January 2017 was a turning point for advertisers employing programmatic advertising as part of their marketing plans. It was when Marc Pritchard, CMO at P&G slammed the “crappy media supply chain” calling it “murky at best and fraudulent at worst.” This was followed by the Times expose on brands unintentionally “funding terror” as their ads appeared across extremist and unsavoury content on YouTube.
The key issues that were brought to the fore were:
- Transparency across the Supply Chain
- Brand Safety
These areas should be the starting point for any advertiser looking to work with a media agency or direct with a programmatic technology provider.
Transparency across the Supply Chain
Start with the Demand-Side Supply Chain because that is where, as an advertiser, you are closest to. It consists of you the Advertiser, the agency, the trading desk, the DSP and the Exchange. Part of what Marc Pritchard was referring to was confirmed by the damning report Programmatic: Seeing Through the Financial Fog carried out by ANA, Ebiquity, ACA and AD/FIN. The goal of the report was to investigate the costs and economics of the programmatic advertising ecosystem. However, the most telling part of the research was that out of the initial 58 advertisers interested in participating, only 28 advertisers signed and just 7 fully participated. Why? Several advertisers were discouraged to participate after their agency and/or trade desk discouraged them. Other reasons named included lack of technical ability across DSPs and trading desks to generate logs and disclosure agreement discrepancies whereby DSPs were contracted by the agency or trading desk and so advertisers were unable to enforce disclosure. Clearly certain parties have something to hide or have just not set themselves up in an honest way and geared towards the advertiser.
Define accountability & collaborate
Put it in writing. The role of the agency or trade desk is to act in the advertiser’s best interest, which means the advertiser is entitled to transparency and data ownership. You can make this crystal clear by addressing the topic from the outset and taking an open and collaborative approach. Then add it to the contract.
Improve your understanding of the programmatic landscape. Marketers must familiarise themselves with the programmatic architecture and decide what is needed and what is simply deadweight. By opting for a disclosed model, you have access to transaction data, fees and costs across the supply chain which means you have greater control and the ability to optimise.
Define roles and responsibilities. Advertisers must realise they cannot squeeze the supply chain for all they can. Instead, there must be negotiation and honesty. There should be open lines of communication first and foremost with their agency and technology partners. As an advertiser, if you aren’t receiving this, you should be asking yourself why. Clear KPIs must be set and agreed upon from the beginning. The customer must come first and if your partners aren’t taking a customer-centric approach there are plenty others that will.
A survey carried out by Teads last year questioned 100 CMOs and marketing VPs at UK companies with a turnover of at least £20m on the video advertising marketplace. It found 95% of CMOs said they have overhauled their digital strategies following widespread publicity about brand safety, fraud and transparency.
Brand safety and fraud are two of the most significant challenges in the digital marketplace. Growing usage of exchanges and larger amounts of data collection have raised concerns around privacy and fraud. Following the investigation by The Times, it is clear there has been a turning point in the issue of control and transparency.
Adopt Brand Safety Measures
Whilst the answer to some may have initially been to switch off the programmatic taps, the fact remains, the automated buying of media is much more efficient and targeted than traditional media buying. In fact, the global programmatic market is set to grow to $36.8 billion in 2019 according to Magna Global.
Mitigate risk. As the brand keeper, it is the advertiser’s responsibility to have a holistic view of all the safeguards that can be put in place. You can employ a number of filtering techniques and pattern recognition strategies that ensure brand safety and quality traffic. These can range from manual whitelisting/blacklisting of sites to putting in place third-party technology vendors that can apply further levels of brand safety protection.
In summary, as a marketer tasked with managing and activating valuable data and coupled with the need to prove effectiveness and deliver results, programmatic can be looked on as the automated approach to address those needs.