I’ve written a lot about Programmatic Advertising over the past four years because of the rise in usage among media buyers.  While recognizing the efficiency, I’ve also cautioned against eliminating the direct buy of premium websites from name publishers.

There’s no arguing that more people are using programmatic – machine-driven – advertising to place their buys across the internet.  A group called Market Research Future looked at ads being bought through Rubicon, Adroll, Adobe Marketing, DoubleClick, AdReady, Centro, Outbrain and others and came up with this forecast.

Programmatic advertising will have “a momentous growth of $150 billion by 2023,” with a 23% CAGR.

Here’s where I’ve always expressed caution.  Working directly with brand name publishers guarantees your ads will be seen in a quality environment.

Ad networks have a built-in problem: they can’t safely police every site that’s in the network. The amount of content that is uploaded daily is staggering and the crooks out there keep moving the ball. Imagine the magnitude of monitoring every item to every site out there… every second… and determining its validity. I don’t know that there is AI capable of that task.

Is Programmatic really an efficient use of your ad spend?

In addition, you pay a big premium to middleman that place your ads.  In some case, it can use up 40-50% of your ad spend before any ads run.

Here’s a compelling argument for using brand name publishers and companies you trust to place your ads.  It comes from Ad Contrarian Bob Hoffman, who in turn cites researcher Dr. Augustine Fou.

Fou examined 100 million online ads and concluded that buying ads direct from quality publishers is 8 times more efficient than programmatic ad networks.

One key finding was that 35% of programmatic ads is lost to ad blockers.  Why is that key?  Because quality publishers don’t count ads that are blocked because they aren’t served.


If only 11.5% of your ad spend is going to people seeing your ads using programmatic buys versus 88.3% with quality publishers, it’s certainly worth a thought or two, isn’t it?