More than 35% of brands have expanded their in-house programmatic media buying capabilities as marketers demand greater transparency, according to the latest Association of National Advertisers (ANA) study.
Published today (December 18) the report – dubbed “The State of Programmatic Media Buying” – figures represent a significant increase in the number of brands undertaking such a task since the original publication of the ANA Forrester report in 2016 which found that only 14% of respondents had done so.
While the findings will be unwelcome news among media agency circles, it does not mean that those directly affected are not completely redundant, as many respondents in the study claimed agencies “still play an important role in campaign execution.”
Albeit, participating marketers said they’d rather take a stronger lead in establishing their own strategy and hold direct billing relationships with adtech vendors. For instance, 69% indicated they handle strategy and campaign direction in-house, while only 24% outsource the strategy and campaign direction to an agency partner.
Additionally, 19% of respondents said they have opted for “an undisclosed programmatic model” with their agency in a bid for greater transparency.
This refers to media purchased for an advertiser that does not disclose the actual closing/winning bid prices, only the final price charged to the advertiser. Such a model can hide agency margins and fees.
This is a significant change from the 2016 ANA/Forrester survey, which indicated that 34% of respondents had opted in to an undisclosed programmatic model.
Bob Liodice, ANA chief executive, said the findings indicated that more-and-more marketers were seeking more direct control over the quality of their media investments, and urged those to take such measure to contemplate the potential benefits.
“They’re making important changes to their programmatic buying practices to address media transparency concerns. Specifically, they’re moving sensitive responsibilities in-house and enhancing decision making by better understanding their costs and media investment transactions,” he added.
Other key findings to emerge from the study include:
- 78% of marketers are “concerned, or very concerned about brand safety and programmatic.”
- Only 40% of marketers are comfortable with “the level of transparency about their programmatic media investments” with “hidden costs” a particular concern.
- “Better audience targeting”, “building audience reach”, and “real-time optimization” were the top three cited benefits among marketers that opted to in-house.
The conclusion of the ANA report offers four key recommendations to marketers:
- Build internal expertise
- Own the data and knowledge
- Understand the trade-offs of an undisclosed programmatic model
- Determine how your organization will define programmatic success
The survey was conducted in June and July of 2017, and 149 client-side marketers participated. Approximately 66% of respondents focus their marketing on B2C efforts, 13% on B2B, and 21% on both B2B and B2C. A total of 48% of respondents work at companies with annual US media budgets under $100m, and 52% work at companies with media budgets of $100m and more.