Saturday, February 24, 2024

Other Stories

Related Posts

Programmatic and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day: Did We Cause It?

Programmatic advertising is kinda like that shifty character in a noir film, lurking in the shadows, whispering sweet nothings about efficiency and reach. 

But have we, the intrepid advertisers of the digital age, finally called its bluff? Is it time to say, “Programmatic, darling, your days of smoke and mirrors are over”? Well, strap in, because this is a tale of transparency, or rather, the scandalous lack thereof.

Picture this: the US Association of National Advertisers (ANA) drops a report. Not just any report, but a 125-page doorstopper that reads like a tragicomedy of how a staggering $88 billion is frittered away in the labyrinthine world of programmatic advertising. A quarter of that spend is as wasteful as a chocolate teapot. 

What a spectacle!
But wait, let’s add a twist of lime to this already zesty story. The programmatic supply chain, ladies and gentlemen, is an enigma wrapped in a riddle, shrouded in mystery. Imagine a bazaar at midnight, where the only light comes from a flickering neon sign, casting long shadows over a labyrinth of stalls. That’s the programmatic marketplace for you. What’s on offer, you ask? Ah, that’s the million-dollar question! Fees and inventory sources are as elusive as a cat in a pitch-black room. You think you’ve got a grip on them, but whoosh, they slip away, leaving you grasping at straws.

Now, let’s talk sunlight – not the warm, comforting kind, but the searing, disinfecting blaze that exposes every nook and cranny. In the murky waters of programmatic buying, such clarity is desperately needed. We’ve been navigating through fog, guessing at the shape of things, but what we need is a high-beam flashlight to show us the real deal. Upfront disclosure of fees, you say? Absolutely! Let’s see the price tags on these mysterious wares. Knowing where our ad dollars are going should be as straightforward as reading a menu in a diner, not like decoding the Rosetta Stone.

But here’s the kicker – it’s not just about shining a light; it’s about what lurks in the shadows. In this shadowy bazaar, not all merchants are what they seem. Some stalls are bright and welcoming, offering quality goods at fair prices. But then, there are the others – the ones tucked away in the corners, where the light doesn’t reach. These are the purveyors of low-quality inventory, the hidden fees maestros, the masters of digital sleight of hand. They thrive in the darkness, in the confusion. It’s high time we brought these shadowy figures into the light, scrutinized their wares, and demanded better. Only then can we cleanse this bazaar of its murkiness and turn it into a marketplace we can trust.

Ah, the middlemen – the resellers. These characters are as familiar to us as the back of our smartphones, their presence ubiquitous in every trade publication we flip through. They’re like the gatekeepers of a secret garden, only this garden is filled with digital ad slots and not-so-magical mysteries. We see them, alright, with their glossy ads and their polished pitches, promising efficiency and simplicity. But when it comes to answering the hard questions, they’re as slippery as eels. Their silence is louder than any billboard, raising more red flags than a bullfight.

Now, let’s entertain a radical, almost revolutionary thought: what if we bypass these suave middlemen altogether? Imagine a world where advertisers and publishers dance directly, without needing a chaperone. It’s like cutting out the broker when buying a house – direct negotiations, clear terms, no hidden fees. Platforms have been pushing us towards these resellers like overzealous matchmakers, but maybe it’s time we take control of our own dating life. Direct dealings could mean more transparency, better control over where our ads go, and, crucially, less money vanishing into the nebulous world of reseller fees.

But here’s the catch – these middlemen don’t just fade into the background. They’ve nestled themselves comfortably into the fabric of programmatic advertising, becoming as essential as an overpriced coffee in a marketer’s day. The idea of bypassing them might sound as far-fetched as a day without emails. Yet, the potential benefits are too significant to ignore. By dealing directly, we could tailor our campaigns with surgical precision, ensuring our ads land in the right spots, not just where the resellers deem fit. It’s about taking the reins, steering our digital chariots towards a future where control and clarity reign supreme, and the murky waters of programmatic become as clear as a mountain spring.


But why should we stop at just exposing the middlemen? The murky waters of programmatic advertising need thorough cleansing, and for that, two substantial steps are critical. The first step is all about bringing transparency to ad placements and pricing. We’ve been blindly throwing our ads into the digital abyss, hoping they land somewhere impactful. This needs to change. We’re in a golden age of data and analytics, yet, ironically, many of us are still navigating in the dark regarding where our ads actually end up. No more blurry insights or guesswork; clear and transparent reporting should be the standard.

The next step is about democratizing the Demand Side Platforms (DSPs). This is about breaking down barriers and opening up opportunities for advertisers who have the know-how and ambition to take the reins. Instead of being shoehorned into working with intermediaries, these advertisers should be able to dive directly into the DSPs. It’s like removing a layer of bureaucracy to streamline the process, making it more efficient and potentially more cost-effective.

Adopting this direct approach could be transformative for the industry. It would enable advertisers to tailor their campaigns more precisely, ensuring that their ads are seen by the right eyes, in the right context. This level of control could lead to more effective campaigns and better use of ad budgets. After all, who better to make decisions about where ads should appear than the people who know their audience best?

However, implementing these changes won’t be a walk in the park. There’s a certain comfort in the status quo, and shaking that up requires courage and commitment. The current system, with its layers of intermediaries and lack of transparency, has been the norm for too long. But just because something is familiar doesn’t mean it’s effective. It’s time for a change.

This shift towards transparency and control in programmatic advertising isn’t just beneficial for advertisers; it’s a win for the entire ecosystem. When ads are placed more strategically, not only do advertisers get better returns on their investment, but the audience also receives more relevant and engaging content. It’s a move towards a more respectful and value-driven approach to digital advertising.


So, did we kill programmatic? Not at all. What we’re doing is akin to shaking a sleeping giant awake. It’s time to demand that this lumbering beast of a system straightens its back and starts walking the straight line. We’re not in the business of demolishing; rather, we’re in the workshop, chiseling away at the rough edges, refining, and reshaping. This is about infusing the system with accountability, transparency, and efficiency. Programmatic advertising, as we know it, is poised for a renaissance, and we’re the artists at the easel. Our mission? To transform this murky, imprecise art form into a portrait of clarity and effectiveness. It’s not just a makeover; it’s a rebirth. The potential for a truly remarkable turnaround story is right at our fingertips – and who isn’t a sucker for a good redemption tale?

But let’s not mince words here – this isn’t just about polishing up a few rough spots. There’s a need to expose and, if necessary, excise the unsavory elements that have long lurked in the shadows of programmatic advertising. We’re talking about the shifty companies that contribute nothing but fraud and inflated prices, the parasites that feed on the system, bloating it and making it unwieldy. They’re not just a nuisance; they’re a threat, a contagion that makes the entire ecosystem sick. By allowing these entities to operate unchecked, we’re not just hurting our wallets; we’re undermining the very fabric of the digital advertising world. It’s time to shine a spotlight on these bad actors, to call them out and hold them accountable. In doing so, we’re not just cleaning house; we’re safeguarding the future of programmatic advertising, ensuring it’s a tool that serves us all, efficiently and effectively. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work – the health of our industry depends on it.

Pesach Lattin
Pesach Lattinhttp://www.adotat.com
Pesach "Pace" Lattin is one of the top experts in interactive advertising, affiliate marketing. Pesach Lattin is known for his dedication to ethics in marketing, and focus on compliance and fraud in the industry, and has written numerous articles for publications from MediaPost, ClickZ, ADOTAS and his own blogs.

What's your opinion?

Popular Articles

Don't Miss