IDC: RTB Spend to Grow 59% Annually Through 2016

Spending on real time-bidded display advertising will accelerate at a 59% compound annual growth rate through 2016, making in the fastest growing segment of digital advertising over the next few years, according to IDC. Global spending on real-time bidded display ads in 2016 will be $13.9 billion, the researcher estimates in a white paper out today (download and pay with some PII).

The report, sponsored by PubMatic, is based in part on interviews with 22 senior ad executives, as well as IDC research and other publically available information. The interview subjects cited the labor efficiency resulting from automation of display advertising has led to “vastly improved” effective CPMs for the publisher and better ROI and targeting on the buy side.

According to the white paper, “Agency executives reported improvements in ad effectiveness anywhere between 20% and 150%, depending on the campaign and the key performance indicator (KPI) employed (CTR, CPA, conversions). Campaign effectiveness and ROAS can further be improved by the use of dynamic ads (i.e., creative that is custom tailored in real time to specific users).

It’s still an open question how quickly publishers will get comfortable with the loss of price controls associated with RTB, but IDC states private exchanges as a growing opportunity likely to draw $1.2 billion in direct sales through RTB in four years.

“These direct sales transacted with automation are the perfect testing ground for publishers to trial RTB with a limited amount of premium inventory and a set list of buyers,” states the researcher.

Examined by region, IDC puts U.S. spending way out in front with an expected $2.2 billion this year, up 105% compared to last year. The U.K. is growing similarly fast but is a much smaller RTB market, with $212 million, which is 12% of total display sales there. Only two continental European markets were examined, Germany and France, and of the two Germany is embracing RTB faster. The market there is $168 million or 8% of total display ad sales, coimpared to $37 million or 8% of display sales.

Over the next four years the researcher sees RTB share by country equalizing somewhat. From the white paper: “By 2016 RTB-based direct sales will contribute 13% of total RTB sales in the United States, 8% in the United Kingdom, 16% in Germany, and 15% in France. In Japan and China, RTB-based sales of premium inventory will stand for 10% and 18%, respectively, in 2016.”


The report is decidedly less bullish than an August forecast by Parks Associates, suggesting RTB will support 34% of display ad sales by 2017. (AdExchanger story)

IDC says mobile RTB is running about three years behind the display cycle, and will progress slowly owing in part to latency issues. On the other hand, IDC writes, “What may also accelerate mobile RTB growth is the fact that most mobile advertising is being sold through advertising networks anyway rather than by publishers directly, which will make it easier to transfer it onto a mobile ad exchange/RTB platform.”

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  1. Let me get this straight. RTB display ad spend to reach $13.9B by 2016. At 59% CAGR. But only $1.2B of this 2016 # is direct/pvt exchange driven. Which means remnant will grow 50%+ YOY for the next 4 years? Highly unlikely, unless constrained supply creates order of magnitude shift in non-premium ad performance, and still would have to be a huge (5-10X) boost in CPM’s to offset reduced volume.

  2. Raj Chauhan

    Agree with you, Kirby. Yes, if you talk to agencies and advertisers they would love to see this happen. Are publishers going to allow this? No way. If we head down this path and publishers lose control of their rates and effectively are paid RTB CPMs how will they support the production of high quality content? Need to protect the guaranteed revenue for publishers while giving the efficiencies and audience overlays brought to us via RTB to the buyers.