The latest auditing of the programmatic supply chain delivered an outcome not unlike many big consulting projects: It told everyone what they already knew, with snazzy charts, and now the top brass is furiously pointing fingers over who’s to blame.

The two-year, $1 million-plus study, commissioned by U.K. advertiser trade body ISBA and in partnership with the Association of Online Publishers, is probably the most forensic look yet at the programmatic supply chain. PwC examined log-file data on 267 million impressions traded between 15 large advertisers, eight agencies, five demand-side platforms and 12 premium publishers. 

A quick summary of the biggest findings:

•  Despite the researchers’ best efforts, only 12% of the impressions (31 million, or 290 chains) could actually be traced. 

•  On average, for every £1 an advertiser in the study spent on their digital ad buys, just 49p made it to the end publisher.  (This is largely similar to the 42 cents on the dollar reaching a publisher that the ANA/ACA commissioned Ebiquity study found occurs in the U.S. programmatic market in 2017. The WFA estimated in 2014 that just 40 cents of a programmatic ad dollar was reaching the publishers.)

•  Of the 31 million matched impressions analyzed, there was a 15% “unknown delta” on average of spend that couldn’t be attributed to the disclosed fees — around one-third of supply chain costs. 

The wider digital advertising supply chain needs to become a value chain if it’s to prevent this from happening. Ebiquity’s Return on Investment database shows that desktop display is one of the lowest of any media channel, averaging £0.82 on the pound — for both short- and long-term effects. TV has an ROI of £1.73 in the short-term and £4.20 in the long-term, according to Ebiquity.


To read the article in full on Digiday, click here.

First featured on 12/05/2020.

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