While programmatic advertising has been getting the full brunt of criticism around privacy legislation, there’s been some positive news emerging from the DMEXCO conference this week in Cologne, Germany. According to the IAB Europe’s Attitudes to Programmatic Advertising report, programmatic ad spend in Europe grew by 33% in 2018 – hitting €16.7 billion.

The report, now in its fifth year, delivered a comprehensive analysis of the European programmatic landscape, covering strategies and adoption trends, drivers of and barriers to growth, and forecasts for the future for 31 markets.

In addition to the programmatic ad spend, the research found that more than 70% of display and 50% of video are now traded via programmatic methods. 

However, the study indicated that lack of awareness over transparency was still an issue in the sector. Although 56% of publishers trade the majority of their inventory with an ads.txt file attached, only 6% of advertisers and 26% of agencies are currently buying their inventory ads.txt verified. This suggests that the ads.txt inventory exists but more buyer education and adoption is required.

Townsend Feehan, CEO, IAB Europe, commented that the findings were positive given the current climate privacy legislation. However, Feehan highlighted that stakeholders in the sector need to do more to address the issues of data transparency.

“The programmatic industry is experiencing a period of rapid transformation, to ensure it continues to provide a safe environment for advertisers, a positive experience for consumers and addresses the demands made by new regulation throughout the world,” said Feehan.

The study also revealed a clear shift to hybrid models for programmatic trading as the number of advertisers with in-house operations overtook the number outsourcing to an agency. There was also an increase in the number using external consultancies. Advertisers using consultancies for programmatic buying grew to 7% this year – up from 0% in 2018. 

In addition, 52% of advertisers cite that they are considering taking programmatic in-house in the next 12 months whilst 50% claim they plan to use an external consultancy.

“It’s encouraging to see the majority of stakeholders expecting an increase in programmatic investments of up to 80% over the next 12 months,” Feehan continued.

“It is clear however that talent, the low buy-side adoption of ads.txt and supply chain transparency remain impediments to this growth, and these are areas we will be addressing with our members.”