.

He said that much of the automotive activity involves highly targeted creative built largely around holiday-themed deals.

Several automakers are among the top 20 programmatic users in Canada this holiday period: Ford, GM, Chrysler, Toyota and Hyundai. Telco is the next major category, with users including Rogers, Telus and Bell.

Casale said that RTB activity in the U.S. has progressed from its origins as a direct-response oriented medium relying on well-placed ads to get people to make a decision immediately.

“It’s not just click on a banner and buy,” said Casale. “What we’re seeing south of the border these days is the rest of the funnel starting to come into the space, where everything from higher-impact awareness – where brands are looking to cast a very wide net and lift all the metrics – to targeted placements with publishers that are very tactical and not necessarily about getting someone to do something now.

“It’s all about creating more brand advocates or swaying consideration.”

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