Digiday+ Research: Agencies’ clients heavily favor programmatic over direct-sold for online display ads

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Programmatic advertising is far from perfect. But that doesn’t stop agency clients from investing there, especially when they’re allocating marketing spend for online display ads.

This is according to a Digiday+ Research survey of over 100 agency professionals.

Digiday’s survey found that most agencies invest in online display ads on behalf of their clients. Eighty-seven percent of agency pros told Digiday their clients spend at least a little of their marketing budgets on online display ads — a number that has remained fairly consistent over the last year.

The highest percentage of agency pros said their clients invest a moderate portion of their budgets in online display ads (30% said this), followed by 22% who said their clients invest a large portion of their budgets in online display and 20% who said their clients put a small portion of their budgets into online display ads.

In other words, on the scale of investing in online display ads as a marketing channel, most agencies’ clients fall somewhere in the middle. And this trend has been consistent through the last year.

Digiday’s survey also found that most agencies are confident that online display ads work for their clients. Almost all agency pros are at least a little confident in online display ads: 89% of respondents to Digiday’s survey said they have some level of confidence the channel drives marketing success for their clients.

The level of confidence agency pros have in online display ads fluctuates, though.

The percentage of those who are slightly confident that online display ads drive marketing success has risen steadily over the last year (from 15% a year ago, to 25% six months ago, to 29% today). At the same time, the percentage of those who are somewhat confident in online display ads saw a jump in the last six months, from 23% in Q3 2022 to 31% in Q1 of this year (although this percentage is still down slightly from a year ago, when 33% of agency pros said they were somewhat confident in online display ads).

Meanwhile, the percentage of agency pros who said they’re confident in online display ads saw a drop-off in the last six months (from 33% in Q3 of last year to 24% in Q1 of this year). This is after remaining steadily at 33% through 2022.

Of those agency pros whose clients invest in online display ads, Digiday’s survey found they are more likely to spend — and spend big — on programmatic display ads over direct-sold display ads.

More than three-quarters of agency pros whose clients invest in online display ads (79%) said their clients spend none, a very small portion or a small portion of their marketing budgets on direct-sold display ads.

By comparison, two-thirds (66%) said their clients put a moderate, large or very large portion of their marketing budgets toward programmatic display ads. And fewer than a quarter (22%) said direct-sold accounts for a moderate, large or very large portion of their clients’ budgets.

When looking at direct-sold display ads, the largest group of respondents to Digiday’s survey were those who said their clients spend a small portion of their overall marketing budgets on direct-sold display, at 31%. On the programmatic side of the coin, the largest group of respondents said their clients spend a moderate portion of their budgets on programmatic display, at 32%.

Breaking out the biggest spenders, 4% of agency pros whose clients invest in online display ads said they spend a large portion of their marketing budgets on direct-sold display ads, compared with 24% who spend a large portion of their budgets on programmatic — a major difference. And only 2% of agency pros said their clients spend a very large portion of their budgets on direct-sold, compared with 10% who spend a very large portion on programmatic.

https://digiday.com/?p=489467

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