Marketers pay a "technology tax" that results in more than 40% of their programmatic adspend being swallowed up by non-working media such as supply-chain data and transaction costs.

Resolving that problem, according to the recently-published "Programmatic: Seeing Through the Financial Fog" report, will require buy-in from multiple stakeholders: "The challenge of programmatic transparency is not just technical – thousands of sites, millions of impressions, 24/7 buying – but also a legal and procedural challenge, where clarity in roles and responsibilities of all parties at the outset is vital," it said.

The study was produced by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and Association of Canadian Advertisers (ACA), two trade bodies, alongside Ebiquity, the marketing-analytics company, and AD/FIN, the programmatic-intelligence provider. The multiple data streams considered by the analysis include:

  • 16.4 billion media impressions purchased between July 15, 2015 and December 31, 2016;
  • 30 brands, owned by seven enterprises, in the auto, banking, consumer packaged goods, fashion, finance and travel sectors;
  • six advertising agencies;
  • five demand-side platforms (DSPs);
  • one trading desk;
  • $67.6 million in working media spend (i.e. the winning bid prices paid by DSPs to programmatic exchanges).