WFA Advertiser Survey Signals Major Focus On GDPR

If 2017 was the year of brand safety and transparency, 2018 is set to be the year GDPR reshapes programmatic marketing.

That’s the sentiment of 28 brand marketers and media directors surveyed by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) trade group for its “Future of Programmatic Media” report published Friday. The brands represented collectively spend more than $50 billion per year on advertising.

Programmatic is growing its overall share of digital buying – up 11% from last year to 28% of digital media budgets, according to the report – but certain channels are getting the lion’s share of growth.

Eighty-seven percent of companies plan to increase mobile ad spend this year, more than for any other channel. And invite-only or private marketplace exchanges are growing for two-thirds of those surveyed, while open exchanges, currently the most-used online buying method, will go down for 39% of buyers.

Seventy-six percent of respondents said reviewing programmatic practices for GDPR compliance is a major priority for this year. The GDPR topic has a 24-point lead over the second-most prioritized task: instituting multitouch and fractional attribution models.

It isn’t surprising that GDPR is a pressing concern among global media planners, said Matt Green, WFA media and digital marketing global lead. But now it’s coming hot from the back burner onto people’s plates.

Through most of 2017, “global media directors we spoke with were concerned about regulations, but they had other demands and GDPR wasn’t such a live issue,” he said. “Now it feels right around the corner.”

The issues that were pressing on marketers in 2017 are evident in the survey as well. Sixty-nine percent of the WFA brand marketers said they started whitelisting and blacklisting sites in 2017, and 45% did a transparency review of their supply chain – the only two tasks more than a quarter of respondents completed last year.

“The industry has changed significantly since [Procter & Gamble brand chief Marc] Pritchard started pushing on media transparency this point last year,” Green said.

But some things always seem to stay the same.

Multitouch attribution, the runner-up to GDPR in terms of marketer mindshare, is a perennial priority but hasn’t picked up much traction over the past few years, Green said. Mastering cross-device and path-to-purchase attribution is listed by 41% as a major priority for this year.

“It is surprising how long we’ve seen that without serious adoption,” he said. “Part of that lag is linked to companies only now getting to the point where they have data in hand to do sophisticated attribution.”

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