ANA: Transparency and Brand Safety Concerns Drive Expansion Of In-House Programmatic Activity

With heightened concerns about brand safety and transparency, more marketers are taking control of their programmatic advertising activities, according to a new survey from the Association of National Advertisers released today.

The survey of 149 client-side marketers in June and July showed 35% of respondents indicating their firms have expanded in-house programmatic media-buying capabilities, reducing the role of external agencies that previously handled those responsibilities. That's up from 14% compared to a previous study conducted in 2016 by the ANA and Forrester.

Nearly 70% said their companies handle strategy and campaign direction in-house, while about one-quarter of those polled said their firms outsource strategy to an outside agency. 

The number of marketers opting for an “undisclosed programmatic model” — in which agencies don’t disclose what they pay for media that is resold to clients — is declining, per the ANA. Just 19% of those surveyed said their companies now opt for such a model. By comparison, the comparable figure in the 2016 ANA/Forrester report was 34%. 



Just 40% of those polled said they were comfortable with the level of transparency they receive with their programmatic media investments. Problem areas include hidden costs, too many middlemen and ads running in potentially inappropriate channels. 

“It’s clear that a growing number of marketers are taking increasing control of their media investments,” stated ANA CEO Bob Liodice. “We urge all marketers to contemplate these developments and consider following suit.” 

The survey also found that 78% of those polled are concerned about brand safety issues in programmatic media buying. 

Display formats remain dominant for programmatic advertising, per the survey, with 85% of respondents indicating their companies focus their programmatic buying on desktop display ads, followed by mobile display (74%), desktop video (71%) and mobile video (62%). 

While the ANA acknowledged that agencies continue to play an important role in campaign execution, it urged marketers to build their own internal expertise and set specific benchmarks for defining success in the programmatic realm. 

The ANA also urged those that want greater control of their programmatic activities to consider owning data management and demand side platforms, then providing their agencies access to the platform to run campaigns. 

“This gives brands more leverage to demand transparency into contracts and fees and a high degree of control over programmatic planning and execution,” the organization stated.

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