How ISBA and AOP uncovered 15% of ad spend is being lost in programmatic

Analysis of 1.3 billion impressions across 15 advertisers revealed what programmatic supply chains really look like for the first time.

Two years ago, the UK advertiser body ISBA and premium publisher body AOP set out to solve a key business challenge: what do programmatic supply chains really look like?

Previous studies had examined only buy-side data so this would mark the first time programmatic supply chains had been mapped end to end, from advertiser to publisher, with the aim of truly understanding these increasingly complicated supply chains and the monetary amounts assigned to each element.

During the first quarter of 2020, PwC collected data from 15 advertisers, eight agencies, five demand-side platforms, six supply-side platforms and 12 publishers. Of the more than 1.3 billion impressions collected from the participating advertisers, 267 million were served via the study tech vendors to the study publishers.

When PwC matched this data from buy-side to sell-side at the level of individual impression or small groups of impressions, it uncovered industry-changing issues of global importance: there were major challenges with data access and quality, and 15% of spend was disappearing into an unattributable “unknown delta”.

The insights were shared in a comprehensive campaign in an effort to inspire industry change, with the findings presented more than 90 times to advertisers, publishers and industry bodies globally, including the World Federation of Advertisers and US ANA, as well as to the UK government.

A UK industry taskforce, with global support, has since been set up to resolve the data access and data quality issues, which will be followed by exploration and reduction of the 15% unknown delta for the benefit of the industry as a whole.

The landmark piece of research won ISBA, the AOP and PwC the 2021 Marketing Week Masters award for Insight and Market Research.



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