In the early 2010s, a few assumptions seemed undeniable for media buyers.
They believed programmatic was growing rapidly with user-level targeting, for example, providing never-before-seen efficiency. They understood that buying this way was complicated, requiring a new kind of expertise at the agency and marketer level. And they saw the supply of inventory as unlimited, expecting prices to crash in a race to zero.
That last one turned out not to be true. Far from it. What we’re learning today on the buy side is that the real amount of good-quality supply is not only limited, but requires effort to get to. This has long been a criticism of programmatic from savvy publishers managing the fallout from increasingly lower yields, but their voices were dismissed by eager buyers who only cared about $1 inventory.
What caused that “unlimited” supply to become very limited during the last five years?
Bots: By some accounts early on, it may have been 20%.