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Data Concerns Slow Uptake of Programmatic Buying in Germany

Most marketers think automation puts their control of data at risk

February 19, 2016

Why is programmatic buying of ads and other marketing content lagging in Germany? Issues surrounding data ownership and processing are a big part of the problem, according to a December 2015 survey of marketing decision-makers by YouGov for the advertising technology firm Adform.

Marketing Decision-Makers in Germany Who Believe Retaining Control of Their Own Marketing Data Is Important for the Long Term, Dec 2015 (% of respondents)

Advertisers have always been keen to retain control of their marketing data. In the Adform survey, 88% said this principle was important. But programmatic buying threatens to take data out of their hands. As a result, 52% of respondents said they weren’t yet buying ads programmatically and had no plans to do so.

Much hesitation about automated buying of ad placements stems from a lack of transparency, the survey revealed. Nearly a third (31%) of marketers polled said they couldn’t get a clear idea of where their programmatic ads appeared, and 42% complained they didn’t know what happened with their data. Almost one-quarter (23%) said the lack of binding, cross-industry standards for programmatic activity was an additional risk.

What’s more, few marketers saw the prospect of improvement anytime soon. More than half feared that increasing automation of marketing would lead directly to greater loss of control on their part. Half of these decision-makers said it was already difficult to gain insights into data-driven marketing, for example, due to the large volumes of data involved.

Level of Comfort with Brands Using Their Personal Data* According to Internet Users in Select Countries, June 2015 (% of respondents)

What to do? For most of the marketers polled, the answer is teamwork and shared responsibility. Fully 55% said that advertisers, publishers, agents and providers of ad tech solutions should work together to ensure the quality and transparency of data usage, and appropriate controls. Relatively few respondents voted to make any one of these stakeholder groups responsible for data quality and handling.

Meanwhile, advertisers’ doubts about programmatic are having a direct impact on branding budgets, Adform found. Worried by the lack of transparency, marketers prioritize other investments. More than half of the marketers sampled said their own spending on programmatic was low for this reason.

In part, marketers’ attitudes simply mirror consumer concerns. When Xerox polled internet users in several European markets and the US in mid-2015, over 54% of respondents in Germany said they were concerned about brands’ use of their data, or actively avoided sharing it. In France, that proportion was even higher, at nearly 60%. Brands know that proven data breaches can have serious consequences for their profits and reputations.

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