Most of the news you hear about programmatic has to do with how quickly it is growing or what it is projected to be, but more often than not the growth fails to meet the projections. But why? What is holding back the growth of programmatic.

The IAB recently published the 2014 Programmatic Revenue Report and in it they listed several things needed to increase the adoption of programmatic. In the mobile programmatic environment we believe these 4 are the main current limitations: reduce confusion, increase advertiser trust, increase quantity of premium inventory and advance cross device targeting capabilities.

The adoption of programmatic in the desktop environment is much greater than mobile and part of that is due to confusion with mobile. Desktop does not translate over directly to mobile and that has caused frustration and confusion for both publishers and buyers alike. Mobile has many more limitations (file type, bandwidth, device screen size, etc.), which if not fully understood can cause a bumpy ride for those using programmatic in the mobile environment. The mobile industry bar of knowledge is not extremely high, but many companies have tried to venture into mobile with just their understanding of desktop and have endured a learning curve. In order to be really successful they need to bring on someone who specializes in mobile or has mobile experience.

Viewability and verification are hot topics these days. News reports are continually being published stating how large of a percentage of mobile ads are never seen or only partially seen, which causes buyers to have less trust and confidence that their ads are displaying where and how they were promised. This has caused advertisers to be more cautious about directing a larger share of their budget to mobile until they can be reassured that their ads are being seen. In the meantime, the mobile industry is scrambling to put processes in place in order to gain buyers trust, and being able to confirm viewability is becoming a must in order to grow mobile programmatically.

Publishers are beginning to divert more of their inventory to programmatic, but there is still a lack of premium inventory available. A lot of the programmatic mobile inventory is still remnant rather than premium inventory. Some publishers send their surplus inventory, that they are unable to sell directly, hoping to sell it programmatically, but this type of inventory is not very attractive to buyers. Until publishers begin to make their premium inventory available programmatically, they cannot expect buyers to pay premium prices for their leftovers.

Many buyers use programmatic in order to retarget users, but it can be difficult to identify and track the same user when they use several different mobile devices and environments. The use of cookies is not available on all mobile websites and apps, so when a user moves between a mobile website and app on the same device it can be difficult for a buyer to make that connection. Compound that with the fact that if the user has multiple devices then identifying the same user when they switch devices becomes even more difficult. Many buyers use probabilistic models and other means to try and solve the cross device tracking problem, but it is still very hard to accomplish. The best solution is requiring a user to login per device like Facebook offers, but this option is available to very few parties.

Mobile programmatic buying is a growing method, but there are still several limitations holding it back. Publishers and buyers need to work together to solve these issues in order to increase the confidence and trust of both parties. Once these limitation are overcome, then mobile programmatic buying will increase at an even quicker pace.