NEW YORK: Less than 10% of marketers in Canada are comfortable using programmatic buying, with seven in ten being either unaware of this concept or simply having heard of the term.

When AcuityAds and Marketing Magazine surveyed 522 marketers across Canada, they found that 34% had not heard of programmatic, and almost half of the remainder (49%) rated their understanding as "very poor".

A similar proportion (45%) said their brand was below average or lagging behind on programmatic execution.

"There just aren't many marketers in Canada who would describe themselves as black belts in programmatic buying," observed eMarketer.

That lack of understanding was the main factor holding back investment in programmatic. Almost one third of survey respondents (32%) cited this as a major impediment.

"I'm not surprised," Frederick Lecoq, svp/marketing for FGL Sports and Mark's at Canadian Tire, told Marketing. "We digital marketers haven't done a proper job educating our organisation and peers to make programmatic buying easy to understand."

Other obstacles to investment were more closely linked to the mechanics of programmatic, including worries over whether premium content really was premium (31%), whether ads were being viewed by the right audience (29%), whether ads were being placed on inappropriate sites (26%) and transparency over how money was being spent (25%).

The survey also found that agencies were further down the programmatic road than brand marketers, who often appeared happy to leave decisions on this subject to agency staff.

On average, programmatic-aware marketers estimated their brands were committing 15.9% of their digital spend to this activity, a figure predicted to almost double, to 30.9%, by 2017.

Earlier this year Warc published The Programmatic Primer: A Marketer's Guide to the Online Advertising Ecosystem, which aims to bring some clarity and understanding to this area.

Author Ted McConnell warned that the fact trading is automated would in itself bring few benefits, as success is down to how marketers use data.

Data sourced from eMarketer, Marketing; additional content by Warc staff