LONDON: Two-thirds of the world’s digital display advertising is set to be traded programmatically within a couple of years, but, say two industry figures, the issue of context has to be addressed.

Programmatic Marketing Forecasts, a new study from Zenith, reports that programmatic ad sales are growing at an annual average rate of 21% per year and will be worth $57.5bn this year; by 2019 the total will be $84.9bn and programmatic will account for 67% of all global display advertising.

“Advertisers need to understand that it won’t be long before digital display is 100% programmatic, and that some of what we consider ‘traditional media’ will follow fairly shortly,” said Jonathan Barnard, head of forecasting and director of global intelligence, Zenith.

But this seemingly unstoppable progress is not without hiccups, in particular the issue of brand safety.

Writing in the current issue of Admap, Michael Sankey and Ken Roberts of Forethought note that “the risk of relinquishing control of your brand's surroundings is the hidden cost” of programmatic – and one that has tended to be overlooked because of the ease and cost-effectiveness that programmatic delivers.

Their own research – which involved juxtaposing a gum ad with US political ads and measuring implicit emotional responses – found that when a brand ad ran after a political ad it was perceived as 32% less relevant, 29% less entertaining and 27% less appealing.

“This extended beyond negative evaluations of the ad: the brand itself was also negatively impacted,” they say.

A second study replaced the political ads with an insurance ad, which was also found to activate negative emotion, and with “the same negative hangover effect”.

“People have a difficult time compartmentalising their feelings, meaning that the context in which an ad is viewed must not be ignored,” state Sankey and Roberts.

“Political and brand advertising generating negative emotion can have a detrimental impact on how people consume subsequent brand advertising, which adversely impacts ad evaluations, brand perceptions and purchase intent.”

Accordingly, they suggest: “There is a potentially game-changing opportunity to enhance programmatic software by taking context into account, specifically through incorporating a measurement of the emotional elicitation of content.”

Sourced from MediaPost, Admap; additional content by WARC staff