Programmatic Advertising: Past and Present

IAB Europe conducted an unusual study of user attitudes towards the market for programmatic advertising in Europe. What results did we get? 

Have we received answers to the main questions: what are the motives of advertisers, publishers and agencies that encourage them to invest in this segment? Which formats are preferred? And which operating models, and most importantly – why?, are quickly gaining popularity? What is most often acquired?



Analytics and Facts


The report on the study was compiled on the basis of online interviews with current advertisers, including advertising agencies and publishers, as well as suppliers of various advertising technologies.

The IAB report indicates that programmatic placement is gaining popularity in the advertising business. Financial resources invested in this segment of advertising are constantly growing. The number of advertisers buying over 41% of mobile and display inventory has increased dramatically in just the last few years. But at the same time, the share of users purchasing more than 41 percent of video equipment has decreased.



The following clear trends are also observed:


  • significantly increased the number of sites that automate sales of mobile and display forms. Compared to 2018, in 2019 the share of publishers increased from 30 to 48 percent. And the share of advertisers, agencies that purchase inventory increased by 1%.
  • The share of publishers purchasing video placement has halved, the share of agencies working through programmers with video inventory has fallen to 50% from 55%. But at the same time, purchases of video equipment increased in the share of advertisers: from 32% in 2018 to 55% in 2019.
  • The report notes that the cost of buying native advertising remains low. About 24% of all players do not allocate funds for native promotion at all. The largest percentage of players (74% – agencies, 49% – publishers, 52% – advertisers) spend only 20% of their budget on native placement.

Major drivers and barriers


The drivers and the main barriers associated with programmatic advertising are following:

  • for several years, the number of users who believe that the main driver of programmatic promotion is price has decreased by twice;
  • Users highly appreciate the ability to work with large amounts of data. It was thanks to this ability, which became the motivation for investments, that programmatic advertising several years ago came under close attention of advertisers and agencies;
  • Only one fourth of advertisers are of the opinion that audience involvement in the programmatic placement video format matters. Although in 2017, this format was among the top drivers for investing in the segment.

According to advertisers, the main obstacle that prevents the market from getting investments is considered to be an incomplete picture of the impact of programmatic advertising on revenue. The second barrier is supply transparency as well as brand security.


Most agencies have difficulties in recruiting staff and evaluating the impact of programmatic advertising on total revenue. More than 30 percent of companies believe that the barrier is data quality and the need for staff training. For 34% of companies, barriers are supply transparency and traffic generated.


For most publishers, vendors, ad automation is constrained by recruiting complexity and supply transparency. According to publishers, training is also a problem. In addition, suppliers are afraid of getting traffic.

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