Agency/Marketer Trust in the Programmatic Era: Has Progress Been Made?

By The Myers Report Archives
Cover image for  article: Agency/Marketer Trust in the Programmatic Era: Has Progress Been Made?

Is the cold winter of distrust between agencies and marketers beginning to thaw? The first decade of programmatic was not pretty. In addition to all the confusion, ad fraud, brand safety, viewability, and hidden tech fee concerns, a tremendous amount of trust was lost between advertisers and agencies. In October 2018, the ANA published an oft-quoted report that indicated a new wave of clients is bringing media — in particular programmatic — in-house, with 78 percent of their membership claiming to have an in-house agency.

The Myers Report 2020 Supply Chain Study of Advertisers and Agencies indicates that we may be past the low point in agency and client relationships; at least as far as programmatic media is concerned.

Seventy-two percent of total advertiser respondents expressed satisfaction with their media agency's programmatic buying capabilities. There is still some ground to be made up with the largest marketers. Sixty-four percent of Fortune 200 companies expressed satisfaction with their media agency capabilities versus 80 percent of Fortune 201–500 companies.

It does not appear, though, that the issue with the Fortune 200 companies is trust. It's likely more on the execution side.

When we asked advertisers if they believe that agencies have advertiser's best interest as a top priority when they buy their programmatic media, an overwhelming 76 percent of Fortune 200 companies and 62 percent of Fortune 201–500 companies answered, "Yes."

What elements are helping agencies win back this trust? Outside of the renegotiated client contracts that prioritize financial transparency, there has been a move away from open exchange inventory towards private marketplaces, which leads to a feeling that agencies are more on top of where ads play.

From our data we can see that, while the Fortune 201–500 companies have greater satisfaction with the functional capabilities of their agency's adtech, there is still a bit of lingering doubt about priorities. Yet, those who believe that their agency has their best interest at heart still represent a majority of respondents. And with the largest marketers in the ecosystem, there is both satisfaction in the tools and a belief in the agency role.

Yet, there remains a significant cloud over the whole programmatic business.

Our report shows consistency between both advertiser and agency leaders: The buy-side of the industry is not convinced that programmatic has moved past the problems that have plagued it — with 49 percent of advertisers and 53 percent of agency leaders saying that it has not moved past those issues.

A large part of this problem is based on a comfort level with the types of inventory and data sources being purchased via programmatic. Fifty-six percent of advertiser respondents said they are still not comfortable with the transparency in the supply chain — and 48 percent of agency respondents concurred. This, in part, is one of the reasons private marketplaces are gaining in popularity and, for many marketers, the sole way that they will transact programmatically. Fifty-nine percent of respondents to our survey said they use a private marketplace for programmatic.

Although it seems illogical, given the high levels of doubt in programmatic, the momentum towards this buying method seems to be a bit past the point of no return. Our research says that 86 percent of advertisers and 79 percent of agency leaders will be increasing their spend on programmatic, with the highest number of respondents in both cohorts saying they will increase between 6 and 25 percent. Only 8 percent of advertisers and 7 percent of agency leaders say that they plan to decrease programmatic spend.

Advertisers and agencies seemed to have achieved greater alignment around programmatic, in conjunction with a more mature understanding and approach by publishers. Many of those publishers are embracing industry initiatives such as TAG (Trustworthy Accountability Group), ads.txt, and Ad-ID — so we will continue to see a trend of greater trust in the entire programmatic ecosystem.

MediaVillage members have access to the full report, The Myers Report 2020 Media Supply Chain Study. If you believe you are a member or to request membership details, contact Mark Altschuler, John Bishop or Jack Myers.

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