Premium Programmatic in the Italian Market
Italy is no longer playing catch up- they will soon be playing to win.
From Leonardo da Vinci to Caravaggio, Armani to Prada, and coffee to pasta, Italy has for centuries been at the centre of innovation and has led the way in the realms of art, fashion, music, literature and culinary delights. However, Italy is probably not the first country you would associate with the fast adoption of technological innovation – but that has certainly been the case when it comes to programmatic advertising.
In reality programmatic only took off in Italy during the second half of 2013, playing catch up to other European markets such as UK and Netherlands, both early adopters in the programmatic space. Since then however, the Italian market has been developing at rapid pace, aided by continued investment in both people and technology from companies on both the demand side and supply side of the market.
During the first 6 months of 2014 Improve Digital has seen strong and encouraging growth, with Italian publishers quickly moving from trading in just standard display inventory to trading premium inventory through RTB, including Rich Media, Video, and specialised placements like Skins. IAB Europe’s recent AdEx benchmarking study clearly illustrates Italy’s appetite for video and other compelling high impact ad formats. That appetite, combined with the natural growth of RTB and programmatic premium, serves as a strong leading indicator of what’s to come. Italy is no longer playing catch up – they will soon be playing to win.
The opportunities that come with the adoption of premium programmatic are tremendous. First, programmatic is data-driven, and marketers now have the opportunity to make a stronger connection between ‘Creativity’ and ‘Big Data’ – a recurring conversation theme among senior agency execs at Cannes Lions this year. Marketing leaders are looking at every opportunity possible to bridge the divide between media buying and create decisions. Secondly, it gives advertisers and agencies the chance to automate the time consuming process that they still face when executing campaigns at scale; efficiency gains become all the more important when advanced formats and Rich Media are concerned. Finally, it’s a tremendous revenue opportunity for publishers as it gives them the chance to connect to the largest possible pool of demand. For those publishers not active in premium programmatic (aka, ‘programmatic direct’), a fortune in automated sales activity is simply passing them by.
I believe the Italian market in the year 2014 will be a great case study for other markets to look back on and learn from – about the benefits of creating and delivering ads that speak to specific users in a compelling way, while taking full advantage of the opportunities that data-driven advertising has to offer.