3 Ways the Murky Programmatic Industry Made Strides Toward Progress in 2023

Nonetheless, bid duplication is still widespread, such that any given bid request from an SSP only has a 1% chance of being monetized.

Rooting out low-quality media

New evidence came out this year proving an unsaid truth about programmatic: Low-quality inventory is rampantly available throughout programmatic buying mechanisms, and advertisers are buying it, sometimes inadvertently, but sometimes on purpose.

In response to new research, buyers and ad-tech firms took real action.

In June, the Association of National Advertisers’ first programmatic transparency study found that 15% of ad spend went toward made-for-advertising websites, spammy publishers that aren’t fully fraud but do not publish content designed to be read, merely landing pages to monetize.

Following this research, several SSPs worked to limit their supply of MFA this year, and GroupM launched an initiative to protect advertisers against this inventory. Four trade bodies came to a definition of MFA sites so the industry can be united on how to find these publishers and avoid them.

Additionally, a slew of research from ad-tech research firm Adalytics found quality issues within Google’s vast inventory, including YouTube ads ending up in low-quality placements and on kids’ channels, even though advertisers wanted to be in neither location, and search ads landing on pornographic, sanctioned and pirated websites.  

Google denied Adalytics’ allegations, but instead of shrugging their shoulders, many buyers redirected their YouTube spending strategies to avoid the unsavory pockets of inventory that Adalytics surfaced. And later, when buyers learned that they couldn’t avoid placing their ads on potentially low-quality search partner network sites via Google’s AI-driven buying tool, Performance Max, the platform abruptly let them, responding to buyer demands.

Still, previous solutions to ensure thoughtful media buying, like viewability and private marketplaces, have not fully solved the internet’s quality problem and may have even exacerbated it. And buyers continue to be frustrated with transparency on Google.

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