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10 top digital advertisers shift significant spend from programmatic to direct digital


By Ginger Conlon, US Editor

March 13, 2019 | 3 min read

Some of the biggest spenders on digital advertising decreased their programmatic ad placements in lockstep with increases in digital direct ad placement in 2018 as compared to 2017.

10 top digital advertisers shifted significant spend from programmatic to direct digital

Top digital advertisers shift spend from programmatic to direct digital

According to research from MediaRadar, one third of companies that spent at least $1m on a mix of direct and programmatic placements in 2017 and 2018 cut their programmatic spend year over year (YOY), while simultaneously increasing their direct digital ad spend.

MediaRadar chief executive and cofounder Todd Krizelman notes that this shift represents an increase in brand-safe behavior. “Programmatic has been a bit of a brand safety risk for a number of advertisers,” Krizelman said in a release about the research. “In 2018, we saw some big spenders cut programmatic ad investments and ramp up direct dramatically. This, ultimately, gave advertisers greater control and transparency over where their ads were placed.”

But brand safety isn't the only motivation. "New advertising platforms and formats are always emerging. The brands we highlighted are always testing new ways to get their messages in-front of their desired audience," Krizelman told The Drum. "This shift may be a reallocation of budgets to try emerging formats, such as OTT or podcasts."

The top 10 companies that shifted programmatic spend to direct are:

  • Sleep Number
  • eBay
  • Nestle
  • Kellogg
  • Lions Gate Entertainment
  • Walmart
  • Spotify
  • Gap
  • Honda
  • Royal Caribbean Cruises

The research found that the toiletries and cosmetics industry increased direct placement spend the most — by 126% YOY — followed by children’s brands (a 121% increase) and automotive (a 54% increase). Conversely, brands in the athletics industry increased programmatic spend most — by 70% YOY — followed by professional services (at 45%) and the financial and real estate industries (27% each).

"Programmatic is here to stay, but the market continues to evolve," Krizelman told The Drum. "As programmatic matures, we see more brands moving their dollars into private programmatic marketplaces, which are seen as safer compared to purely open exchanges. PMPs generally offer higher-quality inventory, giving brands greater confidence that they are reaching their desired audience, but ads aren’t appearing next to offensive content."

MediaRadar Brand Safe Chart

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