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Are Online Ad Exchanges Working?
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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We came across a post from a writer who covered a talk delivered by one of R/GA's vice presidents about how ad exchanges and "programmatic advertising" are taking the clout big agencies and holding companies had under their belts. 

The playing field is leveling.

While we do concede that holding companies and big agencies have influence due to their large pocketbooks when it comes to dishing out cash for commercials and airtime, we cannot immediately  agree with the notion that these online ad exchanges level the field. 

Several issues demand attention — first, are these online ad exchanges actually working? Second, do these exchanges provide quality spots for brands? Third, are the spots quality enough to rival the attention and notoriety that traditional advertising buying receives, making the exchanges viable options for media companies?

Today we are covering the first question.

These digital RTB (real-time-bidding) platforms have been one of the hotter trends digital marketers have been trying to push. We see sites like SiteScout, Mediative, and Fitty Ads (a fitness-based ad platform); the examples of businesses who use them online (at least those who've given them the okay to use their names for promotional purposes) are not that exciting.

Do these platforms provide services that small and medium agencies need in order to serve their bigger clients? Absolutely. But can we honestly say that the rise of these platforms is leveling the playing field for a 5–10 person shop against WPP, the holding company responsible for nearly 40% of all media spending in the United States? 

Not without a slight grin and a lot of doubt.

The fact is, buy-in from the rest of the marketing and advertising industry — not to mention our media-buying colleagues — is still needed. RTB and ad platforms are still maturing, and once they reach maturity, yes, we can see them being yet another means to get messages out to the audiences who need them. Until then, small agencies need to figure out how to play on an uneven field, playing a time that is designed against their approach.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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