Myths of programmatic advertising debunked

Programmatic advertising has run into its fair share of problems, from bad ad placement to data quality to slow-loading web pages.

At Digiday’s Programmatic Summit in Dublin, Ireland, this week, we gathered over 100 programmatic experts from marketing and publishing to discuss and debunk some of the myths around programmatic.

Here’s what we learned on Day One:

Myth 1: The YouTube crisis was a surprise 
The dangers of advertising on user-generated content platforms like YouTube are nothing new. But it feels new, given the level of outcry it caused across the industry.

In reality, a lot more money was probably spent dealing with the aftermath than the amount of ad dollars affected in the first place. It was a much-needed wake-up call, but not news.

“Either people knew this kind of thing happens already, or they didn’t know but weren’t taking enough of an interest to find out, or they didn’t want to pay for having the benefit of content verification in place,” said a media owner and former agency exec. “From talking to some advertisers, you have to work hard to sell in high levels of brand-safety verifications like white-listing, things that will increase CPM. That’s not been popular.”

Myth 2: Header bidding will solve all publishers’ problems
Enough of the buzzwords already. “Header bidding has become this catch-all term,” said Ben Hancock, global head of programmatic trading at CNN International Commercial. “It will help get us closer to solving problems, but there’s still a way to go.”

Header bidding, whether server-side or client-side, takes time to implement. Rather than focus on the technology, and the buzzwords around header budding, publishers should focus on selling inventory in a variety of ways to suit the programmatic landscape.

Myth 3: Programmatic isn’t just for direct advertising
The case that programmatic advertising can work just as well for brand advertising as for direct marketing hasn’t been made. Brands still aren’t convinced that programmatic can shift the dial on big branding campaigns. It’s also harder to guarantee brand safety online than it is in traditional channels like TV or outdoor. But the belief that programmatic is just for direct-response advertising is one of the biggest myths around, according to Anthony Rhind, chief operating officer of Beamly, the wholly owned digital marketing agency of beauty manufacturing giant Coty. And all the jargon and acronyms don’t help. “Even cost-efficiency brands aren’t interested in cost efficiency alone — they want what’s best for their brand,” he said.

Myth 4: Marketers bringing programmatic in-house doesn’t threaten agencies
As the amount of money funneled into programmatic ad spending increases, brands are taking elements of trading in-house, where they can have full visibility over transactions. This puts the role of the agency under pressure.

“What advertisers are having to get their head around is owning that first-party data themselves, while having agencies be a partner,” said Marco Bertozzi, head of sales at Spotify. “It makes sense for big agency groups to invest in technology.”

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