Programmatic has become the driving force for digital media trading, with forecasts suggesting 65% of all expenditure will flow through automated channels this year. But the marketplace is still highly fragmented with multiple ways to plan, buy, execute, and optimise campaigns.
Providers often operate in silos depending on device, platform, or screen, using proprietary technologies that don’t necessarily speak the same language. The situation is still difficult for advertisers to effectively run customised and unified campaigns that span multiple channels. But what are the specific challenges they face?
A lack of consistent quality
Digital advertising suffers from a variety of quality issues, from viewability to brand safety, and the definition of premium inventory – particularly in terms of premium video – varies greatly between providers. While great efforts are being made to improve quality, these are not necessarily consistent across the ecosystem, and the fragmented nature of the market makes this even more difficult. By getting rid of the silos and allowing best practices and standards to be implemented uniformly across multiple providers, advertisers can be sure they are buying truly premium ad placements from sellers that have direct relationships with media owners.
A need for measurement and transparency
It is vital that advertisers understand where budgets are being spent, but this isn’t always easy in a non-transparent supply chain where multiple intermediaries are taking their cut of ad spend without necessarily proving the value they add. This situation can be improved by simplifying the programmatic supply chain to reduce the barriers between advertisers and publishers, as well as establishing whether those technology providers are representing the interests of the demand side or the supply side.
Advertisers also need to see the impact of their ad spend, but often the ability to accurately measure the performance of campaigns across multiple channels and devices is hindered by the disjointed ecosystem. For example, they may have ads appearing alongside linear programming on a TV set, set-top-box content downloaded onto mobile, and digital video viewed on a laptop – all measured in different ways. With more streamlined processes, advertisers can benefit from third-party verified measurement across platforms. By allowing them to assess the effectiveness of their ads and optimise omni-channel campaigns, they can reallocate spend towards the highest performing tactics to achieve the greatest return on investment. Unilever, for example, has taken a significant step in this direction with its cross-media measurement initiative, offering advertisers transparency in media performance and measuring unduplicated reach and impact across multiple platforms and screens.
Limited scale to feed the funnel
While there is plenty of high-quality digital inventory available for advertisers to buy, the fragmented nature of the industry makes it difficult to achieve the required scale through a single point of access. Working with multiple providers and individual pools of premium inventory is time-consuming and hampers advanced audience targeting to ensure relevant messaging. This challenge is particularly marked in premium video advertising, where audiences are viewing via a range of emerging channels such as over-the-top, set-top-box video on demand, and digital video as well as traditional linear TV. By getting rid of silos, advertisers will be able to reach and engage targeted audiences wherever they are consuming content, across multiple sources of premium inventory, bringing scale and simplicity to programmatic media buying.
Programmatic advertising has much to offer, but only if it is used as part of fully integrated strategies. To make the most of automation, silos should be replaced with more joined-up processes and advanced technology, allowing advertisers to plan, buy, measure and execute campaigns across multiple channels. This will allow them to provide relevant and engaging ads in a premium environment, improving the user experience while driving results across a variety of devices.