Programmatic rated as more important capability than creativity for agencies in the future finds survey

A study of advertising professionals in APAC has suggested that a knowledge of programmatic is regarded as a more important capability than creativity for agencies to possess in the near future.

A study of advertisers, agencies, publishers and ad tech vendors in the region by AppNexus found that while 65 per cent of respondents say that knowledge of programmatic will be one of the most important capabilities that agencies will need to possess in five years’ time, only 57 per cent believe that high levels of creativity will be important.

Capabilities that agencies need to possess, source: AppNexus

Capabilities that agencies need to possess, source: AppNexus

This represents a “significant shift” in areas of focus and expertise for the industry, the report’s authors suggest.

Almost all (92 per cent) of those asked expect programmatic to the dominant or an important force in digital advertising in years to come, and more than half of survey respondents (59 per cent) say a strong knowledge of programmatic is a necessary skill for agencies right now.

The research pointed to a surprisingly high adoption of programmatic in APAC, despite a low understanding of how it works and concerns over its effectiveness.

More than three-quarters (77 per cent) of those asked say they are using programmatic advertising of some kind, although more than a third (36 per cent) say they know very little or nothing about how it works.

Of the biggest concerns over the use of programmatic, almost half (48 per cent) say they fear their ads will appear on inappropriate websites, such as pornography or illicit streaming sites, an issue recently raised by Mumbrella.

Challenges to using programmatic; source: AppNexus

Challenges to using programmatic; source: AppNexus

A lack of transparency over where ads will end up worries four in ten (40 per cent).

Only one quarter (25 per cent) of respondents say they are totally confident in knowing how effective their digital campaigns are.

However, it is the benefits of tighter targeting that is the main driver for programmatic adoption, the study finds.

Respondents believe it is far more important ‘who sees’ an ad rather than ‘how many’, with nearly two thirds of those asked (64 per cent) giving ‘targeting’ as the main reason to use programmatic.

But there is a need for education and greater transparency to build confidence in programmatic, noted Ed Pank, the Asia head of research group Warc, which was among the backers of the study.

“It’s very encouraging to see that adoption of programmatic in this region is on the rise and effective targeting, is one of the key reasons behind this growth. Yet clearly more needs to be done to help build confidence, know-how and best practice across the industry to help programmatic reach its full potential in the years to come,” said Pank.

His point was echoed by the regional CMO of CIMB Adam Wee at a conference in Malaysia last week, who said that there was still a trust issue holding marketers back.

The survey found that agency trading desks are the least trusted part of the programmatic ad ecosystem.

Level of trust in different parts of the ecosystem; source: AppNexus

Level of trust in different parts of the ecosystem; source: AppNexus

Dave Osborn, the head of APAC sales for AppNexus, said they survey showed that the vast majority of digital advertising would be transacted programmatically over the next few years, so it is “critical” that stakeholders are sufficiently well informed about the space.

“Yes, we have to address the valid concerns people are expressing regarding control and transparency,” he said. “But that needs to be part of a much broader education for advertisers and agencies that helps them understand when, where and how this evolution towards programmatic execution can benefit them, and equally where they’re exposed to new risk.”

The study was conducted by Circle Research, in collaboration with Warc and the Interactive Advertising Bureaus of Singapore and Australia. For the full report, click here.


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