ISBA & PwC Programmatic Study II


ISBA represents 3000+ leading UK advertisers, speaking with one voice to advocate a trusted advertising environment.

PwC’s Marketing & Media Assurance team is a neutral independent party committed to delivering trust and transparency, reflecting PwC’s mission to “build trust in society and solve important problems”. In 2020 ISBA and PwC, with AOP, delivered a pioneering study into programmatic advertising supply chains, uncovering industry-changing issues: (i) deep challenges with data access and quality; and (ii) 15% of spend disappearing into an unattributable “unknown delta”. This was an uncomfortable experience: it cost PwC £1m more than they were paid; and some participants, unhappy with the findings, briefly mentioned litigation. A UK cross-industry taskforce (led by ISBA, including PwC) was convened to respond, which by 2022 was ready to test progress. PwC now re-faced those risks of spiralling costs, possible legal action, and potentially simply telling the same bad news story again! And 40+ advertisers, agencies, tech vendors and publishers all needed persuading to participate, many of whom were understandably wary after 2020. Thankfully, the results of our 2022 programmatic study II are hugely promising, with the impression match rate from DSP-to-SSP up from 12% to 58%, the unknown delta reduced to 3%, and publisher revenues up 8%. Private marketplaces (PMPs) performed particularly well, with impression match rates 70%+, the delta <1%, and publisher net revenues 70%+. This does not mean programmatic is now perfect – this “premium” study is not representative of the whole ecosystem, with plenty of work still to be done – but it does reflect very positively on industry actions and progress in response to our 2020 study. This is true data-driven insight: sustained investment of time, effort and money (ISBA and PwC funded the 2022 study 1/3 each, with the other 1/3 paid by advertisers) to deliver world-leading industry changes.