Jan 23 2018
Anthony Loredo

Survey Says: There’s a Growing Appetite for Tapping into Programmatic Know-How


As unrelated and abstract as it may seem, a juggling act is the perfect visual representation for programmatic advertising today. Programmatic advertising has become a mainstay and a necessity in the digital media industry – but it’s not without its confusion or difficulties.

We know, we know. You’ve heard it all before. The current digital landscape isn’t a surprise to those of us steeped in the day-to-day complexities. We should be asking the tough questions though: How can businesses grow without adding more fuel to the chaotic fire? How can digital media professionals remain competitive in a fluid and ever-evolving industry? What solutions and tools are available that will boost performance, make the most of the data, and offer the most value?

Given Centro’s focus on helping to minimize the industry’s chaos, we decided to get the lay of the land and the state of the (programmatic) state. And we went straight to the source: the digital labor force. We talked to advertisers and marketers who are tasked with making sense of it all every day.

By partnering with research firm Advertiser Perceptions to survey more than 150 digital media professionals, we were able to uncover pain points, expectations, and wish lists for programmatic advertising in 2018.

Most of the optimism lies with programmatic advertising: Nearly 40% of digital media ad spenders that we surveyed project PMP spending growth, and 30% project growth on open RTB. What’s also clear from the results is growth in programmatic doesn’t eliminate the need for direct buying – 62% of respondents said they will maintain their direct/IO-based buying in 2018.

With both media buying models intact and securing a piece of the digital media pie, it’s become increasingly important for digital professionals to find ways to mix the two in order to differentiate their offering.

But the tools needed to do just that have become unmanageable. Today, agencies and marketers divvy up their programmatic capabilities between external vendors and various internal teams. Our survey revealed that, on average, advertisers work with 4-5 programmatic vendors across the different ad tech categories  – ‘DSPs,’ ‘data provider and management tools,’ and ‘other.’ Among business management tools, advertisers employ multiple business and campaign management tools, with ad servers deemed the most important among respondents.

The line between investment and performance is more blurred than ever before, and we lack insight into what’s working and what’s not – leading to increased costs and less control. It takes a village to make programmatic and digital buying work in tandem effectively for your unique business goals.

And, interestingly enough, our survey revealed there’s increasing desire for efficiency and control in the digital workplace. In the next 12 months, 90% of agencies predict they will handle some parts or all of programmatic buying in-house. When asked why they planned to bring programmatic capabilities in-house, respondents ranked control as the biggest deciding factor.

Which begs the question: Why outsource when you could dive into programmatic advertising on your own and begin to take back control?

In this survey, we also took an in-depth look the state of media buyers and planners – specifically the way media teams are being constructed to manage programmatic today, how programmatic management will evolve, and insights into the factors driving programmatic in-house adoption.

To get a comprehensive look at programmatic advertising expectations in 2018, download the full report here.