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Data and targeting efficiencies drive programmatic ad spend growth

Research into programmatic advertising spend has shown revenues grew by 23% in 2019 / Photo by Fabrizio Chiagano on Unsplash.

New research into programmatic advertising spend has shown revenues grew by 23% in 2019 to top €23bn, with 77% of display and over 50% of video now traded via programmatic methods. The 2020 IAB Europe Attitudes to Programmatic study was informed by 350 advertisers, publishers, agencies and ad-tech vendors from 31 markets, illuminating several key growth drivers. The Drum explores its findings.

The new programmatic landscape

  • The Attitudes to Programmatic report showed ‘better use of data‘ was the greatest driver of programmatic investment, with the proportion citing this influence jumping from 69% to 80% over the past year.

  • Priorities shifted for those within agencies, where ‘targeting efficiencies‘ was highlighted as one of the biggest spurs to investment.

  • Mounting advertiser enthusiasm for programmatic has seen a correlated rise in ads.txt inventory purchases in addition to awareness.

  • 52% of publishers stated that they were selling more than 81% of their ads.txt inventory.

  • The recent trend toward in-housing may be in doubt, with the proportion of advertisers embracing the in-house model shrinking from 38 to 20% over the past year.

  • The study also highlights a shift from buy-side toward hybrid models with the proportion of advertisers embracing the latter doubling to 30% in 2020.

  • Supply chain transparency remains the single biggest hindrance to programmatic adoption, with advertisers demanding greater control of inventory and at a lesser cost as well as improved transparency and clarity of fees from partners.

  • Such concerns have already prompted two-thirds of ad tech vendors to invest in a fully transparent business model.

Brand safety concerns have reached a turning point

  • Advertiser safety, a perennial bugbear for publishers, diminished as a barrier to programmatic investment in 2020 among both advertisers and publishers.

  • Over the past year, the proportion of advertisers citing the issue as a hindrance dropped from 34% to just 10%. Among publishers he equivalent drop saw citation fall from 27 to 9%.

  • The report authors suggest this shift could indicate industry measures combating the issue are bearing fruit, but also note the simple truth that fraud protection and brand-safe environments ought to be a given.

A stand-out year for connected TV

  • Connected television (CTV) stood apart from the pack as a clear winner across all categories despite current investments remaining low, with 60% of agencies and partners committing just 20% of their programmatic budgets to the sector.

  • This is expected to grow significantly by 2021, with 70% of advertisers and 61% of agencies regarding CTV as one of their programmatic growth areas for the next 12 months.

  • Publishers are less sure of the direction of travel, however, dividing their attention equally between audio and CTV at 46% apiece.

  • In all, 40% of advertisers believe that audio will drive future growth versus a third of agencies who are prioritising DOOH.

  • This year, ad tech ethics emerged as one of the principal challenges to the digital advertising industry. Publishers and agencies have rallied against the emergence of ad censorship in the form of blocklists.

  • Welcoming the resilience of the industry, David Goddard, senior business development business solutions EMEA, DoubleVerify and chair of IAB Europe’s Programmatic Trading Committee said: “Each year the survey draws out the key concerns and opportunities that impact all of digital marketing. It enables the committee and the wider industry to devise new and amend current strategies to tackle key issues or take advantage of opportunities for the next year.”

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