Report finds decreasing confidence in programmatic trading, despite increased investment

Despite the ongoing increase in media spend invested using adtech, the number of advertisers confident that it delivers a return on investment is on the wane (95 per cent to 86 per cent), according to research published today (12 September).

Increase and decrease

That’s the key takeaway contained in the second annual report on perceptions of marketplace quality in programmatic advertising from ExchangeWire Research and OpenX, which also noted the past year has also seen a decrease in the risks associated with programmatic trading, such as poor quality inventory – a 17 per cent reduction over the last 12 months. Therefore, the overall deflated confidence has been driven by other factors, according to the report authors.

Similarly, publishers participating in the study were more concerned over the benefits of programmatic trading, when compared to their counterparts on the buy-side, when compared to 12 months earlier.

In her foreword, report author Rebecca Muir, ExchangeWire head of research and analysis, also noted that advertisers are more confident when it comes to traditional risks associated with programmatic trading – such as ad quality – compared to a year ago, but did note an increased concern about the risks in mobile marketplaces compared to desktop, as budgets migrate in such a fashion.

In particular, she also forecast that as marketers continue to invest more budget into mobile advertising there is likely to be increased pressure on verification companies to improve the measurement of viewability and identification of fraud on such devices.

“Marketers' perception of the actual level of viewability has not changed drastically between 2015 and 2016, dropping by two percentage points - from 45 per cent to 43 per cent,” she said. “That figure, is however, much lower than marketers indicate they will tolerate (only 18 per cent say this is an acceptable level). Furthermore, perception of today's marketplace remains behind desired levels.”

The study also contains the following testimony from John Murphy, OpenX, VP of marketplace quality: “While this shift has not dampened enthusiasm for programmatic — three-quarters of media buyers say quality concerns haven’t decreased investment — it's clear that the industry must focus on delivering consistent value in both mature and developing markets. The findings demonstrate growing anxiety with emerging formats, with quality seen as less of an issue in the now well-established desktop market, but an increasingly serious issue in mobile.”

He further pointed out that estimates of the level of viewability have shifted by just a few percentage points, and that the proportion of marketers who regard only viewability of 80 per cent or more to be acceptable has increased by almost a fifth. The new expectation is far above perceptions of existing viewability rates (43 per cent).

“This highlights the need for brands, publishers, industry leaders and demand partners to work collectively on a mobile-specific solution that will improve traffic quality and increase viewability levels. What’s more, it also emphasises the importance of building more advanced solutions with the capacity to meet evolving market needs and manage new risks as they arise,” he added.

The report is based on the testimonials of over 100 marketing professionals from across the globe with 44 per cent based in EMEA, 35 per cent in the US, and 21 per cent based in APAC. The findings will be debated later today at ExchangeWire’s ATS London, with a full free copy of the report available to download here.

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