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US advertisers are set to spend close to $16 billion dollars on digital display ads bought in real-time on private marketplaces (PMPs) by 2021, according to the latest forecast from eMarketer. The analysis also predicts that the dollars spent via PMPs will overtake that of open exchanges next year.

In terms of the definitions, eMarketer describes PMPs as auctions run by a single publisher or a small group of publishers and open only to select buyers. Open exchanges are public real-time bidding (RTB) auctions that are open to all buyers and sellers.

The shift to PMPs over open exchanges may be due to continuing concerns over brand safety.  Research from Advertiser Perceptions has found that fraud (specifically viewability and the issue of non-human traffic), brand safety concerns and poor inventory quality were the most commonly cited issues in programmatic ad buying, with concerns of fraud having grown considerably in less than a year.

On the topic of brand safety, data from Oath shows that while 7 in 10 advertisers believe that DSPs and exchanges are addressing their concerns, more than 4 in 10 (45%) are moving spend to well-regarded premium publishers. Earlier in 2018, it was found that the proportion of content flagged for brand risk to advertisers had doubled from 2.3% to 4.5%.

From a performance perspective, programmatic ad buys typically have lower viewability rates than publisher direct deals, according to data from Integral Ad Science.

In short, PMPs can act as an effective midway point between open exchanges and traditional, direct ad buys on premium publisher sites – coupled with the scalability and cost-efficiency offered by programmatic ad buying. With the growth figures predicted, it suggests that this approach will become favored over time.

In the executive summary of its programmatic report, eMarketer also predicts that by 2021, just 17% of total programmatic ad dollars (which includes native, social and video ads) will still go to the open markets.

The data with further analysis can be found here.

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