Agency Trading Desks Lag In Awareness, Understanding

Despite their growing importance in the real-time media trading marketplace, agency trading desks are one of the least understood parts of the advertising technology ecosystem, especially among the stakeholders that may count most: marketers. In what is believed to be the first study of its kind, Advertiser Perceptions Inc. has begun releasing findings of its first “Ad Tech Study,” which finds that a third of marketers either have no or very little awareness of agency trading desks.

The study, which is based on a survey of 345 advertising execs, ad technology suppliers and investors in December, found that even ad agencies lag the rest of the ad technology industry in terms of their familiarity with agency trading desks.

Only 77% of ad agency executives said they were very or somewhat familiar with trading desks, vs. 79% of media sellers.

The only advertising technology category generating lower overall awareness than agency trading desks, was so-called Supply-Side Platforms, or SSPs -- companies such as Rubicon Project, Pubmatic and AdMeld that help publishers manage and optimize the supply of their biddable media impressions in programmatic media-buying marketplace.



Overall, 64% of respondents said they were very or somewhat familiar with SSPs. Among agency executives, awareness of SPPs fell to 58%, ironically trailing the awareness of marketers (63%) by five points.

“There’s so much noise in the ad tech marketplace that it's creating a lot of confusion,” says Randy Cohen, a partner at API, which conducted the new ad technology survey as a means of “benchmarking” the awareness of various entities in the technology supply chain. He said API was motivated to begin tracking ad technology suppliers because of the rapid invention and reinvention of technology suppliers and the overall confusion some observers feel when looking at things like Lumascapes infamous chart illustrating the complexity of it.

One of the problems, Cohen said, was that new and emerging ad technology suppliers often create new jargon in an attempt to differentiate themselves from other suppliers.

“If you think about it, I think the tech companies are marketing to themselves and to investors rather than to agencies and marketers,” Cohen said, adding that API will conduct periodic studies to measure changes in awareness and sentiment of various components of the ad technology sector.

API is best known for its tracking studies of advertiser and agency awareness and sentiment of ad-supported media suppliers, including TV networks, magazines and digital publishers.

Not surprisingly, the Ad Tech Study shows the greatest overall awareness was generated by the oldest segments of the ad technology industry: ad nets.

Overall, 95% of respondents were very/somewhat familiar with ad networks. Among agency executives (99%) and marketers (100%), there was almost no lack of awareness.

Very/Somewhat Familiar With Agency Trading Desks

Agency Executives77%

Source: Advertiser Perceptions Inc.’s 2012 Ad Tech Study.


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