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ANA Programmatic Study: from 'car boot sale' to department store

05 Dec 2023 | Nick Manning


If the programmatic market resembles a car boot sale, as the latest ANA study published today suggests, then a more robust approach by advertisers and a flight to quality of execution should enhance the market’s status.

Normally at this time of year there are reports of ‘Winter Wonderlands’ that don’t live up to their promise.

The operator of one of these ended up in jail, with the immortal words of the judge ringing in their ears: “You said you would go through the magical tunnel of light coming out in a winter wonderland. What you actually provided was something that looked like an averagely managed summer car boot sale.”

A similar sense of being short-changed could apply to the Open Web programmatic display market.

The promise of a data-led nirvana where technology could identify in milliseconds the right browsing audience for your brand or product with relevant messaging.

What could possibly go wrong? Well, quite a lot actually, according to a report published today by the US Association of National Advertisers about the state of the programmatic ad market.

Finally, a full end-to-end report

Usually after a bad experience we avoid being short-changed again by steering clear of the people doing it.

But for the last decade or so advertisers have been systematically relieved of large swathes of their budgets for little return day-in, day-out. This happened mostly because they expected their chosen partners to stop it from happening but they didn’t.

There has been plenty of proof of advertisers being short-changed dating back to the original WFA study in 2014 and several others since, notably from ISBA/PwC; these have identified the amount of budget that reaches the publisher after the various agency and adtech providers have taken their cut, but they did not report on arguably the most important part, i.e. the ad exposure itself.

The argument was that the high transaction and data costs (up to 50% of budget) were justified by the precision and effectiveness of the audience thus reached.

Now, for the first time, we have a full end-to-end report on the value loss for advertisers across the whole Open Web supply-chain, uniquely including the sharp end of where the advertising appeared (or didn’t).


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