The gap is narrowing between programmatic and direct publisher ads. Recent research suggests that media quality is enjoying improvement among programmatic ad buys.
Integral Ad Science noted this trend in its report on media quality for the second half of 2018. Below are some of the IAS’s key findings that make a strong case for programmatic advertising.
Viewability of Programmatic Ads Tops Direct Publisher Ads in Several Categories.
Desktop-displayed programmatic ads enjoyed more seconds in view at two critical benchmarks. The IAS found a little more than 45.8% of all programmatic ads enjoyed five seconds or more in view. In comparison, 44.6% of direct publisher ads experienced similar five-second viewability. Programmatic ads also beat direct publisher ads in 15 seconds-or-more viewability. See the chart below to compare.
Viewability on mobile apps was also better on programmatic ads. More than 62.2% of all programmatic buys were viewable compared to only 60.4% of publisher direct ads.
The Media Ratings Council has two different measures of viewability. A display ad impression is viewable if at least half the pixels appear for one second after an ad renders. Meanwhile for video, an ad must play with at least 50% of its pixels on screen for two-straight seconds.
Video Publishers Begin Moving Away from Direct and Over to Programmatic Ads.
Programmatic ad buys represented 81% of American digital video ad spending in 2018. This is because many premium publishers moved away from the direct ad sales model. Instead, they opted to sell more inventory by programmatic means. As a result, publishers delivered more engaged audiences to advertisers.
From H1 to H2, the average time in view improved in three of four programmatic categories. That figure correlated with a decline in publisher direct inventory. In total, time-in-view averages remained steady throughout the year for all ads.
For reference, time-in-view is the average duration an impression remains visible.
Ad Fraud and Brand Risk Decrease Thanks To Improving Verification Solutions
Fraud is one concern that’s top of mind for most advertisers. According to the IAS, close to 37% of advertisers stated they plan to make ad fraud mitigation a priority in 2019.
Programmatic desktop display ads made the most strides against fraud. Only 2.3% of such ads optimized for fraud were compromised. In comparison, 2.8% of direct publisher ads took a hit.
Despite success on desktop, mobile web display was even better. Less than 1% of ad impressions in mobile campaigns with fraud mitigation had problems.
Along with fraud, brand risk is another area of concern for advertisers. Brands are mindful of impressions on pages associated with several harmful content categories:
Display inventory maintained a positive, downward trend in brand risk. In particular, desktop display brand risk decreased from 9.2% in H1 to 7.3% in H2 of 2018. The IAS found that programmatic ad buys powered this drop.
A Bright Future Ahead for Programmatic Ad Quality
As technology improves, all signs point to continued quality-increases for programmatic ads.
US advertisers are already showing their confidence with their budgets. The IAS noted that US programmatic ad spending totaled about $47.37 billion in 2018. Forecasts expect that figure to keep growing and reach a projected value of $70 billion by 2020.