Advertising Guest Columns
2 mins read

Rebuilding Trust In Programmatic Advertising

The Programmatic Advisory is a market-leading, independent consultancy that specialises in helping advertisers and publishers understand where the gaps are in their programmatic media-buying or media-selling strategy. The company was founded in 2016 by Wayne Blodwell who previously held the role of Head of Programmatic Product and Activation at Dentsu Aegis and was one of the earliest adopters of programmatic advertising.

In the first of a series of monthly columns for WNIP, Wayne tackles one of the foremost issues facing publishers, agencies, and brands: trust.

Programmatic advertising has undoubtedly become the defacto delivery mechanism for digital advertising.

In 2003, ad exchanges exploded into the digital advertising  ecosystem creating an auction environment in which publishers could offer advertising inventory to brands who in turn presented bids based on the value they placed on the ad impression. Two years later, in 2005, ad exchanges were joined by demand side platforms (DSPs), data management platforms (DMPs), and Dynamic Creative Optimisation (DCO) tools designed to increase the levels of automation in display ad buying.

From this point on, digital advertising had changed forever, and budgets soared.

Between 2004 and 2005, display advertising budgets grew by 44% from £232.9 million to £334.9 million. Twelve years later, in 2017, brands spent £11.5 billion on display advertising in the UK of which £3.39 billion went on programmatic trading, up 23.5% from the previous 12 months, according to eMarketer estimates.

The rapid growth of programmatic came at a time when there was little understanding of the back-end technical processes and no regulations – many dark wizards took advantage of this and set about creating ways to fraudulently take chunks of programmatic budgets. As a result, while budgets have been increasing, trust has been waning, and both publishers and brands are suffering the consequences.

There are many different intertwined practices that result in publishers such as the Guardian receiving as little as 30% of brands’ digital advertising budgets. The problem is that with little, or no regulation in place, these often go undetected and it can be impossible to find out who is responsible. Common problems include: fraudulent clicks from non-human bots; non-transparent practices in the supply chain; spoofed domains; and deliberate incorrect measurement.

There are solutions the industry should get behind – ads.txt, verified marketplaces, and the WFA global media charter are currently the leading initiatives set up to tackle the issues. Collaboration is key to solving the industry challenges and the industry must solve this problem and rebuild trust because programmatic will be the way advertising is served across all mediums in the coming years.