Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 10 seconds

The ongoing criticism of programmatic advertising hasn’t prevented the form of automated marketing from attracting new advocates as it continues to grow.

Indeed, industry data and other observations underscore that industry watchers who have continued to forecast rapid growth of programmatic advertising have been correct, despite large-scale concerns. These industry pundits have focused on the ability of programmatic advertising to deliver targeted messages to consumers in an affordable and scalable manner.

As previously reported, some of the world’s largest brands have been highly critical of programmatic advertising and have even slashed their funds allocated to the marketing channel.

One of the most visible critics has been Procter & Gamble CMO Marc Pritchard, who has said the media supply chain isn’t transparent and, at worst, fraudulent. Among other requests, he called for third-party verification of advertising data and increased transparency. The company eventually cut millions of dollars from its digital marketing budget.

Uber has also been one of the many critics of programmatic marketing, having claimed that one of its marketing agencies wasted tens of millions of dollars on bogus advertising.

Yet, anecdotal observations and industry data show that programmatic advertising is continuing to grow. The Trade Desk, which is one of only a few publicly traded companies that focuses exclusively on programmatic advertising, is an example. According to a Trade Desk press release, the company generated $85.7 million in revenues in the first quarter, a 61% increase from the first quarter of 2017.

Earnings, as expressed by EBITDA, increased 202% to $18.9 million. The company attributes the strong results, in part, to capturing new clients, but it also maintains that it is benefiting from the rapid overall growth of programmatic advertising.

Alessandra De Lorenzo of the online travel agency Lastminute.com Group identifies a variety of reasons for the growing success of programmatic advertising, according to a Salesforce.com article on MarketingWeek.  

He maintains that Google Search, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram provide a wealth of insights on billions of their users globally, which is highly appealing to adverters. He observes that programmatic advertising is becoming increasingly mainstream. In the process, it is becoming easier to implement, so more brands are adopting the marketing strategy internally, which is giving advertisers more control over the display of their content.

The same article cites Opus Energy in the United Kingdom as an example of a brand that has moved all of its advertising to Google and Facebook.

Big global brands are also embracing blockchain technology as a strategy to address some of the concerns regarding transparency and the quality of data associated with programmatic advertising. Blockchain, or distributed ledger, tracks activities, or transactions. It is analogous to keeping a ledger of every transaction that a dollar bill is used for and having the ledger attached to the bill.

Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev), which has iconic brands such as Bud Light, Budweiser, Michelob Ultra, Estrella Jalisco, Stella Artois, and Bud Light Lime-a-Rita, recently disclosed that its use of programmatic advertising and blockchain technology has helped the company achieve up to a 30% savings in media spending, according to The Drum.

The company has achieved the savings by teaming up with Kiip to launch a blockchain mobile advertising campaign. Lucas Herscovici, AB InBev's global marketing vice president of consumer connections, insights and innovation, says blockchain can potentially be a more credible way to track and assess news ways of serving content and to improve the credibility of campaign results.

Publishers and other content providers such as music streaming service Pandora, meanwhile, are betting that their programmatic advertising services will help accelerate revenue growth. Earlier this year, Pandora acquired technology firm AdsWizz to improve its programmatic advertising offering, reports MarketWatch.

The goal is to help Pandora grow from being a publisher to being more of an advertising platform, says Chief Financial Officer Naveen Chopra.

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