Programmatic ad spending has started to recover a month after the arrival of the General Data Protection Regulation caused it to nosedive. Advertisers’ panic toward the EU privacy law has turned to pragmatism.
Some clients cut programmatic buys by anywhere from 20 to 50 percent in the days after GDPR took effect May 25, several media buyers said on condition of anonymity. A month in, spending has somewhat recovered to pre-GDPR enforcement levels. Now, brands are spending around 30 percent less on ads from exchanges than what they were prior to May 25, said a media buyer at an independent agency. An executive at one of the holding groups put that figure at closer to 20 percent.
Programmatic spend was down for two reasons: First, some publishers lacked the technology to secure consent for targeted advertising, which limited the number of sites that advertisers could buy from. Second, advertisers were cautious about pumping money into supply chains that they weren’t sure could target their ads safely or legally.
As those issues eased over the last month, spending has returned. Two media sources said that publishers saw opt-in consent rates gradually hit around 75 percent since the regulation arrived, which convinced advertisers to buy more programmatic ads. Jon Slade, global chief commercial officer at the Financial Times, said on the Digiday Podcast that the FT’s demand recovered after five days. Deutsche Telekom stopped some buys immediately after the law took effect, but Gerhard Louw, the company’s head of international media management, said its programmatic spend has returned to pre-GDPR levels.
Programmatic is simply the preferred way advertisers like Deutsche Telekom do business today. While some brands “may have temporarily shifted [programmatic] budgets, we’re seeing a return across the board,” Chris Hogg, Lotame’s managing direction in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Programmatic spending shifts
Programmatic trading will still drive digital marketing because of the scale and automation it affords media buyers, but the pipes are no longer filled with third-party data, which was “liquid gold to many pre-GDPR enforcement,” said Sam Fenton-Elstone, CEO of media agency Anything is Possible. Media buyers said many advertisers will move the majority of their programmatic spend away from audience targeting in favor of contextual targeting strategies or direct deals with publishers.