10% Of Digital Media Now Going Through Programmatic; Agency Trading Desk Usage Declines

The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) has published new guidance detailing how brands can get the most from the new programmatic landscape.

The guidance highlights key steps that brands can take to improve the return they get from investment in digital advertising via programmatic platforms. The steps range from basics such as asking the right questions to the more complex process of negotiating individual contract terms. Advice is also offered on particular technology stacks that clients might choose to use.

The WFA also did a survey of more than 40 major global advertisers (with estimated annual ad spending of $35 billion) which found that 10% of digital media investment is now going through programmatic channels, with 44% of that targeted at online display. That’s double the scale of investment via programmatic platforms recorded by a similar survey the WFA did last year. (The full report can be found here.)



The survey also showed that marketers expect programmatic’s share of the digital budget to continue to grow significantly in the next 12 months. More than 80% expect programmatic video buys to grow and 77% expect rises in mobile activity.

Much of the exposure to programmatic has been via open exchanges and real-time bidding, where 69% of respondents reported they have been active. And 42% said they have also used private exchanges with fixed prices and 31% have participated in invite only auctions on private exchanges.

The survey found half of the respondents were unhappy with the way data is captured, stored and utilized, although ownership of data generated programmatically has been secured by nearly 60% of respondents, versus 33%  in 2013. The WFA said it strongly urges that programmatic clients gain ownership of media investment data and its byproducts such as audience data and key insights about Return on Investment.

The group also recommends that clients take greater contractual control of the technology stack they choose to use, and should consider direct contracts at every step of the chain in order to limit arbitrage and wasted commissions. The survey found that 36% of respondents are now using a Data Management Platform compared to 20% in 2013.

Also, clients should approach programmatic media with a “financial investor philosophy, creating a media investment strategy based on understanding of the media asset and the psychology of the other investors.”  

The use of programmatic verification tools is also up from a year ago. Sixty-three percent of respondents said they use ad viewability tools and 50% are seeking to verify that placement is in a “brand friendly context.”

The survey also found that the use of Agency Trading Desks (ATDs) had declined by 15% year-on-year, while usage of Independent Trading Desks (ITDs) has more than tripled (up from 8% to 30%).

“Advertisers are taking concrete actions to manage the switch to programmatic and understand this new form of trading. This guidance is designed to continue that process and ensure that WFA members learn from best practice and are able to develop the transparent solutions that digital media buying requires,” said Stephan Loerke, Managing Director of the WFA.

"Stock Broker Trading" photo by Shutterstock.

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