Programmatic ad growth and transparency issues will drive the adoption of Supply path Optimization in 2022 – IAS Study


 MUMBAI NOVEMBER 18, 2021 Integral Ad Science (Nasdaq: IAS), a global leader in digital media quality, today released its latest research, Perfecting Your Supply Path: The Expansion of SPO in Programmatic. The new study uncovers critical challenges and opportunities as programmatic ad spending increases, plus how brands and agencies are approaching supply path optimization (SPO) differently. 

“This report showcases that a fundamental shift is underway towards quality path optimization. Rather than simply focusing on low-cost ad inventory within programmatic environments, marketers are carefully deploying SPO strategies to seek high-quality media underpinned by efficient investments,” said Tony Marlow, CMO, IAS. 

Programmatic buying continues to grow worldwide – estimated to top $154 billion in ad spend in 2021 – and more advertisers are tapping into supply path optimization strategies to achieve better results. The latest study from IAS found:

Video ads dominate programmatic buying, while CTV and Audio are up and coming

The majority of advertisers (52%) say that more than half of their advertising budgets are bought programmatically today, while 80% say it represents one-third or more of their spend. Video ads lead the pack when it comes to programmatic buying, especially in mobile and social environments. Social video (71%), mobile web video (61%), and mobile app video (60%) formats topped the rankings in this survey, while emerging formats including CTV (38%) and Digital Audio (37%) show there’s still room for growth. 

Benefits abound, but transparency and media quality issues persist for media experts

Advertisers continue to lean into programmatic, with 54% saying that maximizing audience reach and scale is the primary benefit. However, advertisers say a lack of transparency in programmatic (42%) is a top challenge, along with increased ad fraud (44%) and brand risk (46%). In some cases, brands and agencies don’t see eye to eye; nearly 1.5x more agency experts are concerned about increased ad fraud in programmatic than brands. To address concerns around transparency, many industry experts are turning to supply path optimization strategies for their campaigns. 

SPO strategies are on the rise, but brands and agencies disagree on who’s responsible

60% of ad buyers already activate SPO strategies to maximize the efficiency of their campaigns. As these tactics grow, 95% of ad buyers will boost their SPO efforts by working with external consultants or supply path verification technologies. 48% currently use or plan to implement third-party verification and monitoring technology to control and optimize campaigns toward supply paths with the most cost-efficient, high-quality media. While they agree on the opportunity, brands and agencies don’t see eye to eye on who should take responsibility for SPO and media quality. When asked about this, 47% of brands and 38% of agencies agree that brands are responsible for day-to-day SPO activities; by contrast, 29% of brands and 38% of agencies believe that agencies are responsible for these tasks. This disconnect highlights the importance of greater alignment between media buyers to fully achieve the benefits of supply path optimization. 

The Perfecting Your Supply Path: The Expansion of SPO in Programmatic study from IAS surveyed 200 U.S. brands and agencies to better understand perceptions of programmatic advertising and how they activate supply path optimization strategies.


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