Publishers are not making full use of programmatic technology, with just one in four regularly translating data analysis into sales initiatives.

The minority of publishers that are moving away from a traditional ‘direct sales’ approach - inventory sold to agencies and advertisers at an agreed upon-price and number of ad views – are increasing revenues and putting themselves in good stead for a ‘long-term competitive advantage’.

These statements form part of a Google-commissioned study of 25 publishers, surveying the use of the technology, which automates the selling and delivery process of ad inventory, across multiple segments of the industry.

While participating companies were kept anonymous, ‘in-depth operational workshops’ revealed only a small portion of companies were organising themselves to realise the most value from their programmatic efforts. 

One company in the study built programmatic revenue to ‘more than 50%’ of its digital revenue.

Exploiting the tech

But in an industry of estimated $9bn worth, growing almost 30% a year, with less than 25% of programmatic ‘team time’ spent on value-creating activities most companies are not exploiting the massive opportunity. 

That’s according to Paul Zwillenberg, co-author of the report and partner of surveyors The Boston Consulting Group.  

“It’s clear that publishers that lack a coherent cross-channel strategy”, says Zwillenberg: ”Including an aggressive programmatic capability, leave money on the table today and risk loss of revenue, commoditisation of inventory, and lower market share in the future.”

Publishers positioning themselves to deliver value to their advertisers in the market will both increase near term revenues, argues Zwillenberg, and hold ‘a big and growing advantage over their competitors as the digital market grows and evolves’.

Companies outperforming in the study were found to be employing well-defined ‘cross-channel data-driven sales strategies, encompassing both traditional direct and programmatic sales, tailored to the their individual market position and dynamics.

Shifting budgets

“Programmatic is no longer limited to desktop display, it is fast gaining traction in mobile and video”, said Benjamin Faes, managing director, partner business solutions EMEA, at Google.

Advertisers are already shifting significant portions of their budget to programmatic – American Express has ‘indicated an aspiration’ to be 100% programmatic within 18 months – and confidence in the market is at an all-time high, says Faes. 

“Large advertisers are increasingly shifting budgets to programmatic, including branding budgets, as more premium inventory becomes available and marketers gain confidence in the benefits, especially as they realise the richness of data available. ‘Programmatic guaranteed’ will accelerate this shift even further.”