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US Programmatic display advertising spends continue to grow, but do you really know what you’re getting for your advertising dollars?

A3 Media has a traffic and accounting department intensely focused on verifying every media buy placed for our clients are delivered in full. But we are never content, constantly researching options and potential pitfalls. If your media buying agency isn’t constantly looking for better and more efficient options, should they be your media buyer?

We recently completed an audit of a client’s programmatic campaign and found the pacing to be flawless. A series of 30-day campaigns delivered a consistent daily average of impressions that were evenly distributed throughout day.

The urge was to dig a little deeper, so we set out to test restricted hourly delivery over a short test period and found the results to be anything but unacceptable. Without letting our national DSP know, we set up a seven-day test to monitor pacing. This test was agency funded; no client advertising dollars were used.

We started with a very small test budget, an extremely focused geographic footprint, and some dayparting. Sounds reasonably simple right? WRONG!

Our test delivery was to be restricted to a six-hour window. Almost immediately we uncovered flawed dayparting algorithms. With solid results from previous campaign audits, we anticipated an average hourly delivery of approximately 17% of the total daily impressions. After allowing the campaign to run for two full 24-hour cycles we found 100% of the daily delivery in the first hour of the six-hour window. Hmm? Unless there is a specific reason to do so, reaching your entire target audience in one hour is in no one’s best interest!

When questioned, after the usual volley of emails, phone calls, and explanations that just didn’t add up the matter was turned over to the DSP’s CTO for further investigation. The explanation was not acceptable.

We were informed our test scenario uncovered a flaw the DSP was unaware of. They claimed no other agency had previously used or tested dayparted delivery. Really? Huh? While we found that hard to believe, maybe the answer was no other agency was checking hourly pacing and only checking total impressions.

However, within 72 hours the DSP recoded their delivery metrics to accommodate evenly paced hourly daypart targeting. We tested it again and it was working properly. The question is, did they know all along and just wanted to make sure they could clear the money everyday or are other agencies just accepting results and not challenging their vendors?

In either event, the answer isn’t good.

This year, 2022 is projected to see more than $96.5 billion in programmatic display advertising. For DSPs and most agencies this is a win, they’ll get paid as soon as your ad is delivered.

But shouldn’t you know your advertising agency truly has your back and are working as hard as you are for your business?

One would think so…or hope so!