comScore on what programmatic means for publishers

Programmatic advertising is big business. The Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) latest digital ad-spend report was released last week and it shows a record £7.2bn was spent on digital advertising in the UK alone in 2014. With display and now mobile advertising leading the pack, programmatic is a large part of this growth.  

But what’s big business for publishers is also big business for brands, and increasingly big business for the myriad of independent ad networks and trading exchanges growing up around the industry. With so much at stake in the new gold rush for online eyeballs, Jamie Gavin spoke to Mike Shaw, comScore’s VP of media sales, at our Digital Innovators’ Summit last month in Berlin, to find out more about what the growth in programmatic advertising means for the future of publishers. 

comScore is a useful voice in a sea of competing factions because it provides a more objective view of the industry. Where publishers talk premium and exchanges talk scale, comScore seeks only to quantify the value of ads and validate the consumer experience. For the full four minute video simply click play above but for those looking for a few nuggets, we have highlighted some critical ‘on-demand’ points for you below. 

Is there currently a problem with programmatic? (0:36)

“Is [programmatic] fuelling the growth in advertising? Absolutely. Programmatic makes advertising easier to buy and sell. It essentially reduces friction in the purchasing process. But the issue with programmatic is that it often blurs the price that is being paid versus the price that should be being paid, and the quality that’s actually being delivered through the medium.” 

Is programmatic good for publishers? And are publishers good for programmatic for that matter!? (1:19)

“The publisher data and the ability to understand more about audiences that are behind the impressions about to be delivered is HUGELY important. It’s one of the things that will ultimately drive more trust in the environment as more digital ads are more effective because they are hitting the right audiences in contextually relevant environments.”

Could publishers be doing it better? (2:00)

“In terms of the big thing that publishers are doing wrong right now: lots of it is not having a well thought out strategy for programmatic. The amount of inventory traded programmatically isn’t necessarily set at the right levels – often it should be more, sometimes it should be less. And secondly the pricing on which that inventory is traded often leaves a lot of money on the table for the publishers. So a coherent strategy around the inventory they have, and then backing that value up with the data to prove it is really one of the key priorities publishers should be focussing on.”

Programmatic: friend or foe? (2:36) 

“Overall programmatic is going to be here to stay. Publishers should accept it as a new way of buying, rather than necessarily a race to the bottom in pricing.” 

And finally, are media research companies – like comScore – evolving their methodology to better measure programmatic advertising? (3:03)

“You’re absolutely right it does have to be done differently and it has to evolve. And the way comScore is really looking at this is to move the data from comScore’s proprietary reporting systems into the places that Media Planners and buyers are actually trading for digital. So comScore’s recently announced Industry Trust initiative means that we’ll be putting data around viewability, brand safety, non-human traffic, and ultimately audience and demographics through trading platforms.” 

The message coming from comScore is clear: programmatic is here to stay and it can reap huge benefits when approached with the right attitude and in the right way. As programmatic is helping fuel huge growth in display and mobile across the wider digital ecosystem, so too it can be a huge propeller of future growth online for premium content publishers.

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