When Auctions Aren’t Auctions

We all think we know what an auction is. We conjure up the sound of the gavel falling to the high bidder and the horses being led away into the winner’s transporters.

In theory, programmatic auctions for digital advertising should be similar. Maybe they’re second-price, but we think that aside from the technology we understand the rules.

Or do we?

This article in Digiday about the shenanigans in programmatic auctions is fascinating. Here’s another set of questions for your agency:

  1. For each network that we’re buying on, what’s the auction model?
  2. Prove it
  3. Warranty it

Something I just noticed: I’m filing all articles about programmatic buying in my Evernote “Ad Fraud” notebook. Hmm.

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