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Programmatic targeting – advertisers’ salvation?

Programmatic targeting – advertisers’ salvation?

Carsten Theisen
Director, Activation Insights Division

Kantar, Germany


In 2020, around one digital ad in every three in Germany, will be served programmatically. This data-driven marketing strategy is gradually replacing the practice of booking online campaigns ahead of time. Brands expect programmatic buying to deliver them more precise targeting, lowering wastage and therefore making campaigns more efficient – achieving the same impact at a lower cost. But programmatic buying is not without risk, and several key ones have emerged:

Brand safety: A programmatic buy does not guarantee the environment in which an ad will be displayed, so there is a danger that brands will appear alongside erotic or extremist content.

Ad Fraud: Advertisers pay each time an ad is served, regardless of whether it is served to a human being or a robot pretending to be human.

Transparency: The programmatic ecosystem is complex and multi-layered. Advertisers can struggle to see clearly what they are paying, to whom and for what.

Data quality: Programmatic advertising is completely data driven, so its success depends on the quality of data used. That means using both behavioral (cookie-based) data, as well as research data that explains the “why” aspect of consumer activity.

Given these teething problems, it is obviously premature to see programmatic buying as advertisers’ salvation. But there are steps being taken to overcome these challenges, and there is a strong promise that, with the right data, programmatic will deliver a bigger impact – and significant savings.