We all agree that we require quality from our media supply. With more and more impressions available programmatically every day, it is imperative that, as an industry, we are always looking for more effective ways of ensuring this supply is of the quality we expect, and that our brands require.

Quality in supply can cover several aspects; content, clutter and brand safety, as well as viewabilty and fraud. Ensuring an ad both appears in the right environment and is seen by a human are two key requirements to achieve quality, whilst also ensuring that our ads have as little competition as possible. It is imperative that all media buyers use quality as a measure to quantify that the ads they place have had the best opportunity possible to make an impact on the consumer.

Of course, these issues are not exclusive to programmatic, but present challenges for the entire digital advertising industry as a whole. However, what sets programmatic apart is having the tools and technology in place to measure these important factors in campaigns, due to the accountability and real-time technology that is used in programmatic buying. The industry has moved on significantly from the days when programmatic was largely seen as a way of buying cheap remnant inventory. Through the rise of Private Marketplaces (PMPs) and header bidding, we can now buy across 90% plus of UK inventory, and agencies dealing in programmatic need the tools and techniques that improve quality to ensure they are buying the best inventory within that huge scale.

While the rise in programmatic does raise certain challenges, there are undoubtedly rewards which advertisers can take advantage of. For instance, a leading premium network recently commented that ‘the rapid adoption of new technology will continue for many publishers throughout 2017, as many have gone through implementation and are already working differently with clients. The biggest advantage for advertisers is the ability for publishers to offer price priority within the ad-server, which enables PMPs (deal ID) to have access to the most premium inventory, which traditionally was reserved for direct IO bookings.’

In the past couple of years, we have seen the growth of verification tools available to help agencies and clients measure and manage media quality. With such growth, media agencies should demand transparency from their partners to facilitate understanding of quality and support campaign delivery. As we move further into 2017 and the market for ad verification and transparent campaign management starts to mature, it is important to look ahead and consider the major issues surrounding media quality, and how best we can address them as an industry.

There is a plethora of different views on the subject. For instance, James Patterson from The Trade Desk predicts that, ‘Media quality will continue to be a focus, but publishers and buying platforms have strict measures in place to ensure the consumer has a high quality brand experience. This will lead to a decline in fraud and adblocking and a continued rise in viewable, targeted one-to-one advertising. Successful brands will also use more first party data to inform their buying strategy to be able to ‘personalise’ their messaging to consumers.’

Meanwhile, Ryan Skeggs, Head of Programmatic at Bauer, believes that, ‘ad clutter will come down, and publishers will move to a ‘less is more’ approach to ensure ads are highly viewable’. This is already a reality in the making; Bauer is in process of re-platforming all titles, and will go from having seven ads per page to three. Such an approach can help to drive a huge increase in viewability of ads, with Bauer reporting an uplift form 30% to 83% since trailing this new platform.

This unanimous drive for better quality and transparency, using insight both from the tools we use and the partners we work with, should give brands the confidence that their investment in this approach to buying digital activity will help them deliver tangible business goals. This approach is the backbone for the way all media, not just display or social, is going to be bought in the future. To avoid falling behind, the wider industry must embrace these changes and push for greater efficiency.

James Hudson

James Hudson


James Hudson, Head of Digital, Zenith.