One of the problems, Pantke said, is that “the German publishers market is dominated by leading media companies. Currently they [publishers] are still a little hesitant to handle their inventory via RTB and are therefore testing different strategies for their yield management."
Another challenge German companies face is similar to one faced worldwide: the need for analysts to interpret the data and provide insights into the ad inventory. “Agencies and clients need experts and analysts for this kind of media trading,” Pantke noted. “And if we sell anonymized user profiles via RTB, we need to enrich these profiles with third-party data. But in Germany the privacy protection rules are very different and much more strict than in the US.”
Last year, 40 German advertising associations launched the “German Data Protection Council for Online Advertising,” a self-regulated initiative to oversee the German online behavioral advertising sector and introduce transparency into its practices.
The initiative includes codes of conduct for participating advertisers and an OBA icon similar to the United States' blue “AdChoices” icon that enables users to obtain more information about the data being collected about them and must appear in the online ads of participating advertisers. It is unclear how successful the German initiative has been.
Germany and the United Kingdom, Western Europe’s largest ad markets, are forecast to reach $28.7 billion and $26.5 billion, respectively, in total media ad spending for 2014, according to eMarketer. The US is expected to hit $177.8 billion in media ad spending by next year.