NEW YORK: The rapid advance of programmatic ad buying has been underlined by new figures suggesting that real-time bidding (RTB) will account for 29% of US digital display adspend by 2017.

A new report from eMarketer report, Programmatic Advertising: Forecast and Future Growth Trends, said advertisers were spending more than expected on real-time bidding and upped its forecast for 2013 from $3.34bn to $3.37bn, representing a 75.3% increase on 2012.

It anticipated steady, if smaller, increases over the next four years. A 38.4% rise in 2014 will take the total to $4.66bn, followed by 31.9% in 2015, 28.0% in 2016 and 15.3% in 2017, by when total RTB spending will amount to $9.03bn.

This progress is due to ongoing efforts to improve the quality of digital display ad inventory, as well as the adoption of RTB by publishers and media buyers seeking greater advertising efficiency.

Citing closely aligned estimates from multiple research firms, including JMP Securities and IDC, eMarketer argued that this convergence was proof of the growing maturity of RTB as a purchase channel.

Separately, a white paper from the consulting firm  Winterberry Group noted that the programmatic approach had grown equally addressable to all media types – paid, owned and earned – as well as channels, and said television and mobile represented the "most transformative likely pillars of future growth".

It also said advertisers and publishers were driven by "fundamentally different concerns". Where marketers were initially attracted by the potential to buy advertising more cheaply, they now saw the real opportunities in driving more effective media utilisation, especially in terms of identifying, segmenting and targeting audiences.

For publishers, however, operational efficiency remained paramount to other considerations, with 63% saying the ability to "efficiently value and transact media" was their most important concern.

But this was more than simple cost-cutting, as publishers indicated the importance of establishing a platform to support sustainable business practices which in turn could be seen as a potentially influential driver of expanded audience value.

Data sourced from eMarketer; additional content by Warc staff