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Decline in programmatic while mobile and native make big gains

Programmatic ad buying fell by 12% in the first three months of 2017, versus the same time last year, new data from MediaRadar shows.

The numbers gathered from looking at advertising spending and buying patterns showed 39,415 advertisers bought ads programmatically in the first quarter, which compares to 45,008 in the same three months in 2016.

A lack of faith in programmatic buying has grown, thanks to concerns over fraud, brand safety and a lack of transparency in how ad prices are decided. This means companies and agencies are taking on more direct advertising, such as sponsored editorial or buying brand-safe PMPs (private marketplaces).

Advertisers worry about having little control of their ads

The main concern is that companies have less control over exactly where their ads appear when they are placed programmatically. Instead, a software-led process automates buying, placement, and optimisation via a bidding system.

Todd Krizelman, the CEO of MediaRadar, explained the decline was likely due to problems for companies like YouTube, but that the form of advertising was continually evolving. He expects to see new growth in programmatic buying, but a shift towards programmatic direct models.

Mobile and native formats saw the greatest growth overall

MediaRadar also found that high-CPM ads in mobile and native environments made the biggest gains. Native buyers were up 74% from 2016 to 2017. This is part of a bigger trend which has seen native almost triple since 2015. There were just 981 buyers in 2015, now there are 2,882.

This is because native has a click-through rate of up to four times more than non-native on mobile. People are also more likely engage with native content, as it is non-disruptive.

Overall, the top five sectors seeing success in buying native advertising were media and entertaining, professional services, financial and real estate, technology, and wholesale. The top five ad placers in the US for native were Secco Squared, Potential Investments, Answers Corp., NextAdvisor and JPMorgan Chase and the United States of America.

Video and specialist print ads also proved resilient

Video ads were also making money in the first quarter. Comcast, Procter & Gamble, Microsoft, Toyota, and Verizon all put cash into ads with video. On mobile, Brown-Forman, Time Warner, Anheuser-Busch, Simplisafe, and Liberty Interactive had the highest number of placements.

Traditional media forms continued to decline. Print ad pages fell by 8% against last year after a 6% decrease in spending, but regional titles and specialist publications were still successful.

These conclusions were drawn from a study of 266,324 advertisers and considered their use of digital, native, mobile, video, email and print advertising.