The “Set It and Forget It” age of digital advertising is over and now, more than ever, brands are calling for transparency with their adtech partners. Fears of brand safety with regard to ad placements showing up next to unfavorable content, paired with the relatively little control brands have over their site list when advertising programmatically, have all led to increased scrutiny within the media space.
Procter & Gamble vocalized their disappointment with the media supply chain last year, vowing to cut down their site list and limit partners. The brand did just that, as reported by Digiday using Pathmatics data, cutting their site list from 2K per month at the end of 2016 to only 900 as of August, 2017. P&G isn’t the only brand scaling back on sites as many other top brand advertisers are doing the same.
The Financial Services advertiser has dramatically scaled back the number of sites it is advertising on since the beginning of 2016, without dropping their ad spend. Until September of 2016, Citigroup was running ads on an average of around 2,500 sites per month. Flash forward to 2017 and that number has dropped to ranging from 300-800 sites per month.
The largest spike was following the holidays during the month of February, 2017 when the brand was running on just over 1,200 sites for the month. As of September of this year, the brand only ran creatives on just over 500 sites. The brand cut their partner list from six in August of 2016, representing about half of their budget, to only three over the last thirty days while funneling nearly 95% of their spend through direct buys.
This demonstrates that Citigroup is trying to cut ad chain costs while maximizing return on their digital ad buys by going direct to sites that are proving to be successful. Recent top sites for the brand include AOL, Live Nation, and NY Times.
Running display creatives on only 195 sites during the month of September of this year, compared to just over 1,000 sites in May of 2016, GlaxoSmithKline is also cutting their site list. The drop-off began in 2017, trending downward ever since while average monthly spend stayed consistent. The brand also garnered more display impressions in September, 2017 than May, 2016, illustrating that more sites does not necessarily equal more impressions.
Looking year-over-year at GlaxoSmithKline’s partners and top sites, their strategy becomes even more apparent. During September of 2016, the brand was using nine indirect partners including Amobee, Undertone, and DoubleClick. Direct spend accounted for three quarters of the brand’s ad budget and top sites included Weather.com, WebMD, and Coupons.com.
In September of this year, direct spend grew to consume almost all of GlaxoSmithKline’s display ad budget, with Amazon’s ad network representing a trace amount of spend. The brand’s top sites are still the same, but with more budget funneled through direct only buys. The advertiser doubled down on the sites that work best for their brand, while cutting out superfluous sites and partners that they do not have as much control over.
TracFone Wireless, Inc.
During March of 2016, TracFone’s advertising peaked on over 3,300 sites, falling to a low of 2,300 sites in September of 2016. Skipping to September of 2017, TracFone ran ads on just under 600 sites, slashing their site list significantly compared to historical trends.
The brand flipped their buying strategy completely year-over-year, funneling only 16% of their display ad budget to direct buys in September, 2016 compared to 78% of their budget in September of this year. TracFone has also switched up their partner list, dropping Dstillery, Amobee, and the Trade Desk, amongst others, from their mix now opting for Affiperf and Amazon’s ad network.
Spend has stayed relatively consistent for the brand over time, with overall display impressions dropping only slightly. TracFone’s top sites have minimally changed to include Amazon, Walmart, and Twitch.TV. Continuing the trend, the company has focused their digital spend towards their top performing sites while cutting the clutter.
Other brands that have sliced their site list include Toyota, T-Mobile, Acura, JP Morgan Chase & Co., Hewlett-Packard, and Purina Petcare, amongst others. Digital advertising intelligence solutions, like Pathmatics, show you not only the sites your brand is running digital creatives on, but also the sites your competitors are targeting.
This information makes it easier to audit inefficient buys, and identify the partners that placed you on specific sites to tailor your ad strategy better to align with your goals. See which sites your brand is running on with a free Brand Report.