Machines may be taking over the buying of online ad space – with one study showing programmatic techniques account for £1bn of spend – but half of them are never even seen, new research claims.
According to European ad verification company Meetrics, the number of online ads served in the UK which met official IAB and Media Ratings Council’s (MRC) recommendations fell from 56% in Q2 2014 to 49% in Q2 this year.
The company calculates that £485m worth of online ads have never even been seen. And the official recommendations are hardly stringent – the IAB and MRC say that an ad is considered viewable if 50% of it is in view for just one second.
The UK figure of 49% is well below that of Germany (64%) and France (62%), where automated ad buying techniques, such as programmatic, are less dominant.
A recent IAB study showed that 45% of UK display ads were bought programmatically in 2014, up from 28% in 2013. The IAB predicted this will rise to 70-80% by 2018.
Meetrics’ director of international business Anant Joshi warned that although programmatic brings many benefits to advertisers “there’s a flip side to every coin”.
He added: “It’s certainly less transparent than buying directly and there’s also a big question mark about the quality of much of the inventory sold this way and, clearly, that most of it never ends up being seen.”
“It’s vital that agencies, on behalf of their advertiser clients, demand more accountability from the vendors and middle men used to buy their media. One way is to ensure any vendors are rubber-stamped by Jicwebs that they meet industry-agreed standards for online ad trading.”
The report also showed that “leaderboards” were the least viewable (40%) ad format while “billboards” (68%) and “skyscrapers” (60%) were the most viewable. For ads that met the one second viewability rule, the average time these ads were in view was 29.5 seconds.
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