NEW YORK: Programmatic trading is proving beneficial to advertising creativity in that it is freeing up busy executives and enabling them to dedicate more of their efforts to higher value work.

Internet giant AOL surveyed 136 media owners, agencies and trading desks for its new report, Programmatic Futures: Where Culture meets Code, and found that two thirds (65%) of respondents felt they now had more time to devote to strategy and audience targeting.

"When you think about the currency of time and how pressed the agency channels are – as are the media owners – it's a remarkable amount, and we are just at the beginning," said Graham Moysey, AOL's head of international.

"As the ecosystem gets cleaned up, that time factor will only grow and time can be redeployed into other things," he told The Drum.

Already some 29% reported being able to focus more on higher value ad formats such native advertising while 26% said they could spend more time with clients.

Further, almost half (48%) thought the use of programmatic trading was helping to open up new forms of creativity and storytelling; some 28% felt the opposite was true, while 24% said it made no difference.

In reference to the significant proportion who said that programmatic inhibited creativity, Moysey suggested that more education was needed.

"If you look at the life stage of a product there is likely a lack of understanding. It [programmatic trading] can be a confusing eco system," he said, pointing to the plethora of start-ups and big players.

"Our mission statement is to simplify that and drive efficiencies through that eco system," he told Marketing Week.

Fears that the growth of automated trading would lead to job losses appeared unfounded as over half of those surveyed (57%) rejected the idea that machines were replacing humans.

If anything, the opposite was true, as one of the biggest barriers to the advance of programmatic appears to be a lack of skilled personnel, with 35% of respondents citing this as a challenge.

The other concerns which commonly surface are those of transparency and brand safety, where Moysey admitted that work remained to be done.

"There is still a bit of trepidation about programmatic in general, a misunderstanding still perhaps for those who haven't engaged with it much or have engaged with the wrong partner," he said. "But we're in a constant state of improvement."

Data sourced from The Drum, Marketing Week; additional content by Warc staff