IAS Study: Media buyers plan to ramp up investment in supply path optimisation

Digital media quality firm, Integral Ad Science (IAS) has released its latest research, Perfecting Your Supply Path: The Expansion of SPO in Programmatic. The new study uncovers critical challenges and opportunities as programmatic ad spending increases, plus how brands and agencies are approaching supply path optimisation (SPO) differently.

As programmatic buying continues to grow worldwide – estimated to top $154 billion in ad spend in 2021 – more advertisers are tapping into supply path optimisation strategies to achieve better results.

Key findings from the study include:

Video ads,  CTV and Audio 

Supply Path Optimisation

The majority of advertisers (52%) say that more than half of their advertising budgets are bought programmatically today, while 80% say it represents one-third or more of their spend.

Video ads lead the pack when it comes to programmatic buying, especially in mobile and social environments. Social video (71%), mobile web video (61%), and mobile app video (60%) formats topped the rankings in this survey, while emerging formats including CTV (38%) and Digital Audio (37%) show there’s still room for growth.

Transparency and media quality issues persist

Supply Path Optimisation

Advertisers continue to lean into programmatic, with 54% saying that maximising audience reach and scale is the primary benefit. However, advertisers say a lack of transparency in programmatic (42%) is a top challenge, along with increased ad fraud (44%) and brand risk (46%).

In some cases, brands and agencies don’t see eye to eye; nearly 1.5x more agency experts are concerned about increased ad fraud in programmatic than brands. To address concerns around transparency, many industry experts are turning to supply path optimisation strategies for their campaigns.

Who is responsible for SPO?

60% of ad buyers already activate SPO strategies to maximise the efficiency of their campaigns. As these tactics grow, 95% of ad buyers will boost their SPO efforts by working with external consultants or supply path verification technologies. 48% currently use or plan to implement third-party verification and monitoring technology to control and optimise campaigns toward supply paths with the most cost-efficient, high-quality media.

While they agree on the opportunity, brands and agencies don’t see eye to eye on who should take responsibility for SPO and media quality. When asked about this, 47% of brands and 38% of agencies agree that brands are responsible for day-to-day SPO activities; by contrast, 29% of brands and 38% of agencies believe that agencies are responsible for these tasks. This disconnect highlights the importance of greater alignment between media buyers to fully achieve the benefits of supply path optimisation.

This report showcases that a fundamental shift is underway towards quality path optimisation. Rather than simply focusing on low cost ad inventory within programmatic environments, marketers are carefully deploying SPO strategies to seek high quality media underpinned by efficient investments.

Tony Marlow, CMO, IAS