In an effort to simplify their programmatic advertising efforts, brands could be making a costly mistake.
According to the results of a new study by the advertising technology provider Visto, 84% of brands want to bring their programmatic ad spending in-house as a way to gain more control over what’s become an opaque process. The problem? Visto’s own analysis shows that advertisers who use just one platform are losing out on opportunities to lower inventory costs and efficiently delivery on KPIs.
“There is a notion that DSPs are relatively commoditized—that they all have access to similar inventory, and therefore, if you pick a major DSP, that you’re covered,” says Visto CEO Kerry Bianchi. “Our POV is different; we believe that each buying platform has created differentiation in the tech and bidders they have built, or the relationships they have with different suppliers, that could actually result in a lot more variability. This is what we set out to test.”
Procter & Gamble Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard’s public call for an end to the Mad Men model of advertising has heightened the demands for transparency, particularly in programmatic. With the increased control that comes from moving spending in-house, however, comes a decrease in the number of systems and partners being utilized, and many advertisers right now are struggling to achieve the best performance without over-complicating their ad tech stack.
That’s where Visto’s analysis comes into play. Running from January 20–31, Visto’s test was set up to determine who could produce the greatest return on investment for various formats, buying methods, and sets of goals. The test compared campaigns running through four industry-leading execution platforms accessing premium inventory on 50 publisher properties in 10 metro areas.
“In order to test the variability, we created common buying parameters across all four platforms we tested—keeping audience targets, bids, publisher lists, ad formats, geo-targeting, etc., constant across all vendors,” Bianchi says. “Then we analyzed what came back, and, as we expected, there was actually wide variability between partners.”
What Visto found could be viewed as a setback for the contingent of advertising professionals pushing to move spending in-house. According to Visto’s analysis, no single platform delivered the best results in every scenario. Each platform performed better under different conditions. The test found that the platform with the highest cost doesn’t always yield the best ad quality scores. In fact, in at least one case, the platform with the lowest eCPM had the highest viewability.
“I think we expected there to be variability generally, but to see the wide variability that could happen accessing the exact same publisher—to see how four different platforms accessed supply on the exact same website but had such drastically different costs, ad fraud, and viewability scores—was really eye opening,” Bianchi says.
As advertisers search for ways to enjoy the simplicity of a streamlined stack without giving up budgetary considerations, some have decided that the best solution is to use a single partner. But as the ecosystem continues to expand and advertisers become more omnichannel, or they use more sophisticated tools to manage spending, Bianchi says it has become less tenable to rely on a one-partner strategy.
“There is no doubt that the advertising industry is becoming more data- and tech-driven every day. The good news is it means advertisers have more tools than ever to be hyper-targeted in the way they purchase advertising—to specific audiences, interests, locations, screens, and more,” Bianchi says. “But it also means marketers may need advice, training, or technology to help navigate these widening choices.”
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.