Programmatic buying is at a crossroads.
First, the bad. The technology, which uses algorithms to buy ads often based on a consumers’ profile and cookie history, is suffering from trust issues.
While the programmatic industry reached a historic milestone, with $25 billion in transaction in 2016, a recent survey from Brunico Communications and AOL found nearly half of marketers were concerned over the safety of their brand message. Programmatic buying often leaves advertisers little control over where their content ends up, which can create some unfortunately placed ads or worse, content on inappropriate websites. High profile issues at Google, in which brands learned their content was appearing next to videos of hate speech on YouTube, have only fanned the concerns.
Another 37% of marketers are concerned over ad fraud, Brunico found. Companies are spending billions in the space, yet programmatic buyers often struggle to confirm viewability rates – that real live humans are actually seeing the content.
We might already be seeing those ripples: a recent study by MediaRadar found programmatic spend saw a 12% decline in the first quarter of 2017 compared to 2016.
But now, the good news. Programmatic isn’t going anywhere.
“And if you are marketing in the same way you were 10 years ago, you’re not evolving,” says Neil Sweeney, founder of Freckle IoT.
Despite the global decline in Q1, programmatic buying is still expected to take up to 74% of digital ad dollars by next year in Canada, while TV ads are expected to pull in more than $2 billion in programmatic buys by 2018, according to eMarketer.
And marketers using the platform have, overall, seen positive results, with 63% of respondents to Brunico’s survey saying they saw a net positive change in ROI, while 76% say they saw improved reach.
“But good results are just table stakes,” says Chris Aleppo, general manager of Media iQ. “If you don’t drive the results your client wants, you’re not going to build a business.”
Increasingly, building, or rebuilding, that lost trust with brands is the differentiating factor.
For example, Juice Mobile’s Nectar is improving upon its private exchange, which connects brands more directly with premium publishers – assuring clients their content will appear on reputable sites; publishers like CBC are putting programmatic at the heart of their ad strategies to woo advertisers, banking on their strong trust among Canadians to allay concerns over fraud; and companies like Sweeney’s Freckle are popping up, hoping to bring more visibility to how effective these ads really are.
Everyone’s got an angle, but which have the right ones? Read on to see which players are upping their game to help them navigate this programmatic fork in the road.