Interactive Advertising Bureau
06 October 2021

IAB Europe Releases Annual Programmatic Research on Drivers, Barriers and Operating Models

Research reveals that despite the pandemic, programmatic investments have remained stable in Europe, with programmatic video being a key driver for growth.

80% of buy and sell-side stakeholders predict an increase in programmatic investment revenues over the next 12 months.

Brussels, 6th October, IAB Europe, the leading European-level industry association for the digital marketing and advertising ecosystem, today announced the results of its annual ‘Attitudes to Programmatic Advertising 2021 Study’.

Now in its seventh year, this study has become an industry benchmark to show how programmatic advertising attitudes, adoption and strategies are evolving. The responses came from close to 300 advertisers, agencies, publishers and ad tech vendors in 31 markets with respondents having both pan-European and Global remits. More than three quarters of the respondents manage annual advertising budgets of €1m or above.

The latest research revealed that, despite the global COVID-19 pandemic, programmatic advertising investments remained fairly stable with growth occurring in areas such as programmatic video. In programmatic video, Connected TV remains key to further investment spurred on by shifting consumer viewing habits. In 2021 19% of advertisers allocated between 21-40% of their programmatic trading budget in connected TV.

Commenting on the growth of CTV, Lisa Kalyuzhny, RVP, Advertiser Solutions, EMEA, PubMatic said: “A lot of CTV transactions occur within curated private marketplaces (PMPs). These premium, private, curated environments give publisher sales teams greater control as to how they structure deals and provide buyers with the assurance that their campaigns are running against brand-safe content. Furthermore, PMP deals give marketers and publishers the opportunity to see the true value exchange for their investment and tailor their programmatic strategy and partnership to meet campaign and business goals.”

In terms of investment drivers, ‘better use of data’ still prevails as a key accelerator across both the buy and sell-side for all stakeholders.

“This data underlines that marketing spend is now predominantly shifting to programmatic as many more channels open up to automated, digital forms of advertising. Marketers simply want to know their budgets are being used effectively to positively shift consumers' perceptions of a brand and to drive sales, regardless of whether they buy media programmatically or non-programmatically. The changes to ways of buying, creative formats as well as the data used to target and measure campaigns, means programmatic is no longer seen as a way to simply buy long-tail, remnant inventory as it has been in the past. What has changed, predominantly in response to consumer and legislative concerns around data privacy, is the way in which data is collected and managed. We are seeing a rising shift to solutions that are based on accountable, consent based relationships with consumers, which provides me with hope. It is by aligning with consumer expectations of a fair and transparent value exchange, as well as providing ever-better creative digital solutions as technology and connectivity changes, that we will be able to build sustainable marketing practices for the future." commented Anita Caras, Research Director EMEA, Yahoo!

Gaining access to premium inventory at scale also saw substantial growth as a driver from 20% in 2020 to 50% in 2021 amongst advertisers. This highlights the importance of solutions for advertisers that allow them to connect with mass audiences in premium environments and meet campaign objectives.

Looking at the barriers to programmatic adoption, supply chain transparency dropped as the primary concern for advertisers from 60% in 2020 to 25% in 2021 suggesting that the industry is making significant paths to enhancing transparency on the buy-side. It is not surprising then that the research highlights an increase in the adoption of standards such as App ads.txt, Sellers.json, Buyers.json, Supply Path Object, Demand Path Object, among both agencies and advertisers. Advertisers are now more concerned about identifying the financial benefits of programmatic, with 46% stating that understanding the impact of programmatic trading on total revenue represented a significant barrier.

Commenting on the value of the research and the action being taken to overcome barriers to programmatic investment, David Goddard, VP Business Development, DoubleVerify and Chair, IAB Europe Programmatic Trading Committee, said “The IAB Europe Attitudes to Programmatic study provides critical insight into the key concerns, opportunities and overall direction of programmatic advertising across Europe. It enables the Programmatic Trading Committee, and the wider industry, to devise strategies based on insight from advertisers, agencies, publishers and ad tech vendors. This year, it is encouraging to see that action has been taken, and, amongst buy-side stakeholders, the concern around supply chain transparency has decreased while the adoption of key industry standards has increased. There are still clear concerns, however, that need to be addressed -- especially the steep rise in Brand Safety as a barrier to investment -- which highlights that all stakeholders need to continue to collaborate to make our ecosystem stronger, safer and more secure.”

When it comes to the topic of In-housing, the trend saw some decline in 2020 but is back and on the rise again in 2021; 50% of advertisers stated they have an in-house model for programmatic trading compared to 20% in 2020. This was 68% for agencies compared to 50% in 2020. This is mainly driven by the desire for increased control of operations, first-party data management and greater transparency on where campaigns run.

The last 18 months have certainly been challenging for the advertising industry. But in spite of that and as the economy recovers, more than 80% of all stakeholders predict an increase in their programmatic investments / revenues over the next 12 months.

IAB Europe will be exploring the insights of this report in more depth in our Virtual Programmatic Day on the 11th of November, register here to secure your free place.
IAB Europe is also hosting a free Virtual CTV event on 21st October, register here to secure your free place.

Download the report here

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