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Nick Morley EMEA Managing Director Integral Ad Science

Is programmatic advertising cleaning up its act?

According to eMarketer ads traded programmatically will soon account for 70% of all UK digital display ad spending, and by the end of 2017 this will rise to more than three-quarters. These figures show a huge increase in programmatic advertising, but what about the quality of programmatic advertising? Have we seen an increase here as well?

Programmatic advertising has come a long way since the initial perception of providing scale relatively cheaply for brands to advertise to their target market. Programmatic is now viewed as an efficient and effective solution that enables advertisers to reach consumers.

As the industry started to show increasing concern around media quality, programmatic really came under fire. The perception was that inventory traded programmatically was of low quality, and that there was no guarantee ads were being served to real people.

Fast forward to 2017 and although programmatic inventory isn’t perfect, as is no method of trading, programmatic advertising has made real inroads towards trading on inventory that is fraud free, brand safe and viewable. Due to this, we have seen a huge increase in the levels of trust levels in programmatic over the years, as brands and agencies learn more about the channel.

Many technology providers now work with third party verification companies, such as IAS, to help protect brands online when working in programmatic channels. Data from our H1 2016 report shows that the gap between publisher inventory and programmatic inventory is narrowing.

When comparing display ad impressions purchased through programmatic channels, versus directly with a publisher, viewability rates were found to be 57% and 62% respectively. Ad fraud risk came in at 3.2% for programmatic and 2.6% for direct. Brand safety risk came in at 8% for programmatic and 6.8% for direct, with violence being majority of risky impression being flagged for violence for programmatic (34.4%), in comparison to offensive language for publisher direct (40.25).

Whilst publisher results still fare better than programmatic in the findings from our H1 report, it is promising to see the gap between publisher and programmatic narrowing.

Programmatic trading is definitely taking the right steps and measures towards cleaning up its inventory. If programmatic continues to work towards providing, viewable, fraud free and brand safe inventory then hopefully in the future we will see programmatic trading providing the same level of media quality that we see from publisher direct.