The Lumascape (see below) was created as a means to help people understand who does what in display advertising.

However, when I look at it, it just gives me a headache!

The digital advertising marketplace is a confusing myriad of players with potentially overlapping and conflicting roles, each jostling for a slice of the pie and adding another layer of complexity. But why has it ended up being this way?


Ironically, many of the solutions in the marketplace had the original aim of adding clarity and usability for the end user. However, as many of these have been created and owned by technology companies rather than marketers, most of them have unfortunately added to the chaos – clarity of messaging not necessarily being the strong point for many technologists.

Different solutions have been created with a variety of technology platforms, and with different end users or objectives in sight. There have been a number of acquisitions and mergers too which have led to more industry players claiming they can do everything. In reality, though, smoke and mirrors are a major element in many of these offerings – and this is never going to help in terms of creating greater transparency or clarity!

For advertisers, trying to find the right partners to help them get the best value from their campaigns can be a minefield; especially when one person’s definition of a DSP, DMP or SSP (or any number of other acronyms) seems to vary wildly from another. This is why so many brands have ended up wasting so much of their online advertising budget.

To get one impression in front of a consumer, they are typically using a raft of agencies, suppliers and middlemen who all take a cut for what they do – and often the advertiser doesn’t even know the whole picture of who is involved in the supply chain.

The fact that these third parties are paid with percentage-of-media pricing also doesn’t help as this means they are being rewarded for high volume, rather than quality of impression. Just as worrying, is the fact that advertisers are also often unlikely to know where the impression was seen, and by whom.

So, ultimately, the reason why display advertising is creating such a mammoth headache for advertisers is twofold:

1. There are simply too many parties involved in the ecosystem;

2. This has led to a lack of transparency which has hidden from advertisers the truth about where their digital advertising spend is really going and how they can maximise the efficiency of their campaigns.

These are huge issues which signal that it is time for advertisers to totally rethink how they carry out, and pay for, their digital advertising. A growing awareness amongst advertisers around the issues hampering campaign effectiveness is leading to a move towards the adoption of Enterprise Advertising Management Systems (EAMS). These enable the advertiser to bring their programmatic buying in-house so that they can control their entire online advertising spend through a single platform. As a result, the whole process is streamlined, requiring no additional intermediaries apart from, potentially, the planning arm of their media or ad agency.

The advertiser pays the technology vendor a flat licensing fee for managing the whole process for them – so they know up front what this will be – and the rest of the advertising budget goes purely on the ad placement cost.  There are no hidden supplier or arbitrage costs.

This enables brands to have total transparency and control around where their ads are going and who is seeing them, with quality controls such as stringent frequency capping and anti-fraud technology also built in to optimise ad serving and audience viewing.

However, it’s not just about the money. By bringing their programmatic buying in-house with an EAMS, advertising and brand managers are also revolutionising their work day too. They can turn their PC on in the morning and see a clear, real time view of their ad campaign through their dashboard. By being served with a clear picture of what’s working and what’s not, they can adapt campaigns instantly, making it possible to improve results with less campaign management time. This then frees them up to spend more time on strategy and planning.

Could this mean that we are finally seeing the demise of the Lumascape as we know it? As you can see below, with an EAMS in place, the mess in the middle is no longer needed. With less parties involved, advertisers regain much of the control they’ve lost and there is a closer relationship between the advertiser, publisher and consumer. Surely that has to be a good thing?:


I believe one of the greatest skills in ad tech is the ability to cut through the complexity and make things simpler.  As more advertisers adopt the enterprise model, it seems that this is something that is being recognised and appreciated by others too.

And those Lumascape-induced headaches?

Maybe Enterprise Advertising Management Systems could be called ‘Programmatic Paracetamol’.

Mark Connolly

Mark Connolly


Mark Connolly is Chief Revenue Officer & VP International at Audience Science.