User Experience in Ad Tech Sucks and No One Seems to Care

The internet is littered with articles berating ad tech for the complexity of the system. And it’s true, the process of an automated ad impression reaching a specific user the moment he or she opens a webpage is complex, some would argue unnecessarily so. But a fundamental and vastly overlooked aspect of this complexity is rooted in the software that powers the process.

The platforms we use to employ programmatic technology are at the heart of the digital ad ecosystem, and the hard truth is that user experience in ad tech sucks, and no one seems to notice or even care.

For marketers and media buyers who run campaigns on a daily basis, most have become blind to the complexity they encounter. Just as no one enjoys a Facebook UI update, many advertisers and media buyers might cringe at the thought of changing the user interface of a Demand Side Platform they have painstakingly learned inside and out.

In an article titled “The Future of Media Trading is No Trading at All” StackAdapt Co-Founder and COO Vitaly Pecherskiy points out, “We are highly attuned to user experience gaps in social media or banking apps, yet we readily accept deficiencies in B2B software that supposedly helps us do our jobs. In a homage to the early 2000s, complexity is even lauded as ‘state-of-art’.”

According to eMarketer, 84% of brand advertisers worldwide want more control over their programmatic efforts, but only 2% have actually taken concrete steps to do so. What do these numbers tell us? Brands lack the resources and knowledge to bring programmatic in-house, and at the same time, many Demand Side Platforms seem more than happy to keep things status quo: “The amount of the complexity is overwhelming, and it almost feels intentional in a way that perpetuates most of the players in the space,” stated Sim Blaustein, partner at Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments at the recent Luma Partners Digital Media Summit.

Senior Customer Success Manager and former media buyer Chris St. John points out, “One of the reasons there is so much confusion on strategy rollout in ad tech, is that there are too many options to execute a successful campaign, whether through bid, creative, targeting, etc. The experience would be greatly improved if there was a centralized source, created with a mandate to innovate ad tech by investing in automation, standardization, and educating the average marketer.”

The reality is, rocket science like software is adding to the complex and muddy nature of the advertising technology landscape.

How can ad tech begin to clean itself up without first bringing intuitive design, automation, standardization, and data intelligence to the technology that launches those ads in the first place?

We’ll be the first to admit that programmatic advertising still requires a good deal of strategy. Any programmatic platform that claims to be 100% plug & play is flat out bluffing. But it seems that more intuitive and intelligent UI would benefit both brands and agencies.

Brands—by making in-house adoption easier for those who have the resources to support in-house talent, and agencies—by not only being able to easily show concrete results to clients, but also by allowing them to more easily illustrate what they do on a day to day basis.

At StackAdapt, we’ve made it our mission to improve the lives of digital advertisers, marketers and media buyers by levelling the playing field when it comes to programmatic. In the coming months, we’ll take a major leap forward in actualizing on that mission by overhauling user experience on our platform. For example, we’re creating an API integration that will power advertising solutions.

Programmatic still has its challenges in today’s market, but one’s ability to understand how to build a campaign, optimize for success, and easily integrate and report analytics should be increasingly straightforward. Implementing a native, video or display campaign should feel as intuitive as posting to social media.

Here’s What We’re Updating:

1. Performance, Performance, Performance

Backend performance will be significantly improved, especially when it comes to an overview of campaign performance statistics. We’re also making it easier for our engineers to continually innovate the platform. Our goal is to eventually hardwire success into the platform, eliminating wrong turns and the option of failure.

2. Improved Design, Simpler Navigation

According to UX Designer Kristen Singh, “While we spent time making sure things are aesthetically sound, a lot of work has gone into making interactions seamless, frequently used features more accessible, and totally rethinking the way some things are created. Our aim isn’t to fix what isn’t broken, but to make it better through feedback from users, and testing fresh ideas that may or may not be totally crazy. One example is in campaign creation where we investigated common processes of creating a campaign, and how that flow could be shorter and more efficient.”

3. Additional Functionality & More Transparency

We’ll make it easier to personalize your experience and focus on what matters to you. For example, our upcoming Dashboard presets feature allows you to save your display settings and change between multiple presets all with one click.

And we’re only just getting started. It’s time to fix the user experience problem in ad tech, one step at a time.

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