- A joint study from the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), Association of Canadian Advertisers (ACA), Ebiquity and AD/FIN titled "Programmatic: Seeing Through the Financial Fog" outlines how marketers are failing to understand and adjust to a programmatic media-buying supply chain, ultimately leading to a lack of transparency, as reported by MediaPost Communications.
- Issues outlined in the report include the widespread use of non-disclosed programmatic buying arrangements between marketers and agencies, knowledge gaps about how the programmatic ecosystem works and a lack of industry standards and protocols that would allow marketers to analyze programmatic investment costs and effectiveness compared to marketplace norms and benchmarks. The report lays out an 11-step plan for improving accountability, largely focused on more disclosure and clarity in partnerships across the board.
- Programmatic media buying is becoming the dominant advertising approach because of its "targeting precision, scalability, cost efficiency, real-time optimization and unprecedented leverage of big data for advertisers,” according to ANA CEO Bob Liodice, but the concern is marketers can't manage programmatic investments as well as traditional media investments.
Programmatic remains one of the key tools for marketers to achieve scale with digital media, but the ANA report underscores how many have bought into it as a tactic without fully understanding how to implement programmatic technologies and that others are exploiting the murkier gaps in the media-buying pipeline. The ANA's finding are backed up by a number of recent controversies centered on programmatic's shortcomings, most notably when Chase scaled back the number of websites programmatically serving its ads from 400,000 to 5,000 with no notable change in the cost of impressions or viewability of those ads.
A number of publishers are also voicing frustrations or even taking actions against the lack of transparency in the programmatic space. The Guardian is currently suing the ad tech firm Rubicon Project over improperly disclosed buyer fees, for example.
Transparency is increasingly important, as programmatic continues to see explosive grow and is expected to reach $33 billion in spending this year. Some players are taking more initiative to improve the programmatic process. Earlier this month, ad tech companies AppNexus, LiveRamp and MediaMath announced the launch of a consortium to make people-based marketing available within programmatic channels as a way to enhance targeting while emphasizing privacy.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) is also hoping to sharpen marketers' understanding of programmatic, in part by changing the terminology to “automated” media-buying technologies in order to be more specific about the full range of underlying programmatic processes, tasks and platforms. The IAB Tech Lab also released a new tool intended to clean up the programmatic space by eliminating the black market for digital advertising inventory.