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7 Key Programmatic Advertising Trends Law Firms Should Know

by Vondrae McCoy • February 10th, 2021 • Digital Marketing | Blog

programmatic advertising for law firmsProgrammatic advertising is “the practice of using intelligent software to automatically buy digital advertising space on different channels and platforms,” and it can be a significant portion of a digital marketer’s plan. Programmatically sold advertising was worth 106 billion U.S. dollars in 2019 and is expected to continue to grow rapidly. As a reminder, the fundamental elements of programmatic advertising are: 

  • Users buy ad space from an ad exchange, such as Google Ad Exchange or AdSense. 
  • Advertisers enter bids against competitors, which can be done using real-time bidding (RTB) software, or a demand-side provider (DSP), which allows marketers to automate bidding across multiple exchanges at once.
  • Ads are then displayed for the highest bidder in a given platform, and the advertiser pays each time the ad is displayed. 

For a refresher on programmatic advertising, visit our blog post: A Beginner’s Guide to Programmatic Advertising for Law Firms.

Those are the basics of programmatic advertising, and won’t change. However, as with everything digital, innovation is constant and new trends emerge. In this guide, we detail the programmatic advertising trends for 2021 to help your law firm take advantage of this newer, agile form of advertising.

7 Key Programmatic Advertising Trends Law Firms Should Know

1. The importance of asset optimization

Creating relevant, personalized and targeted high-quality ads has become increasingly important in recent years, but the continued optimization of assets will be a real focus of programmatic managers campaigns in 2021 and beyond.

Back in August, Google rolled out an advanced feature on Chrome to block ‘heavy ads’ to heighten user experience (UX) and discourage practices that use bad UX. What this means in practice is that any ad that is deemed ‘heavy’ is ‘unloaded’ and replaced with a grey square labelled ‘ad removed’. This feature will ultimately impact law firms using unsophisticated methods without utilizing any optimization.

2. Continued growth of Over-the-Top services

OTT are services such as Netflix, Hulu, and other similar platforms. According to Comscore, these services have added 20 million households in the past four years. As 5G and internet-enabled devices such as smart TVs grow, OTT programmatic advertising may be the future of digital marketing. That’s good news because one media company reports that OTT ads have a completion rate of 98%. Viewers are a captive audience and likely to simply let ads play till the end. 

3. Connected TV is on the rise

In many ways, OTT and connected TV are parallel. Connected devices are those that deliver the video content itself. Common connected TVs are Apple TV and Roku, with installed and authenticated apps that can stream such as Netflix, Prime Video, and Hulu. CTV offers powerful advertising because the ads are highly targeted, use video (which is more engaging), and have high completion rates. Keep in mind that more competition will eventually drive prices down, but we aren’t seeing that just yet. 

4. Mobile remains incredibly powerful

It’s likely that you keep hearing about how important mobile is in all aspects of digital marketing, and this form of advertising is no exception. Smartphones and tablets are becoming the viewing device of choice for many people, with mobile owning a 68% share of digital ad spending. Though the pandemic caused spending trends to fall short of projections, more and more people are using smartphones every day and we expect to see mobile programmatic advertising grow. 

5. Purchasing programmatic ad space within podcasts

Podcasts have become a medium of choice for digital consumers and, thus, an essential part of omnichannel digital ad strategies. Over the past couple years, only 4% of total US podcast ad spending was programmatic, however. That means there is a lot of opportunity for new advertisers in the coming years, particularly when you consider most people listen to podcasts on mobile devices. Law firms can try host-read ads which are a seamless part of a podcast, with the host dictating copy during their show, or a dynamically inserted ad that targets people based primarily on IP address. 

6. Rise of programmatic native advertising due to privacy concerns

Programmatic advertising is heavily dependent on the availability of data, and the fact is that data is going to become harder to obtain. The current environment reflects a lot of scrutiny around privacy and security. While we all wait to see how these new concerns will play out, consider programmatic native advertising. These ads have a seamless feel to them and fit right into the channel they’re hosted on. Host-read podcasts are a great example. These ads don’t set off ad blockers, they enable advanced targeting, and they can potentially drive greater click-through. One recent study by Media Radar stated that the top 100 advertisers increased native programmatic spending by 10%

7. More platforms and tech to account for

We already covered OTT and CTV, but the fact is technology is constantly evolving and marketers need to keep a pulse on new platforms. One such area is digital out-of-home advertising, which are completely digital billboard signs. Advertisers can buy space on them programmatically just like they do online. Voice-activated platforms offer another interesting option. Finally, AI enhancements can help programmatic buyers optimize their campaigns in real-time, and we expect to see much more AI in programmatic buying this year. 


Programmatic advertising is a digital marketing heavyweight that’s gaining significant among for law firm marketing departments. The real-time experience of programmatic advertising and how it can automate and support multi-network ad space purchases are bound to change the way law firm marketers create, place, and optimize ads. In fact, eMarketer projects that programmatic is going to account for 86.5% of all digital ad spend in the US in 2021. It will pay for marketers to be on the pulse of latest developments and programmatic advertising trends.

Are you ready to start generating more leads and increasing revenue with programmatic advertising? Contact us to speak with an experienced strategist from our advertising team about increasing your yearly revenue with programmatic advertising!


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