In 2016, 73% of advertisers’ total display budgets were spent on programmatic. And for good reason: programmatic ad buying gives advertisers the ability to target specific audiences wherever they go across the web.

But some advertisers are becoming more selective about where they’ll target consumers using programmatic platforms.

For example, according to MasterCard CMO Raja Rajamannar, ”we don’t want to be anywhere and everywhere.”

He explained to AdWeek, “We stick to reputed sites. We don’t just go into programmatic and give a price point and buy everywhere. We have a whitelist so we said, ‘We want to [only] be on these sites,’ which really helps with mitigating if not eliminating ad fraud.”

As a result, Rajamannar says that ad fraud is a minor problem for the financial services giant.

The virtues of whitelists and blacklists

MasterCard’s programmatic pickiness highlights the value of using whitelists and blacklists.

While extensive use of these lists would appear to be at odds with the promise of programmatic – the ability to target audiences instead of properties – the reality is that it’s increasingly difficult for advertisers to take a hands-off, anywhere and everywhere approach to ad buys.

That kind of approach exposes advertisers to ad fraud, and leaves their ads vulnerable to placement on low-quality sites that have been created to exploit the complex digital advertising ecosystem.

These low-quality sites include fake news operations, which have come under scrutiny following claims that they may have impacted the results of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The Times of London recently brought attention to brand safety in programmatic

Of course, putting whitelists and blacklists to use requires extra work on the part of advertisers, and isn’t without its challenges. Advertisers using whitelists can find that their programmatic campaigns are less effective if the universe of properties they have whitelisted is too small, while those using blacklists can find that keeping up with bad actors is incredibly difficult.

Does the future belong to private exchanges?

Given the challenges, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that private exchanges are on the rise.

According to a recent survey conducted by the World Federation of Advertisers, more than two-thirds of respondents are investing more dollars into private exchanges.

And soon, advertisers will have even more options for buying high-quality inventory in programmatic fashion as premium publishers, which comScore says can deliver greater brand lift than their non-premium counterparts, are banding together to form programmatic cooperatives like TrustX.

As the amount of inventory private exchanges and cooperatives like TrustX make available grows, it should become easier for advertisers to use programmatic to be anywhere and everywhere worth being without many of the headaches they currently face.

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