Despite GDPR, programmatic ad spend in Europe rose by 33% last year hitting €16.7 billion.

These findings came in the IAB Europe’s Attitudes to Programmatic Advertising report published to coincide with the Dmexco conference hosted in Cologne, Germany where programmatic advertising under GDPR obligations were a popular subject of debate.

More than 70% of display ads and 50% of video ads are now traded but it has been found that there is a lack of awareness over transparency. The study found that while 56% of publishers trade the majority of their inventory with an ads.txt file attached (an IAB Tech Lab initiative to combat fraud) only 6% of advertisers and 26% of agencies do so.

Townsend Feehan, CEO, IAB Europe, said “It’s encouraging to see the majority of stakeholders expecting an increase in programmatic investments of up to 80% over the next 12 months.

“It is clear however that talent, the low buy-side adoption of ads.txt and supply chain transparency remain impediments to this growth, and these are areas we will be addressing with our members.”

Increased scrutiny over how the ad-tech ecosystem uses the public’s personal data – as symbolised by GDPR-enforcement plus the upcoming California Consumer Privacy Act – has prompted all of the industry’s major platforms to follow suit.

For instance, earlier this year Google announced its intention to clamp down on tech companies monitoring user behaviour within its Chrome browser in ways it sees inappropriate. And while this stops short of Apple and Mozilla’s prohibition of third-party cookies, it is a harbinger of things to come and a move that could be seen as diminishing the interests of independent ad tech.

Jordan Mitchell, IAB Tech Lab, “We must set ourselves on an orderly path to rethink the cookie – an early, jerry-rigged internet technology that has far outlived its usefulness – and embrace a new paradigm of clear privacy settings and consumer controls tied to a standardised identifier”.

Our view

Well, where’s the transparency? Why not be honest?

A major clothes retail chain denied that they were using beacons but they were and connecting with Bluetooth, they are partnering with apps like Facebook and Instagram who track your location and take a whole host of other behaviours you have on the app. They can take all of that together to build a profile on you and target you with very specific ads.

One thing is for sure, electronic marketing is expanding and the regulator will be keeping a very close eye. Again businesses will need to be careful to protect their brands from unscrupulous and irresponsible behavior.