As the landscape of programmatic advertising, which involves the automated buying and selling of online ads, has grown cluttered and complex over the past decade, one could be forgiven for assuming that curating your own strategy simply involves working with fewer partners in the advertising supply chain. But truth be told, there’s a little more to it than that.

For both buyers and sellers, the rise of the programmatic industry has, in many ways, fragmented the supply chain, which has resulted in a loss of control and transparency. And as buyers remain under increasing pressure to justify returns on their ad spend, the need for a reliable supply chain is more important than ever.

On the back of a tumultuous period of upheaval, a crucial window of opportunity is now open for advertisers to raise standards by honing in on the most valuable facets of an effective ad marketplace platform.

Carve out your objectives

One of the very first things to consider for a prospective advertiser is where they want to be heading. Increased traffic? New product launch? Whether for strategic priorities or to be cost-efficient, an effective ad exchange can help a brand leverage its message much more in line with its goals. Without understanding your campaign objectives, such as your target audience, you are basically directionless. In this case, all you get is vanity metrics that don’t necessarily help you achieve your overall business objectives.

So, define your goals. For instance, do you want to increase brand awareness or direct people to your product pages to increase sales? Zeroing in on what your audience wants and how you can appeal to that, you must make sure to get the objective right from the get-go. Even the most subtle of changes in your initial parameters can have an exponential effect on the campaign outcome.

Recognizing your own capacities and strengths will also help you carve out the best mode of attack. For instance, different modes of programmatic advertising are more effective depending on the business objectives at hand. Real-time bidding would be more suited to those who prefer to skip the tedious process of negotiating prices with the ad platform, yet it might not suit those who would like to know the exact destinations their ads will be placed at.

Security is more essential than ever before

It’s quite simple, really, and there are no two ways about it. Marketplaces and exchanges need barriers in place to ward off scams that can seriously dent a brand’s advertising campaign. This is a concern which should be one of the first thoughts if video ads are your long-term plan for stability. Since Forrester found that 69 percent of companies spending at least $1 million per month on ads lose 20 percent of their budget to ad fraud, the right marketplace has to have a robust protocol against fraudsters.

Bots have quickly become the most potent ad-fraud threat, as more advertising campaigns started going digital. Imperva’s Bad Bot report estimates bad bots account for nearly a quarter of all web traffic. In programmatic advertising, fake supplies are the most common type of ad fraud. A popular modus operandi of scammers is to misrepresent out-stream video ad slots as in-stream video slots.

Therefore, it is crucial you choose a marketplace that complies with Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) standards that champion market-leading safety protocols such as HUMAN pre-bid and post-bid scanning. Security options such as Ads.txt, where a text file is placed on your website to show a list of authorized vendors that are allowed to sell their inventory, or Sellers.json, which allows ad buyers to check direct sellers, traffic resellers, and inventory source, is a good baseline for what to look for when considering ad exchanges.

Always make sure to secure a marketplace that has a TAG certification against fraud issued by ETC, analyze its anti-fraud features, and gain a clearer understanding of its security capabilities. Does it have validators that assess creatives before these reach publishers? Are bid requests checked before they are auctioned off? These are critical questions to ask yourself before committing to hefty ad budgets.

Keeping it real-time

Instead of having direct access to reports, advertisers in the past often resorted to receiving summaries on spreadsheets supplied by the agency, leaving them with no other option than to burn money on a third party to retrieve all their metrics.

Today, more publishers are using machine learning-driven algorithms to optimize this process to improve conversion rates, ensure the system delivers value to advertisers, and manage the bidding process for maximum profit. Google Ads, for example, allows advertisers to bid for ad slots based on priorities like improved CPA, ROAS, or CPC. This brand of machine learning yield optimization can prove an essential tool for increasing revenues by allowing publishers to adjust operations on the fly.

So, commit to a marketplace that has real-time updates or dashboards and adjust ads unilaterally based on performance. This provides you flexibility, which is like gold dust in a dynamic advertising environment.

Changes on the horizon

By the end of 2022, all major browsers will have phased out third-party cookies—the tracking files that other websites, such as Facebook or Twitter, send to the devices visiting your page. Additionally, mobile device makers are limiting the identifiers allowed on their devices and applications. Across industry verticals, the global enterprise ecosystem now faces a critical moment in which digital advertising will be forever changed.

Putting aside the pressing need to protect advertisers from bad-faith actors, we’re also seeing another trend on the horizon: video ads. Video ads have begun making headway on the shoulders of a larger rise in video consumption in general. 80% of U.S. consumers are now paying for streaming video services, according to Deloitte, up from 73% before the Covid-19 pandemic began. Additionally, as of last year, 78% of people watch videos online each week, and 55% say they watch them daily.

Mobile phones have also gotten bigger, faster, and more conducive to video advertising. So, it’s no surprise that the space is booming and likely to continue to grow for the foreseeable future. Video ad spending in the U.S. increased from $8.92 billion in 2017 to $10.18 billion in 2019. That number is expected to reach as high as $12.66 billion by 2024. Therefore, the ability to safeguard video advertisers in a dynamic marketplace environment could become the most valuable characteristic of an ad marketplace. In a world full of hacks and bots, it should be the first thing on your checklist.

Up until now, consumers have enjoyed a mostly free internet experience, but as publishers adjust to a cookie-less world, they will increasingly encounter more paywalls and less free content. There is no denying that this changing landscape has slowly, but surely, ramped up the importance of securing ads, particularly with the emergence of video as part of the advertising equation. So, for those looking for the right marketplaces for their campaigns, they’ll not only need to recognize their own capacities and objectives but also understand the key linchpins which can affect their campaigns and manage them properly with a marketplace that enables them to do so.

Written by Alon Carmel, CEO of Aniview