Programmatic is ideal for many publishers and advertisers, especially those seeking an efficient delivery of ads at global scale, but it has come under fire of late. Issues ranging from ad fraud to brand safety concerns have caused some advertisers and publishers to see programmatic as problematic. Will investment continue alongside the bad press?
Despite the lingering issues and worries, programmatic - when done right - has a lot of advantages in the trust and transparency department. The key point here is, as always, when done right. As programmatic has grown, many unsavory players have entered the market and sullied its once good name. When it comes to programmatic, it pays to do your due diligence. A good partner, however, should offer you these four key reassurances:
1) Trustworthy Data-Led Insights for Advertisers
As the old saying goes, knowledge is power. Even its detractors will admit that programmatic offers a trove of information and insights. While some may dispute some of the data they receive from programmatic partners, legacy advertising options like newspaper print ads, billboards and television spots are fraught with measurement difficulties too. The immediacy and volume of programmatic provides a potential treasure trove of data to analyze, which brands can use to fine tune and perfect their ad offerings - so long as the most impactful metrics are being measured.
The insights that brands can glean through programmatic can help them better talk to - and ultimately reach - their target audience. A recent global poll conducted by Rakuten Marketing found that 83 percent of respondents viewed online advertising as disruptive, and 43 percent of those polled in the United States have had bad online ad experiences. But, despite this, seven out of 10 said online ads can be valuable when they are aligned with individual interests, and one in five said these kinds of ads can be useful for e-commerce buying.
Programmatic, as opposed to more shotgun-style “spray and pray” ad approaches, can help brands be smarter and more thoughtful with how they are talking to their target audiences, which goes a long way towards improving the trustworthiness of online advertising.
2) Independent Measurement Verifications Available
For some brands and publishers, the immediacy of a direct relationship can seem appealing and potentially more trustworthy. But, in such situations, how can you really trust the other party? How do you avoid a “he said, she said” situation, especially when something goes awry?
Many in the programmatic space have been especially proactive in addressing these kinds of concerns, actively pursuing third-party partnerships in the form of deep product integrations to help ensure the veracity and effectiveness of any programmatic-related spend. This provides peace of mind not often present in direct ad buys.
Industry groups have gone one step further here as well, establishing protocols designed to further ensure the trustworthiness of online advertising efforts. In particular, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) have undertaken significant actions in this regard.
- IAB: In May 2017, the IAB officially rolled out its Ads.txt initiative, which they succinctly described as “a public record of Authorized Digital Sellers.” This text file database, which aims to provide greater transparency and oversight, has been rapidly adopted. Between September 2017 and late February 2018, the percentage of the top 5,000 websites using Ads.txt went from less than 9 percent to 51 percent, according to eMarketer.
- TAG: The many industry parties that make up TAG have taken significant steps to reduce fraud and other similar issues across the board. Studies from 2017 showed these efforts beginning to come to fruition. One found that TAG-certified channels had 83 percent less fraud versus industry averages, while another showed that industry efforts had successfully reduced revenues from piracy by as much as 61 percent.
3) Well Suited for Accurate Retargeting
If you own a smartphone, odds are good that you spend the equivalent of more than five hours a day looking at this screen. Mobile device usage increased 6 percent between 2016 and last year, with half of all time spent on a smartphone dedicated to apps.
How do brands reach their target audiences on mobile? In-app mobile advertising is definitely a good start, but it’s important to note the fragmented nature of mobile audiences. After all, adults in the U.S. use 25 apps on average in a given month. How can brands make sure they are talking to their target market in a consistent and unified manner across all apps?
Enter retargeting. When done right, it helps advertisers to more consistently talk to the people they want to be communicating with regardless of the app used. Programmatic, especially when supported through machine learning, provides the technical backbone brands need to trust retargeting.
4) Less Prone to Human Error
Humans make mistakes. Worst of all, many of us don’t learn from our mistakes. While programmatic may not be perfect, neither are humans. Someone could include a crucial error in an ad buying form, place an ad in a bad location, include the wrong text in ad copy - the list goes on. The automation inherent in programmatic goes a long way towards reducing the errors that can and often do plague legacy, manual ad efforts.
Plus, as self-service platforms gain greater steam, in-house teams can more easily manage bids, ad placements, etc. This helps to ensure that any potential errors that can stem from including various middlemen in the mix - no need to play “Telephone” with mobile ad efforts!
Why Programmatic is Inherently Trustworthy (When Done Right)
Thus far, despite the concerns related to programmatic, brands and publishers have embraced the technology and its benefits. Agencies and brands are expected to spend more than $46 billion on programmatic in 2018, according to eMarketer, $10 billion more than what was spent in 2017. Further, over 82 percent of all display ads will be bought and displayed programmatically by the end of this year. So far, nothing else really comes close to the scale and automated efficiency baked into programmatic, which helps to explain why investment in programmatic ad buying and placement is on the rise even with the alarmist headlines.
Concerns haven’t dampered enthusiasm on the publisher side either. A Digiday survey conducted earlier in 2018 found that around 50 percent of publishers didn’t think concerns related to brand safety affected their ability to push ads. Only one in five thought such issues affected their monetization efforts.
CMOs are right to be cautious, especially in today’s environment. But, that caution shouldn’t prevent them from utilizing programmatic and reaping its many benefits. Programmatic is for more than just cheap inventory, and it yields the best results when it’s done as a primary tactic and not as an afterthought. Plus, as new technologies like machine learning and blockchain become more widely utilized, the potential drawbacks of programmatic will further dissipate.
“I believe that very soon marketers and brands will accumulate enough knowledge to solve all transparency issues,” George Levin, GetIntent Co-founder and CEO, wrote recently in MarTech Advisor. “The better we understand the programmatic ecosystem behind the hood, the more questions we have. Sooner or later, all these questions will be answered.”
Here at InMobi, we’re always hard at work building and earning your trust. Be sure to check out inmobi.com/trust to learn more about all the ways we ensure honest advertising and how we can help.