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IAB Europe publishes annual programmatic benchmarking studies

IAB Europe yesterday announced the launch of its annual ‘Attitudes to Programmatic Advertising’ report, alongside its programmatic market-sizing research.

IAB Europe publishes annual programmatic benchmarking studies
Townesend Fehan: “The programmatic industry is experiencing a period of rapid transformation.”

Now in its fifth year, the report is the most 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, says IAB Europe.

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

Key findings in the ‘Attitudes to Programmatic Advertising’ report include:

  • There is a continued push for a quality and safe advertising environment
  • Ads.txt is well established amongst publishers but awareness and adoption on the buy-side is low
  • Talent and skills remain a barrier to investment
  • Supply chain transparency is still an issue
  • The number of advertisers with in-house operations for programmatic is now higher than the number that outsource to an agency
  • Programmatic continues to be a catalyst for delivering brand campaigns at scale
  • In light of GDPR, stakeholders are looking to use more first party data, private marketplaces and contextual targeting

Announcing the report, Townesend Fehan, CEO, IAB Europe said, “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. 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 percent 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.”

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 percent of advertisers and 26 percent of agencies are buying the majority of their inventory ads.txt verified.

Amongst publishers, ads.txt adoption is much higher, with 56 percent 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, 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 percent in 2019, from zero percent reported in 2018. In addition, 52 percent of advertisers cite that they are considering taking programmatic in-house in the next 12 months whilst 50 percent claim they plan to use an external consultancy.