Ad fraud and brand safety remain key programmatic concerns: report

IAB Europe CEO, Townsend Fehan

IAB Europe has released the 2019 edition of its annual ‘Attitudes to Programmatic Advertising’ report, alongside its programmatic market-sizing research. Now in its fifth year, the report offers a comprehensive analysis of the European programmatic landscape, covering strategies and adoption trends, drivers of and barriers to growth, and forecasts for the future for 31 markets.

The report reveals that programmatic revenue grew by 33 per cent in 2018, topping €16.7bn (£14.9bn), with more than 70 per cent of display and more than 50 per cent of video now traded via programmatically. Social media buying dominates programmatic, but when this medium is removed the market saw impressive growth of 26.6 per cent, to a total of €5.5bn.

A key finding within the report is that whilst many of the challenges the industry has faced – particularly around ad fraud and brand safety – remain an ongoing concern, the buy-side has not yet adopted ads.txt and the mobile-specific apps-ads.txt in significant numbers. Only 6 per cent of advertisers and 26 per cent of agencies are buying the majority of their inventory ads.txt verified.

Amongst publishers, ads.txt adoption is much higher, with 56 per cent of them selling the majority of their inventory with an ads.txt file attached. This suggests that the ads.txt inventory exists but more buyer education and adoption is required.

Commenting on this insight, David Goddard, VP global programmatic strategy at BBC Global News, said: “I hope the release of this year’s ‘Attitudes to Programmatic Advertising’ report will be the catalyst for greater levels of app-ads.txt adoption for publishers, increasing the volume of inventory that is verified, whilst increasing buy-side awareness of this simple, yet effective tool to tackle transparency and quality concerns.”

The study also reveals a clear shift to hybrid models for programmatic trading as the number of advertisers with in-house operations overtakes the number outsourcing to an agency, alongside an increase in the number using external consultancies. Advertisers using consultancies for programmatic buying grew to 7 per cent in 2019, from zero per cent reported in 2018. In addition, 52 per cent of advertisers cite that they are considering taking programmatic in-house in the next 12 months whilst 50 per cent claim they plan to use an external consultancy.

“The programmatic industry is experiencing a period of rapid transformation, to ensure it continues to provide a safe environment for advertisers, a positive experience for consumers and addresses the demands made by new regulation throughout the world,” said Townsend Fehan, CEO, IAB Europe. “In the context of this evolution, it is encouraging to see the majority of stakeholders expecting an increase in programmatic investments of up to 80 per cent over the next 12 months. In particular, we expect digital out-of-home, audio and connected TV to be areas of growth. It is clear however that talent, the low buy-side adoption of ads.txt, and supply chain transparency remain impediments to this growth and these are areas we will be addressing with our members.”