This article is part of a five-part series dedicated to the challenges and opportunities in content marketing.

Programmatic advertising has failed to shed its reputation for opacity — for good reason. Programmatic advertising is not nearly as transparent as advertisers would like it to be. Brand and agency executives gathered at the Digiday Programmatic Marketing Summit in Austin, Texas, to discuss the challenges facing programmatic marketers.

The duopoly challenges
“The way everything is going with privacy and browsers and everything, a lot of the large DSPs, Google is going to own everything. We had 20 partners last year; we have five now. We saw the writing on the wall. As things get more complex on privacy, a lot of the larger partners are going to be more attractive because you can get certain type of inventory through Google no matter what. That sets us up to have everything within those partners and you don’t have to worry about managing different strategies for each partner because they all have their own data sets.” (Marketer)

“As an agency, our concern is that Facebook is simplifying its platform so much that anyone can do it. That’s part of Facebook and Google’s goals, to make it so it isn’t so complex that an agency is needed. So they can then cut out agencies and go direct to brands.” (Agency exec)

Transparency challenges
“The question that I have is, if I put a CPM out there, is that truly being represented throughout the supply chain?”

“You’re opening up your eyes a little bit, but you’re still hazy at the moment.”

“It should be an open box. You should be able to lay out everything on the table so the buyer can see everything.”

Person 1: “Do buyers know that this is a leaky system?” Person 2: “I think the more important question is, do buyers care?”

Privacy challenges
“It kills consumer journey orchestration. You’re not able to really do the full funnel and track it and show what led to conversions when we get into this privacy world.”

“It’s turning digital into TV where you have to target everybody.”

Auction challenges
“I don’t know that it’s actually a transparent auction in the first place.”

“If I pull a list of the top 50 publishers I’m buying and all the SSPs I’m running to see what’s the variance, the CPMs can vary dramatically.”

“What’s happening with the first-price auction and bid shading — there’s too many unknowns.”

DSP challenges
“I think more of the black box these days has moved to the DSP with bid shading.”

“Some DSPs only pass a subset of bids to the SSP.”

“You’re settling for mediocrity [by using a single DSP]. You’re settling for one platform at the expense of choosing the best technology because one technology is not going to do all the things. That solves for it but it’s at the tradeoff of putting together a bespoke solution.”

Cost challenges
“Smaller agencies are surprised by the costs of getting the log files. Some DSPs charge a pretty significant fee on top just to receive the log files.”

“Smaller agencies have struggled with finding the resources to be able to look at the log files. We don’t have the resources to pull and manipulate the data.”

Relationship challenges
“In a time where automation is paramount, it all boils down to relationships.”

“To build a relationship between the agency and the publisher and to regurgitate that to the brands so that they can get the understanding, it’s a very difficult thing to do.”

“Relationships are important, but the work that goes into it is not easy.”

The in-house challenge
“At the end of the day, we’re hoping they might come back around. We’re still here for them and will catch them when they fall. There’s a lot to think about in terms of the systems you use. When we were pitching this business, it was either come in as a partner or they were going somewhere else or not use an agency at all.” (Agency exec)

“[Agencies] can get rates that are incredibly low compared to what we’d get. It would be much more expensive than what we’re paying today. Are the fees we’d be paying above what a large media buying agencies would pay greater than the saving we’d see [in-house]? Right now the answer is no [to in-housing].” (Marketer)

Join us at our Content Marketing Forum in New York on Wednesday, June 5th to hear more about the challenges and opportunities in content marketing.

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