Brands want more control over programmatic advertising – but are not ready for fully in-house

More and more global advertisers are looking for greater control over their programmatic advertising due to increasing distrust of agencies’ measurement and transparency.

According to a report by programmatic agency Infectious Media, 86 per cent of brands wish to start managing some aspects of automated buying, although less than 2 per cent said they would go as far as taking the entire operation in-house.

The study highlighted how 38 per cent of advertisers wanted to manage the strategic and relationship areas of programmatic, including data management plus DSP and DMP contracts.

Meanwhile a third of the brands surveyed said they would like to take on board some of the operational and highly technical work, although only 1.4 per cent agreed they would like to eradicate the agency and vendors’ roles entirely.

The report surveyed more than 200 “decision-making marketers” with a budget exceeding US$100,000 per year from North America, EMEA and APAC.

The survey reported advertisers’ concerns with media agencies’ role, with more than half claiming they were “untrustworthy”, while 71 per cent saying the agencies had “struggled” to adapt to the demands of programmatic media buying.

Meanwhile, 74 per cent concurred that agencies don’t fully report financial data and 73 per cent said they do not accurately measure the performance of their programmatic buys.

Very few major brands have so far committed to taking their programatic operation completely in-house, with Netflix and L’Oreal being among the most notable.

However, a report published by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) earlier this year found that 21 percent of its members are now buying programmatic in-house or via a hybrid model.

P&G’s chief brand officer Marc Pritchard has been among the most vocal marketing commentators who have demanded greater transparency for advertisers following accusations that Dentsu over-billed 100 of its clients over a three-year period. 

Last month, marketing commentator Prof Mark Ritson even warned that “agencies are too late to save their souls”.

Infectious Media chief executive Martin Kelly said: “Advertisers could – and should – begin demanding a better deal, which means revisiting contracts and inserting audit clauses, or switching to partners that grant full data access.

“This will be crucial if agencies are to build a more effective and sustainable working relationship with brands in the future.”


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