Three years after the Association of National Advertisers’ groundbreaking report on the need for transparency, our industry is still failing to fully address the root of the issue.
The report, prepared by K2 Intelligence for the ANA, found that “non-transparent business practices” were “pervasive” in media buying agencies. It called out programmatic advertising for “black box” procedures that consumed as much as 90% of media spend and did little or nothing to aid ROI.
There has been progress. In programmatic, brand marketers are shifting budgets to more reputable publishers and using contracts that demand proof that ads have appeared as promised. They pay for only verified, viewable delivery in reputable brand-safe environments.
Standards, too, have advanced. The ANA last year updated guidelines and better aligned with the IAB’s definition of programmatic. Six major advertising exchanges signed a letter from the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) promising to make programmatic buying and selling more efficient, transparent and fair.
All of us needs to leave behind the poor proxies for success most often used to measure programmatic campaigns.
Despite the progress, nearly 60% of brand professionals still say the lack of media quality transparency is a threat to digital advertising budgets. A recent industry-wide survey found “transparency” to be the most important word of 2018 and predicted it will remain in the top five this year. And amid continued demands for transparency, one of the industry’s most prominent voices—P&G’s chief brand officer Marc Pritchard—called for a new media supply chain with transparency at its heart.
It’s about value
But all these moves, while extremely welcome, still fail to address the issue at the heart of the challenge of transparency: a collective failure to prove value.
You see, far from delivering the accountability that was promised, increasing complexity, especially in digital and programmatic media, has made the link between advertising channels and sales even harder to understand.
In a survey of 5,000 marketers across 16 of the biggest marketers globally, 71% agreed it had become more difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of their digital media investments in the last five years. It is this fact, alongside the huge growth in programmatic spend, that has led advertisers to question their investments and scrutinize the digital supply chain.