The Top Programmatic Advertising Challenges & How They're Being Addressed [Survey Results]

Programmatic marketing has gained serious traction in the past few years. Naturally, this means the problems that come with it have advanced too.

We asked 100 Heads of Online and Digital Marketing from some of the top advertisers what challenges they’re facing, and how they’re developing their strategies to cope.

With advertisers finding web traffic split across mobiles, computers and other devices, more than 70% have reacted by dividing their programmatic advertising across multiple digital channels to reach more people. It may be as a consequence of this split that the majority of advertisers now rank complexity as first among the challenges they face as programmatic marketers.

To find out more about the priorities of other programmatic marketers, take a look at this year’s line-up for the Programmatic Pioneers Summit in London.


Having too many layers in the eco-system has convoluted the process of advertising programmatically. But it’s not just the need to reach across multiple channels which is complicating matters. Within each channel, advertisers are finding agencies are taking too much control.


Only 35% of respondents have control over their ads at the level of on-page placement, while 18% still only have control at the level of the network or publisher. Advertisers are often cornered into using content provided by agencies, so it follows that inventory quality was the second most pressing challenge with 47% feeling uneasy about the quality of their campaigns.

A major issue for brands wanting to expand their programmatic advertising has been the unwillingness of agencies to share exactly where adverts will go and who sees them. Frequently, adverts are shown below the line or seen predominantly by automated engines, so the view rate is skewed.


In response to this lack of control, 80% of advertisers have brought, or are planning to bring some of their programmatic advertising in-house. Working in house means brands are not only developing a workforce under their direction, but they are also able to reclaim their own data from agencies.

In addition, advertisers can be more selective about who they market to and cut down on the traditional walled-garden costs of media agencies. Bringing programmatics in-house also means advertisers have more control over inventory, instead of relying on what’s provided by agencies.


When asked to rank the most relevant reasons for moving programmatic advertising in-house, the most common reason at 44% was to gain better control of strategy and planning. Clearly, advertisers recognise that there are a lot of reasons to make this move, not least to gain control and simplify the eco-system, and yet very few are currently running programmatic advertising independently.

Our survey indicates a real need for the development of in-house programmatic advertisers. Download the agenda for the Programmatic Pioneers Summit to find out more about how top advertisers are rising to the challenge.

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