LONDON: Investment by advertisers in programmatic ad buying is being held back by the lack of transparency in the trading ecosystem, according to a leading industry figure.

Robert Dreblow, head of marketing capabilities at the World of Federation of Advertisers (WFA), told The Drum that the organisation's brand members had raised concerns in this regard.

"There is an issue of arbitrage going on, with all the different levels in value in the value chain in terms of incremental costs being added," he said.

Dreblow also suggested that only half of a brand's media investment might end up as working media. "That's because of the incremental costs that are being added as it goes down the value chain, with the demand-side platforms and demand-management platforms and so on," he explained.

If programmatic was to realise its full potential, these issues would need to be addressed. "There is still an education job to be done before we can put all clients' minds at ease," he said.

A recent survey by the IAB found that most advertisers and publishers were already using programmatic buying strategies, but said concerns over brand safety could slow future take-up.

One third of advertisers said their use of programmatic approaches was less than it might be because of decreased control over where their advertising might be viewed.

Advertisers are also increasingly likely to bypass agencies when it comes to programmatic ad buying, using their own brand data and minimising the need for a middleman.

Dreblow said that while WFA members' current investment in programmatic was small compared to, say, television, many knew it would become "the future" of media trading.

Data sourced from The Drum; additional content by Warc staff