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86% of European brands are in-housing programmatic despite GDPR constraints

By Andrew Blustein, Reporter

April 24, 2019 | 4 min read

Europe's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is supposed to give consumers more control over how advertisers collect and use their personal data, thus making targetability a concern for brands as consumers can withhold valuable information.

GDPR isn't preventing European brands from taking control of more data

GDPR isn't preventing European brands from taking control of more data

However, despite scare stories in the run up to its implementation, a report from the IAB has found GDPR to have had a minimal impact on European business, especially when it comes to bulking up their own programmatic arsenal. The report found that larger brands with "worldwide footprints are beginning to coordinate in-house efforts across markets as part of multi-year plans" even in the face of regulatory scrutiny.

The study found that 86% of brands based in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain have either wholly or partly brought programmatic ad buying in-house.


Overall, 65% of brands surveyed are currently buying ads programmatically, with two-thirds of Europeans brands showing that programmatic ad spend has increased. In the UK alone, nearly 90% of display ads are bought programmatically.

“Programmatic advertising has proliferated around the world, and in an era of globalization, it is critical to have an understanding of how the in-housing trend is taking hold in different markets,” said Orchid Richardson, vice-president and managing director of the IAB Data Center of Excellence.

In the UK, 42% of brands said cost-effectiveness was the main reason to buy programmatically, followed by better audience targeting (39%) and campaign effectiveness (39%).

The study also found that while brands tend to allocate internal resources for strategic activities, they favour working with outside partners on executing technical programmatic functions like data management and campaign optimization.


The IAB surveyed 1,000 European brand representatives who presided over programmatic ad placement at their company.

IAB Europe, alongside the IAB Tech Lab, has also made an updated version of its Transparency and Consent Framework – a technical specification meant to guide consumers and publishers through GDPR – available for public comment.

Version 2.0 of the spec is meant to increase transparency for consumers by detailing in a more granular way how their data may be used. It also integrates the "right to object" signal for consumers if they disagree with a vendor's legitimate interest claim.

The spec also aims to give publishers more control over how they integrate with technology partners as new "publisher restrictions" allow for the ability to withhold personal data from vendors.

This all comes as IAB Europe itself is in the middle of fighting GDPR complaints, which the standards body is calling nothing more than a PR campaign.

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