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45% of marketers have transparent relationships with programmatic partners

Major multinationals have continued to increase ad spend via programmatic channels, despite widely publicised concerns about brand safety and transparency.

A new study from the World Federation of Advertisers titled The Future of Programmatic has found that budgets are expected to be up by 11 points, from 17% of total digital media investment in 2016-17 to 28% in 2017-18 on average globally.

There will also be further increases with mobile (up for 87% of respondents) and video (up for 68%) due to benefit from increased investment. There will also be additional focus on new programmatic channels such as ‘advanced TV’ and ‘digital OOH’ with 77% of respondents stating that they will increase spend in these areas.

The study said, marketers have been working hard to deliver internal media transformation, and 24% of respondents feel they have already brought their internal staff up to speed on programmatic. Around 45% are prioritising internal capability this year and nearly 28% of respondents are looking to recruit programmatic specialists.

North America is the region where programmatic is most established with spend expected to hit 31% of digital budgets in 2017/18. Latin America and China are the least established at 20%.

Transparency concerns

Alongside the rise in programmatic spend, marketers have also been pushing for changes to address their concerns around transparency.

The study states that it is now not uncommon for clients to have ‘disclosed’ contracts and 45% believe they have a fully transparent relationship with their programmatic partners. A further 41% of respondents say that increasing transparency with programmatic partners is a major priority for 2018.

Although walled gardens have been a big focus in 2017, two-thirds of advertisers are looking for further changes with walled gardens this year. Gardens remains an issue and concern. Only 10% believe they have already addressed walled garden and data access issues and 66% see it as a priority.

Data transparency is also moving up the agenda with 62% reporting that addressing segment mark-ups and data arbitrage is a major priority for 2018, up from 14% in 2017.

“In terms of its public relations with the wider marketing community, it’s fair to say that 2017 hasn’t been a great year for programmatic. But there’s too much momentum now, and in spite of the issues, clients do generally see the benefits – brands will spend a growing share of their digital ad budgets in programmatic in 2018,” Matt Green, global lead – media and digital marketing at the WFA said.

He added that there will be continued pressure on contracts, greater in-house understanding and on-going efforts to make better use of data in attribution models in 2018. The major priority for the short-term is preparing for the arrival of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), for which the clock is ticking.”

Meanwhile, with GDPR due to come into force on 25 May, it’s unsurprising that 83% of respondents see compliance as a priority for 2018. However, only 10% say they have already ensured their programmatic activity is fit for purpose post GDPR. Advanced data usage is becoming commonplace in programmatic. Nearly 9 in 10 (87%) respondents model data for best customer ‘lookalikes’ and target these segments (up from 38% in 2015). Meanwhile 74% of respondents use programmatic approaches to target specific customers and segments (with relevant in-context messages).

“It’s no surprise that marketing budgets devoted to programmatic are slated to be up in 2018. With the laser focus on transparency and cleaning up the supply chain from brands, agencies and technology partners, I think there’s more confidence in the ability of programmatic to deliver true ROI than ever before as we as an industry that will continue to tackle the top-of-mind challenges facing marketing,” said Mike Shaw, VP EMEA at dataxu.

The study, which was conducted alongside the WFA’s marketing software partner dataxu, is based on responses from 28 companies spending in excess of $50bn globally on marketing communications. The research was carried out in November and December last year.

Measurement of programmatic

Meanwhile, Google recently worked with Nielsen and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and found that buying media with a single tool enables marketers to reach more unique users (for the same investment in impressions) and saves time.

The study states that by using separate systems instead of a single, streamlined workflow, marketers are losing out on performance and efficiency.

The study found that with a consolidated approach, brands can control how many people they reach and how often they reach them during the purchase journey. Instead of inadvertently reaching the same people over and over again, brands can now direct budget to reach more consumers. This also translates into a better experience for consumers because it reduces over-exposure.

Across the 10 campaigns studied, Nielsen found that when brands consolidated their campaigns using Programmatic Guaranteed, they experienced an 11% increase in reach efficiency. That means that for the same impression investment, they reached 11% more unique consumers.

The consolidated campaigns were run using Programmatic Guaranteed, which allows buyers to use programmatic ad technology to reserve inventory directly with publishers. From a process and workflow standpoint, managing multiple types of ad buys in parallel for the same campaign creates operational waste for agencies, marketers, and publishers. They end up duplicating work on budgeting, forecasting, creative reviews and other tasks. Collectively, this “extra” work adds up to a substantial amount of time that could be spent on other higher-impact initiatives.

In a separate study, BCG closely evaluated the ad buying and selling workflows of over 40 agencies, advertisers, and publishers around the world, including 23 from Asia Pacific. These companies used both Programmatic Guaranteed and traditional reservations to transact direct media buys.

BCG found that there were significant time savings for all parties when using Programmatic Guaranteed versus traditional reservations, after the upfront work necessary to streamline and simplify workflows was completed.

From insertion order to billing, media buyers spent 29% less time on set-up and ongoing campaign management with Programmatic Guaranteed compared to traditional reservations. And media owners spent 57% less time on set-up and ongoing management compared to traditional reservations.

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