3 Ways the Murky Programmatic Industry Made Strides Toward Progress in 2023


The industrywide practice of complaining about the programmatic ecosystem might be as commonplace as not leaving the couch for five days during the last week of December.

Programmatic advertising has been called out for not being transparent, being wasteful, violating people’s fundamental rights to privacy and depleting the power of independent publishers, among other allegations.

But this year, people working at brands, agencies, ad-tech firms and publishers took critical steps to make the industry a little bit better.

So, as we all sit down for some nice quality time with our phones and computers this week, the programmatic machinery will still be tirelessly working, noting our attention and selling it to advertisers. But Adweek has spotlighted some of the ways ad tech has made progress in an industry known for clinging to bad patterns.

Pruning supply paths

This year, an array of companies took steps to make the supply path between publisher and advertiser shorter, cutting down on wasted dollars and carbon emissions along the way.

Publishers have long been willing to rack up ad-tech partners if it would make them an extra buck, but this year, Insider reassessed its ad-tech partnerships to reduce carbon emissions, and Salon cut out resellers and saw its revenues rise.

Ad-tech firms offered new solutions to make supply-path optimization a reality, sometimes out of necessity. Supply-side platforms PubMatic and Magnite debuted new tools to buy premium video like connected television without a demand-side platform. Yahoo shuttered its SSP and laid off one-half of its ad-tech workforce, only several months later to become a DSP that offered a direct connection to the sell-side through its SPO product, Backstage. And buyers are increasingly working to cut out agencies in their contracts with ad-tech providers, in a ploy to reduce ad-tech taxes and own valuable signals.

These steps can work toward creating a programmatic supply chain that matches advertisers’ goals with publisher supply.

“When you eat a lot of sugar, the human body just gets less responsive,” said Ratko Vidakovic, founder of ad-tech advisory firm AdProfs. “The more the supply side shouts and creates these duplicative bid requests, the less DSPs listen to it, because they know it’s from the same ad opportunity.”

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