Study: half of the money brands invest in programmatic advertising never reaches online

A new study by ISBA has found that half the money advertisers invest in programmatic advertising never reaches online publishers, with 15% of the money unattributable to any players in the supply chain. Half of the money brands spend on online publishers is lost in the programmatic advertising supply chain and 15% cannot be attributed at all. The advertiser-funded research from ISBA, in association with the Association of Online Publishers (AOP) and carried out by PwC, marks the first time that programmatic advertising supply chains have been mapped from end-to-end, anywhere in the world. The study collected data from 15 brands – including Tesco, BT, Unilever and British Airways – eight agencies, five demand side platforms (DSPs), six supply side platforms (SSPs) and 12 publishers, representing approximately PS100m in UK programmatic media spend in total. However, given the study only takes into account disclosed programmatic models, this is a best-case scenario and the figure is likely much higher in the long-tail of publishers and ad tech. It has taken advertisers and publishers nine months to retrieve the data from tech vendors, highlighting the lack of organisation and complexity in the supply chain. “Advertisers and publishers want to share their data, the bit in the middle should be facilitating that,” says PwC partner Sam Tomlinson. IAB CEO Jon Mew adds: “Transparency in digital advertising’s supply chain is critical for its sustainable future and we thank our members for their proactive involvement in this study.