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As Two-Thirds Of Programmatic Dollars Don’t Reach Consumers, ANA Says Consider Other Media.

The Association of National Advertisers says marketers should consider other media, like audio, as it releases a new study that finds that only 36 cents of every dollar invested by an advertiser that enters a programmatic sales platform effectively reaches the consumer. The ANA says another 35 cents of every dollar is spent on non-viewable or non-measurable traffic while 29 cents goes toward programmatic platform fees.

The findings are a part of a critical look at how advertisers are spending their money online. The ANA report says media buyers currently using an overabundance of websites, typically using a “spray and pray” strategy of more than 40,000 when they should instead select 75 to 100 trusted programmatic media sellers that will provide access to thousands of high-quality websites to optimize their investment.

The report is a follow-up to its first set of findings released in June, which were just as critical. They showed that brands typically spend 15% of the ads on clickbait websites that are made for advertising and, according to the report, “usually feature low-quality content, such as fake news, conspiracy theories, or spammy links, and may use tactics such as pop-up ads, auto-play videos, or intrusive ads to maximize ad revenue for the site owner.” The now-completed study finds that there is an opportunity for $22 billion in efficiency gains – amounting to one in four dollars spent in the $88 billion open web programmatic marketplace. 

“Clearly, without a comprehensive programmatic media buying strategy and oversight, there are multiple problem spots where brand investments will be irretrievably lost,” ANA CEO Bob Liodice writes in the report. “I was thoroughly amazed at how many leaky buckets there are. What I found even more troubling was the lack of support systems that brands can lean on to make higher-quality decisions. Most senior executives do not know where to look or how to move forward.”

The ANA report lists several recommendations for marketers, including broadening their media horizons. “Look at the different inventory types you buy (display, video, CTV, audio, etc.) and define what ad quality is (or is not) for each,” it says. “There might be a heavier lift on the front end, but once implemented it will be iterative, scalable, and pay for itself,” the report says.

In addition to looking elsewhere and consolidating the number of partners that a marketer works with, the report also recommends brands’ creation inclusion lists focus on which sites to work with rather than attempt what it says would be a “herculean and futile task” of creating exclusion lists from the web’s vast reaches. It also says there are potential advantages to the private marketplaces that some media companies have created, saying some of the inventory that can be found there is “high quality and may be worth the premium price,” even as the days of simply assuming all private marketplace inventory is worth a premium are gone.

The ANA study was conducted between September 2022 and January 2023 working with 21 marketers, including State Farm, Walgreens, Nissan and White Castle. A dozen programmatic companies also participated in the study, including the ad verification companies DoubleVerify and IAS.


Download a copy of the ANA Programmatic Media Supply Chain Transparency Study HERE.

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