NBC Universal is going to start allowing big advertisers to automate the placement of some of their ads through the use of an API. What this means in practice is that brands will be able to use data they have on which shows their target customers are likely to watch to select exactly when their ads will play on the various NBCU channel. Despite the obvious similarity to automated ad buying online, this is going to be far from a free-for-all: it’s starting with one partner (Target) and this will presumably be limited to big, established brands, and will certainly involve pre-approval of all the actual creative to be shown to viewers. But it’s yet another front in the ongoing war between online ad platforms and the TV companies, with the latter constantly aping the former’s techniques while claiming to be superior in other ways. The reality is that every big brand is going to advertise in both places, and Facebook is now actively pursuing a strategy of trying to tie those two channels together at a measurement level, which feels more realistic than the TV companies’ denial that the online platforms offer anything of value to advertisers.
via Business Insider
Amazon Grows Self-Serve Tools for Advertisers (Aug 29, 2017)
A study from MediaRadar, reported here by Adweek, suggests that the number of advertisers buying programmatic ads dropped by 12% year on year, while the number spending on native ads rose 74% year on year. The latter is very much in line with a longer-term trend towards native advertising, which looks more like the content in or between which it is embedded, but the former is more newsworthy. The most likely reason appears to be the worries over automatically-placed ads showing up next to undesirable content on YouTube and through Google’s AdSense earlier this year. I said at the time the YouTube boycott began that, although the backlash was publicly aimed at Google’s properties, it was likely to affect programmatic buying generally as brands became more concerned about a lack of control over which content their ads would show up next to, and this is a bit of evidence that confirms that hunch. The two formats discussed here – native and programmatic – needn’t, of course, be mutually exclusive, and as an example Google’s recently introduced mobile ad formats could potentially be bought programmatically while being designed to appear as native ads on various sites. But programmatic buying itself, while Google has explicitly called out as one of a small number of major factors driving its ad performance in recent quarters, looks to be heading for a bit of a setback as at least some brands re-evaluate whether to use it.
Almost 20% of digital ad spending could be wasted – Axios (Mar 22, 2017)
The first thing I thought of when I saw this headline was the famous quote from John Wanamaker about half his advertising dollars being wasted, but not knowing which half (and Sara Fischer told me she had included a reference to it, but removed it for brevity’s sake). The difference here is that the “waste” referred to isn’t poorly targeted advertising, but fraud and “invalid traffic” – in other words, ads that no-one sees at all but which are nonetheless recorded as having been seen and therefore paid for. Fraud – especially in programmatic, where 29% of dollars are apparently wasted – is one of several big issues for online advertising at the moment, and it isn’t going away soon, even though the authors of this report have a proposed solution.