More Ad Dollars to Flock to RTB, But Hurdles Remain

October 9, 2012

Marketers and agencies are spending more through real-time bidding (RTB) exchanges and project further increases over the next year, according to [pdf] a report from INDEX Platform, conducted by Advertiser Perceptions. Respondents on both the sell- and buy-side (who were required to have a knowledge of RTB technologies) expect about one-fifth of their digital advertising budgets and inventories to be bought and sold through RTB in the next year. Yet buy-side respondents identify significant gaps between the importance of various RTB characteristics and their satisfaction with those characteristics. These concerns will need to be addressed if an already-growing global market is to continue its rapid upward trajectory.

Concerns Remain on Both Sides

Buy-side respondents identify a number of areas of improvement which would drive them to spend more on RTB. Chief among those is a greater emphasis on quality impressions (77% agreeing or strongly agreeing), followed by more guarantees for brand safety (70%) and greater transparency in the RTB process (65%).

These tie back to gaps between levels of importance and degrees of satisfaction. For example, while 88% say that performance and ROI is important (the leading attribute), just 38% say they’re satisfied with their ROI. There are similar disconnects between importance and satisfaction for targeting options (86% vs. 32%), inventory quality (81% vs. 25%), reporting/insights (78% vs. 32%), and transparency (77% vs. 32%).

On the sell-side, more than 4 in 5 publishers are concerned that RTB will commoditize their inventory, and more than 7 in 10 are worried about sales channel conflicts and deteriorating human relationships. Many say that features such as direct deals (82%), price controls (73%) and inventory segmentation (73%) are very important features when selling through a private exchange.

AT&T Top Advertiser by RTB Ad Spend

Meanwhile, a Rubicon Project report [download page] issued in September identifies the top advertisers by RTB ad spend, finding AT&T to hold the top spot in both August and July, with Toyota and American Express occupying the 2nd and 3rd spots respectively, during both months. Looking at advertiser categories, technology and computing headed the list, followed by automotive, personal finance, shopping, and food and drink. Those rankings were constant throughout both months analyzed.

Some categories are increasing their RTB ad spend much quicker than others. In August, the news category upped its spend by 114% month-over-month, while the shopping (+99%) category also dove further in. By contrast, pets (-68%), home and garden (-46%), and health and fitness (-39%) all cut spend.

On the publisher side, the arts and entertainment vertical maintained its top ranking by RTB revenue in August, followed by news, shopping, automotive, and technology and computing.

About the Data: The INDEX Platform survey method was as follows: All data collected via online interviews by Advertiser Perceptions; Qualitative responses collected via phone interviews by Advertiser Perceptions; and Incentives included cash and sweepstakes.

Qualifications for respondents included: being involved in digital display/video media decisions; having an understanding of RTB technologies; and advertiser past 12 month minimum spend of $500k.

The Rubicon Project report data is based on the activity transacted from within the Rubicon Project Marketplace powered by REVV. The methodology used to produce the report was as follows: Advertising rankings were based on activity generated by AdAge’s top 100 US advertisers that had over $2,000 of RTB monthly ad spend on REVV; supply rankings were based on comScore’s top 500 publishers whose inventory is managed by REVV; advertising and Publisher-named categories are representative of IAB’s Contextual Taxonomy; and current and previous rankings are based on July and August 2012 data.

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