Media buyers want more direct paths to inventory analysis

Inaugural study investigates evolving programmatic advertising industry and buyer trends.

London, 02 April, 2020:  Advertisers and agencies want more direct ways to purchase premium inventory as supply path optimisation (SPO), brand safety and transparency issues continue to be a concern.  Media spend on inventory sold direct using ads.txt, the IAB programmatic advertising transparency initiative, increased 45% in Q4 2019 compared to the equivalent period in 2018, while spend on reseller and unauthorised supply decreased. 

The preference for direct ads.txt buyer paths is a key finding of the first Programmatic Insights study from BidSwitch, a wholly owned subsidiary of IPONWEB and global provider of programmatic infrastructure. The research compared aggregated data from 2018 and 2019 (with a focus on Q4 for each year) to understand how the programmatic industry is changing.

The increased focus on transparency, along with privacy regulation, also saw media buyers willing to pay a premium for direct transactions with publishers, demonstrated by higher revenue figures for media trading undertaken via marketplaces. Deals in private marketplaces saw eCPMs (effective cost per thousand) that were 3.2 times higher than inventory sold across the open exchange; public deals were 1.7 higher.

In addition, ad impressions that are not matched through cookies were found to have eCPMs that were a third of those that use cookie syncing. This potentially makes them a cost-effective route to buying premium inventory (and may indicate future  CPMs if workable alternatives to the -third-party cookie are not found before Chrome’s deprecation).

BidSwitch’s platform-neutral programmatic ‘pipes’ connect supply and demand technology partners around the world.  This enables it to analyse almost 50 trillion anonymous user ad requests every quarter, putting the company in a unique position to see the macro trends impacting programmatic advertising across display, mobile, native, video, TV and digital out-of-home (DOOH).

Other findings of the BidSwitch study include:

  • Emerging channels are being adopted as ‘traditional’ media moves to programmatic. Bid requests for DOOH inventory grew 107% between 2018 and 2019, connected TV was up 39% and audio increased 16%.
  • Native advertising is increasingly strong.  Bid requests for native ad spots grew 70% during 2019, compared to the 7.5% increase seen by display (although CPMs for each category are similar).
  • First price auctions accounted for almost half (48.25%) of media spend in 2019, compared to second price, representing a 181% year-on-year growth.
  • Header bidding spend grew 54% globally in Q4 2019 and eCPMs were up 18%.

Barry Adams, general manager at BidSwitch, says: “With unique visibility of programmatic media trading activity, BidSwitch can provide an informed snapshot of the industry.  The drive to optimise the supply path, comply with privacy regulation, and improve brand safety and transparency promotes the value of direct transactions with publishers as well as the ads.txt initiative.  In addition, cost-effective ways to secure premium inventory is valuable knowledge for ad buyers as the world moves away from third party cookies.”

Programmatic Insights: 2018 vs 2019 is available to download.

Data for the BidSwitch study was obtained during the period January 2018 to December 2019, with an emphasis on the final quarter for each year.  It analysed more than 364 trillion bid requests to determine the results.



About BidSwitch:

Engineered by IPONWEB, BidSwitch helps programmatic ad-tech and media companies overcome increasing marketplace complexity by providing partners an efficient and transparent way to manage access to supply and demand at global scale. Unlike an exchange, BidSwitch operates as a neutral, infrastructure network, intelligently routing and filtering the bidstream to ensure optimized, non-fraudulent access for buyers and sellers. Today, BidSwitch facilitates more than 350 supply and demand technology partners globally to connect and trade media across the display, mobile, video TV, native and DOOH ecosystems, all via a single standardized integration. Visit to learn more.


IPONWEB is an industry pioneer and world leader in the engineering and operation of highly customized, real-time media trading systems for publishers, advertisers, agencies and innovative technology companies. With more than 15 years’ experience driving innovation in the ad exchange and real-time technology space, IPONWEB is the ‘behind the scenes’ technology provider that many of the world’s leading industry players rely on to successfully power their media and data businesses. Visit to learn more.