RTB Reality Check

When it comes to programmatic ad buying, you’ll often get blown away from the big growth numbers.

But it pays to look under the hood at other numbers in order to figure out where machine-based buying is going — and how it’s going to affect the core constituencies of digital media: brands, agencies and publishers.

Accordant Media, an independent trading desk, came out today with its third-quarter report on real-time bidding. It has the big eye-popping numbers, of course — RTB inventory up 88 percent — and that it has some more sobering ones.

  • Ad prices have ticked up just 2 percent year-over-year, even as click rates have increased 33 percent.
  • Just 17 percent of RTB impressions are above the fold, at a time when buyers are demanding their ads be seen.
  • The ability of buyers to get data on ad placement declined from 32 percent to 29 percent.
  • Ad viewability standards “makes more sense in concept than in practice.”

None of this is to say programmatic buying won’t take off. It will. But there is still the question as to whether it will remain the province of direct marketing or move up the chain to a tactic often used by brands — and looked to by quality publishers as something more than a way to offload undesirable ad impressions.

Image via Shutterstock

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