Publishers have long held the line against so-called "programmatic" ad-buying technologies for fear they would drive down the price of ads.
But that's changed. Now that 85% of online advertisers are buying ads this way, publishers are increasingly following suit.
A new IAB study, conducted in conjunction with the Winterberry Group released today found that 72% of publishers now participate in programmatic, closely following the vast majority of advertisers that do the same. And, within the next two years, the number of participating publishers is expected to increase to 83%.
"As more and more publishers implement these systems, they're seeing that there are additional benefits from participating in the exchange," said IAB exec VP and COO Patrick Dolan in an interview. "It's definitely an industry trend," he said. "It's a way people are going."
While perhaps not surprising, the numbers show that many publishers have moved past their initial reticence around selling programmatic. Offering inventory via mechanized and real-time tech platforms was seen by many as a sure way to commoditize their inventory, but the walls have slowly come down over time.
The New York Times, for instance, recently hired its first "programmatic advertising director." News Corp and Turner have made peace with programmatic by setting up private exchanges. And even so-called "programmatic opponents" such as Gawker and USA Today have changed their tune, wading into programmatic waters after declaring a desire to operate outside of the ecosystem.
This much is true: programmatic ad spending is growing fast, albeit from a very low base. According to eMarketer, it is expected to increase by 73.9% this year and 35.8% next. And programmatic is growing so fast that eMarketer just had to revise its numbers up to their current level due to larger than expected demand.
Publishers are starting to understand that being programmatic-savvy is now a key to their business. No longer afraid, they're positioning themselves to compete in a changing media environment.