4As Report Says 'Programmatic' Is The Future, Blames Press For 'Sensationalizing' In-Housing

Nearly two-thirds (62.6%) of senior ad industry executives on both the supply and demand sides of the business believe programmatic technology will be the underpinning of data-driven marketing in the future, according to findings of a study released this week by the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As).

"The Future of Programmatic and Automation" report, which was fielded by The 614 Group, combined a review of existing industry research as well as both quantitative and qualitative surveys of a cross-section of senior industry executives, and found a relative consensus on what "programmatic" means, but some significant variances on its benefits and how it should be applied -- especially with regard to the use of data, and whether it will lead marketers to bring their media and related data processing in-house.



Interestingly, the survey does not break out marketers' responses, but provides a breakout for ad agency respondents vs. "all others," including a melange of clients, media and technology vendors.

Asked a series of questions about respondents' views on programmatic leading to the "in-housing" of advertising and media, industry respondents were split.

Agency respondents, in particular, cited the "costs of attracting and retaining the right talent," while agency respondents were also the least likely to support the notion that in-housing "facilitates relationships between marketers and publishers and the creation of custom content."

While the report clearly delineates the study's most volatile findings -- with regard to in-housing -- in a partisan way, the report's narrative blames industry perceptions surrounding it on "sensationalizing" by the press.

"The research examined in-housing and found that it is neither all or nothing, nor is it as definitive as the press headlines may indicate," the report's authors write, adding: "It is happening to varying degrees, and it is altering the client-agency relationship."

The assertion runs contrary to a number of industry studies showing a pronounced shift toward clients taking some advertising functions in-house, especially media-buying and audience targeting, largely because they want greater control over and proximity to consumer data.

Interestingly, a representative survey of advertisers and agencies conducted by Advertiser Perceptions for MediaPost's Research Intelligencer last year found marketers were in fact less prone to take programmatic in-house than their agency counterparts.

One thing that the 4As'/614 Group's study does show for the most part is a consensus around the increasing role that first-party data plays in enabling programmatic advertising and media-buying -- something many industry observers believe will be the next gold rush in the ad industry.

*Directional only due to small cell size.

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