LONDON: The great majority of European advertising professionals regard programmatic as the future of the industry, but many within the marketing community remain unaware of the concept or have only a weak grasp of what it involves, new research has found.

Warc teamed with ad tech firm AppNexus and trade body IAB Europe to carry out a major study of programmatic advertising in Europe. The report, Why and how programmatic is emerging as key to real-time marketing success, is based on a survey of more than 600 marketers, media buying agencies, publishers and advertising agencies.

It is clear from the findings that programmatic has yet to achieve its full potential in Europe. While 89% of respondents see it as playing a vital role in the industry in the future, just 42% currently have a programmatic strategy in place.

Media buying agencies are leading the programmatic revolution with 79% using programmatic advertising, compared to 48% of publishers, 46% of general advertising agencies and only 22% of marketers.

Not only are fewer marketers using programmatic, but more than half of those surveyed admit to having a flimsy hold on the idea with one quarter having not even heard of it.

That lack of knowledge is a huge challenge for the industry which is already struggling with skills shortages – one third of agencies and publishers say they are finding it difficult to keep up with developments for this reason.

Another issue, as ever, is money. Despite the growth in digital advertising budgets, one-third of respondents say that budget challenges are preventing a larger shift to programmatic.

Commenting on the findings, David Tiltman, Head of Content, Warc, stated that programmatic was more than just "a subset media specialism" and advised that data collected could be used to both shape strategies and evaluate campaigns.

"Programmatic enables advertisers and marketers to use data creatively, and build online ad strategies that both respond to context and consumers' online behaviour, and therefore raise the effectiveness of digital marketing," he said

Warc has recognised the need for marketers to develop a greater understanding of programmatic if they are to fully benefit from it, and produced a new report, The Programmatic Primer, which aims to guide executives through this challenging subject.

Ted McConnell, the report's author – and who spent 15 years in charge of digital marketing innovation at Procter & Gamble – will be discussing the Primer in a free Warc webinar on June 17. Before then, readers can view free sample content from his analysis.

Data sourced from Warc, AppNexus, IAB Europe