Robin Langford Robin Langford Premium Content Editor, Performance Marketing World

Brand or agency: who’s in charge of supply path optimisation?

Programmatic advertising needs daily care beyond a ‘set it and forget it’ mentality. But should brands or agencies take the lead?


The majority of ad buyers are currently implementing or planning to implement supply path optimisation (SPO) technology to increase the efficiency of their programmatic campaigns across formats and environments. 

Supply path optimisation is the process of reducing the number of intermediaries in the programmatic ad buying process until each is adding value. This can be achieved by identifying and cutting out fraudulent clicks, reducing spend on wasteful platforms and reacting to real-time trends faster. 

Despite its popularity, there is still much to be discussed between brands and agencies about who is responsible for monitoring SPO activities and media quality.

IAS partnered with IPSOS to survey US digital media experts who buy digital ads programmatically to better understand perceptions of programmatic advertising, particularly supply path optimisation. 

Key findings include: 

  • Social video (71 percent), mobile web video (61 percent), and mobile app video (60 percent) formats topped the rankings of formats purchased programmatically. 

  • Only 38 percent of advertisers are currently invested in CTV, while 37 percent are invested in Digital Audio. 

  • Advertisers say a lack of transparency in programmatic (42 percent) is a top challenge, along with increased ad fraud (44 percent) and brand risk (46 percent).

  • 47 percent of brands and 38 percent of agencies agree that brands are responsible for day-to-day SPO activities

  • 29 percent of brands and 38 percent of agencies believe that agencies are responsible for these tasks

Tony Marlow, CMO, IAS, says: “This report showcases that a fundamental shift is underway towards quality path optimisation. Rather than simply focusing on low cost ad inventory within programmatic environments, marketers are carefully deploying SPO strategies to seek high quality media underpinned by efficient investments.”

Programmatic buying continues to grow worldwide – estimated to top $154billion in ad spend in 2021 – more advertisers are tapping into supply path optimisation strategies to achieve better results. 

Video ads dominate programmatic buying, while CTV and Audio are up and coming

The majority of advertisers (52 percent) say that more than half of their advertising budgets are bought programmatically today, while 80 percent say it represents one-third or more of their spend. 

Video ads lead the pack when it comes to programmatic buying, especially in mobile and social environments. Social video (71 percent), mobile web video (61 percent), and mobile app video (60 percent) formats topped the rankings in this survey, while emerging formats including CTV (38 percent) and Digital Audio (37 percent) show there’s still room for growth. 

Benefits abound, but transparency and media quality issues persist for media experts

Advertisers continue to lean into programmatic, with 54 percent saying that maximising audience reach and scale is the primary benefit. However, advertisers say a lack of transparency in programmatic (42 percent) is a top challenge, along with increased ad fraud (44 percent) and brand risk (46 percent). 

In some cases, brands and agencies don’t see eye to eye; nearly 1.5x more agency experts are concerned about increased ad fraud in programmatic than brands. To address concerns around transparency, many industry experts are turning to supply path optimisation strategies for their campaigns. 

SPO strategies are on the rise, but brands and agencies disagree on who’s responsible

60 percent of ad buyers already activate SPO strategies to maximise the efficiency of their campaigns. As these tactics grow, 95 percent of ad buyers will boost their SPO efforts by working with external consultants or supply path verification technologies. 48 percent currently use or plan to implement third-party verification and monitoring technology to control and optimise campaigns toward supply paths with the most cost-efficient, high-quality media. 

While they agree on the opportunity, brands and agencies don’t see eye to eye on who should take responsibility for SPO and media quality. When asked about this, 47 percent of brands and 38 percent of agencies agree that brands are responsible for day-to-day SPO activities; by contrast, 29 percent of brands and 38 percent of agencies believe that agencies are responsible for these tasks. This disconnect highlights the importance of greater alignment between media buyers to fully achieve the benefits of supply path optimisation. 

The Perfecting Your Supply Path: The Expansion of SPO in Programmatic study from IAS surveyed 200 U.S. brands and agencies to better understand perceptions of programmatic advertising and how they activate supply path optimisation strategies.

 

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