The Risk of Programmatic Advertising: Effects of Website Quality on Advertising Effectiveness

Edlira Shehu, Nadia Abou Nabout*, Michel Clement

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Programmatic advertising is prevalent in online advertising. However, it offers managers limited control over the type of website where the ad appears, resulting in brand safety issues. Aware of the risk that ads may potentially display on websites of poor quality (nonpremium websites), managers have developed strategies to reduce this risk. Due to the lack of empirical insights, these strategies are based on “gut feeling” and depend on campaign type (branding versus performance) and brand type (premium versus nonpremium). Our research addresses this void and analyzes website quality effects for premium and nonpremium brands in branding and performance campaigns. Our results show that effects, indeed, vary depending on campaign and brand type, but not in ways that managers might expect. When a branding ad appears on a nonpremium website, attitudes towards the ad and the brand deteriorate, but only for premium brands. In contrast, website quality does not affect awareness for either type of brand. When a performance ad appears on a nonpremium website, it generates fewer clicks; this effect is stronger for premium brands. Overall, these findings enrich our understanding of the consequences of programmatic advertising and highlight the crucial role of website quality dependent on campaign goal and brand type.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Research in Marketing
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)663-677
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

Published online: 30. October 2020.


  • Website Quality
  • Online Advertising Effectiveness
  • Programmatic Advertising

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