Marketers in five major European markets are shifting their programmatic ad-buying in-house, according to a series of comprehensive reports from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB).

Based on a survey of 950 Europe-based brand representatives responsible for making media investment decisions, the IAB found that two-thirds (65%) of brands in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK currently buy ads programmatically.

And in an important development, a full 86% of these programmatically active brands have fully (39%) or partially (47%) moved the function in-house, although the extent to which brands have fully embraced in-house programmatic capabilities varies across the five markets.

For example, about a third of brands in Germany (35%) and Spain (32%) have fully moved programmatic in-house compared with nearly half (48%) of brands in the UK.

According to the IAB study, which was supported by Accenture Interactive, a consultancy making active moves into agency services, the main reasons for European brands to bring programmatic media-buying in-house are cost efficiency, audience targeting and campaign effectiveness.

However, while brands tend to prioritise the allocation of internal resources for strategic activities, the survey found that they still prefer working with outside partners for executing technical programmatic functions, such as data management and campaign optimisation.

And another trend identified in the analysis is that some brands are looking into adding search, digital video or social to their in-house capabilities, suggesting they have a long-term commitment to expanding programmatic functions beyond display.

The survey also explored the effects of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on in-house programmatic and found that it has had only a “nominal” impact on European businesses.

As such, two-thirds of European brands indicated that they actually increased their programmatic ad spending in the eight months after the GDPR came into force on May 25th 2018.

And three-quarters (76%) of UK brands reported some level of data quality improvement, the highest across all five markets, while only 7% of UK brands felt strongly that the volume of targeting data had declined following its introduction.

Sourced from IAB; additional content by WARC staff