For the most part, advertisers agree that programmatic ad-serving and buying supports growth in online automation. However, industry agency experts believe the "emperor's new clothes" need to button up processes to support a tighter fit.
James Harris, chief digital officer at media agency Carat Global, believes programmatic has been somewhat guilty of throwing ads at people and pushing the industry back to the days of the pop-up advertisements, when many predicted the end of online advertising.
"Programmatic sits at 1.0, which is about hitting people many times, because they're in an audience pool," Harris says. "Brands need to look for the signal from consumers telling them it's the appropriate time to serve an ad."
Harris says the industry isn't taking advantage of programmatic technology in the best way possible. Others have the same belief. The advertising industry remains on track to lose more than $21.8 billion in global revenue due to blocked advertisements in 2015 -- rising to $41.4 billion in 2016, according to a study from PageFair and Adobe.
Programmatic, along with other factors, continues to contribute to the rise in ad blocking. "The unfortunate side of programmatic is the art hasn't caught up to the science," says Chris Tuff, EVP and director of partnerships at agency 22squared. "You have to become a welcome intruder, and brands need to blend in to stand out, especially on mobile."
Trying to figure out what to wear on his morning run, Tuff logs on to the Weather Channel and scrolls down to the hourly forecast. On the third swipe of the thumb, he hits the dreaded click-to-call display banner, which automatically dials the number, nearly waking his wife. Scenarios like this one make Tuff, an advertising exec, want to download a browser-based ad blocking plug-in.
The industry needs to embrace ad blocking as a signal that mobile display, pre-roll video and other types of ad units are broken, Tuff says -- suggesting that brands will use more content and native advertising in response to the rise of ad blocking.
Tuff says the industry needs to create better content and embrace native advertising. Publishers should look into co-producing content and advertisements. He also said engines should go back to their roots of relying more on search engine optimization.