NEW YORK: Marketers appear to be addressing concerns around media transparency and brand safety by bringing more programmatic media-buying capabilities in house, new research shows.

According to an ANA survey of 149 senior client-side marketers, half of whom worked at companies with media budgets of over $100m, more than a third (35%) have expanded their in-house programmatic media buying capabilities and as a result have reduced the role of external agencies that previously performed the same function.

This marked a significant increase from a similar survey in 2016 that found only 14% of ANA marketers were reducing the role of their external agency as a result of in-house expansion.

At the same time, the proportion of respondents opting in to an undisclosed programmatic model with their agency – a practice which can hide agency margins and fees – has almost halved, from 34% to 19%.

Only 40% of respondents said they were comfortable about the level of transparency they receive with their programmatic media investments – and those who said they were uncomfortable cited factors including hidden costs, too many middlemen, and uncertainty on where ads actually run.

In fact, a majority (78%) of respondents indicated that they were concerned/ very concerned about brand safety issues in programmatic media buying.

“It’s clear that a growing number of marketers are taking increasing control of their media investments,” said ANA CEO Bob Liodice.

“They’re making important changes to their programmatic buying practices to address media transparency concerns. Specifically, they’re moving sensitive responsibilities in-house and enhancing decision making by better understanding their costs and media investment transactions.”

Agencies still play an important role in campaign execution, but most marketers prefer to set the strategy for their programmatic campaigns and own the contracts.

Seven in ten respondents (69%) said they handled strategy and campaign direction in-house while only 24% outsourced strategy and campaign direction to an agency partner.

Sourced from ANA; additional content by WARC staff