‘We don’t like uncertainty’ – brand chiefs air views on what they expect from programmatic trading

Marketing chiefs from B&Q, Boehringer Ingelheim, Glaxosmithkline, Pokerstars, Moneysupermarket and Shell have stressed the need for the digital ad ecosystem to “clean up” certain grey areas that remain in the programmatic trading process before they can open up further investment.

Speaking to The Drum, in association with Videology, B&Q’s head of digital display, partnerships and retargeting campaigns, Bonnie Jackson, said troubling issues surrounding ad fraud, viewability and overall lack of transparency and brand safety in the digital ad ecosystem must be addressed quickly to warrant bigger buy-in from advertisers.

“The industry has started to try and address the issues around transparency but it’s taken a long time and taken a lot of advertisers to keep harping on about the same issues," Jackson said.

"Making it a closed environment has held the industry back. But the industry is starting to realise that if you make it more transparent and share information with advertisers then it opens up the industry. But if you make it a closed box then people just wonder what you are trying to hide."

Shell's global media manager Americo Campos Silva, said advertisers "don't like uncertainty" when it comes to their investments, which remains a major symptom of the programmatic landscape.

"Most marketers don’t know enough about digital and programmatic specifically – this is true also for the other agencies that work with marketers, such as creative to PR agencies. They also don’t understand it well," he added.

Meanwhile global media chief for Boehringer Ingelheim, Mark Butterfield, said that transparency over costs is something that must be clarified further. “What is not clear, and what clients suffer from, is the fact that you’re used to paying two to three per cent for offline media, and suddenly you find tech stack costs heading towards 60-70 per cent in some cases – that’s when they go ‘this is crazy’.

“What is really missing in the industry is the key understanding that marketers are interested in one thing – how to sell more product – and how to do that in the most efficient way is what they are after. But unless something gets cleaned up fairly quickly, some of them will walk away and have serious questions about it.”

Glaxosmithkline global director digital media Khurram Hamid agreed that the industry must refine these areas, alongside other ongoing challenges such as what percentage of traffic is human and what is bot-generated, as well as ad fraud.

“If 50 per cent of all online ads advertiser buys aren’t seen, and another large percentage is going to some guy in the Phillipines for ad fraud reasons, or the clicks are not from human traffic – all that needs to be cleaned up.

"There is a lot more the industry needs to do in the next six months to get their house in order because from advertiser stand point – I spend money on media to make money, not to throw it away on something consumers can’t see,” he said.

Most of the brands conceded that TV will become a “natural extension” to the programmatic trading landscape. Hamid said that in the next few years it plans to trade all its media programmatically including TV, adding “TV has existed on its own for long enough”.

To hear the full interviews with all the brands, view the above video.

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