US Programmatic Ad Spending Forecast Update 2018

Video Powers Significant Growth Through 2020

About This Report
Today, more than four of every five US digital display ad dollars transact programmatically. This report looks at the trends driving programmatic ad spending to $68.87 billion by 2020, breaking it down by transaction type, format and device.

Executive Summary

In the US, programmatic advertising is digital display advertising. We forecast that spending on this form of automated buying and selling will reach nearly $48 billion by year’s end. By 2020, US advertisers will transact nearly $69 billion in US digital display ad spending programmatically, accounting for 86.3% of the digital display pie.

How much digital display advertising is bought programmatically?

Programmatic advertising—defined as the use of automation in the buying, selling or fulfillment of digital display advertising—is now the norm. We estimate that more than four of every five digital display ad dollars in the US today transact via programmatic means. More than four-fifths of mobile display and video ad dollars also already flow through programmatic channels. By 2020, the vast majority of US digital display ad dollars (86.3%) will transact programmatically.

Do the majority of digital display ad dollars go to mobile today?

Yes. In fact, by 2020, two-thirds of programmatic ad dollars will go to mobile, not desktop ads. Mobile’s share of US programmatic digital display ad spending will increase, thanks to overall market trends and the continued influence of players like Facebook and Google, who are both mobile- and programmatic-centric. The continued growth of social advertising (again, largely mobile and programmatic in nature) will also drive mobile programmatic investment. However, anticipated gains in over-the-top (OTT) and connected TV ad dollars flowing into programmatic over the next 24 months will keep mobile’s total share from skyrocketing.

Is the majority of video advertising now conducted programmatically?

Yes. By 2020, 83.6% of all digital video ad dollars in the US, or $33.55 billion, will move via automated channels. In September 2018, we redefined video advertising to include not only in-player video, but also out-stream, native and social in-feed video.Since significant amounts of spending on those reclassified ad formats was already programmatic, this translated into an increase in the share of video ad spending we estimate is transacted programmatically. But there’s also organic growth in programmatic penetration of video advertising, thanks to the accelerated growth of connected TV and OTT viewership.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report offers our latest forecast for programmatic digital display ad spending in the US, along with key trends likely to affect growth in the next 12 to 24 months. Included in the forecast is a detailed breakdown of projected ad spending for all major transaction methods. Estimates for mobile display and programmatic video spending are also included.

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Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Programmatic Ad Spending Outlook
  3. Programmatic Direct
  4. Real-Time Bidding
  1. Mobile Programmatic Ad Spending
  2. Programmatic Video Ad Spending
  3. Key Takeaways
  4. eMarketer Interviews
  1. Read Next
  2. Sources
  3. Media Gallery

Charts in This Report

Interviewed for This Report

Eli Chapman
Senior Vice President, Managing Director of Media
Interviewed July 31, 2018
John Egan
MoPub, a Twitter Company
Head of Demand, EMEA
Interviewed August 14, 2018
Gawain Owen
Director, UK Digital Strategy
Interviewed August 2, 2018
Matt Prohaska
Prohaska Consulting
CEO and Principal
Interviewed July 26, 2018
Amanda Betsold
Vice President, Head of Programmatic
Interviewed July 31, 2018
Hardeep Bindra, MD
DSP Product Management
Interviewed August 2, 2018
James Bourner
Director, Digital Strategy
Interviewed August 10, 2018
Alvin Bowles
Vice President, Global Publisher Sales and Operations
Interviewed August 1, 2018
Doug Fleming
Head of Advanced TV
Interviewed August 3, 2018
Jay Friedman
Goodway Group
Interviewed July 31, 2018
Anne Frisbie
Senior Vice President, Global Brand and Programmatic
Interviewed August 9, 2018
Dan Greenberg
Founder and CEO
Interviewed August 10, 2018
Arndt Groth
Interviewed August 6, 2018
Jeff Hirsch
CMO and Head of US Publisher Development
Interviewed August 7, 2018
Jeremy Hlavacek
IBM Watson Advertising
Head of Sales
Interviewed August 1, 2018
Walter Knapp
Interviewed August 3, 2018
Harry Kratel
Vice President, Global Marketing
Interviewed August 6, 2018
James Malins
Senior Vice President, Programmatic
Interviewed August 3, 2018
Ramsey McGrory
Chief Revenue Officer
Interviewed July 31, 2018
John Nardone
Interviewed July 30, 2018
Ari Paparo
Interviewed August 2, 2018
Jeff Ratner
Chief Media Officer
Interviewed July 31, 2018
Sharmilan Rayer
Vice President, Product Strategy
Interviewed July 27, 2018
Rich Rosenzweig
Vice President, Programmatic
Interviewed August 18, 2018
Chip Schenck
Meredith Corporation
Senior Vice President, Data and Programmatic Solutions
Interviewed August 3, 2018
Taylor Schreiner
Director, Adobe Digital Insights
Interviewed August 2, 2018
Jon Schulz
Interviewed August 14, 2018
Tim Sims
The Trade Desk
Senior Vice President, Inventory Partnerships
Interviewed August 16, 2018
Dean Vegliante
Interviewed August 14, 2018
Jay Wardle
Interviewed August 9, 2018
Xiao Wei
Senior Director, Data Analytics
Interviewed July 26, 2018


Lauren Fisher


Nicole Perrin
Principal Analyst
Andrea Szasz
Forecasting Analyst
Tracy Tang
Senior Researcher

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