Programmatic Is Closing The Fraud And Safety Gap On Direct Buying

The latest Integral Ad Science Media Quality Report makes for interesting reading. Its main headline is that video ad engagement is up, with 38% of video ads that were watched until their completion and 66% viewability.

The other finding that leapt out at me -- other than that video offers a great way to gather attention and engagement -- is that programmatic is closing the gap with direct publisher deals on fraud and brand safety.

Campaigns optimised against fraud suffer fraud levels ranging from 0.5% to 0.8%. Those that did not feature anti-fraud protection saw fraud rise to 5.7% or 8.5%. So there is not a huge difference between the lower figures, for direct publisher purchases, and programmatic -- particularly when anti-fraud technology is deployed. 

It is a similar story for brand safety, where there is a 5.9% risk for programmatic or a 4.6% risk for direct buys. 

Viewability seems to be where the major difference can still be seen -- 53% versus 61% for programmatic compared to direct buys. 

Those are all figures for the UK. For the global figures, the gap between programmatic and direct publisher deals closes even further.

With ad fraud, for example, there is virtually no difference between going direct or programmatic, although there is still a gap between campaigns optimised against fraud and those which are not -- exactly as you would expect. 

Viewability figures show a narrowing to 55% viewability for programmatic, compared to 61% for direct deals. 

In fact, ploughing through the many figures, one of the only areas where there is a noticeable gap is mobile display fraud -- rated at 9% for direct buy and 13% for programmatic -- and again, this is for non-optimised campaigns. There is virtually no gap in the figures when brands use technology to protect against fraud. 

Interestingly, when it comes to global mobile web video advertising, programmatic wins on fraud with a 4% risk for non optimised campaigns versus 11.5% for going direct. 

So video is gaining traction and enjoying high level of engagement. That's a good result and it's no surprise it's the main headline. 

However, look beyond that flagged-up result and you can see programmatic seriously closing the gap on direct buys. In fact, you can say with confidence that programmatic is indistinguishable for fraud and brand-safety levels when the appropriate optimisation is in place.

There is still a viewability gap -- that has to be mentioned -- but the overall picture is that programmatic is catching up with direct buys. 

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