Blog

Mar 21 '17

Truth Translates to Transparency

Over the past year, there has been significant discussion in the marketing arena regarding the lack of transparency as it pertains to media buying. This issue was compounded in recent months when Facebook and other online publishers were exposed for over-projecting consumer viewership, resulting in advertisers paying for viewership they didn’t receive.

In 2016, digital advertising was projected to exceed TV ad spending and now represents over 35% of total ad spend. The digital advertising ecosystem includes over a million sites, involving hundreds of technology vendors.  The industry has been beset by those who have inserted themselves into the supply chain, deceiving and defrauding legitimate industry participants. Ernst and Young reports over $8.2 billion was lost to fraudulent traffic, infringed content and combating malware. According to the research, more than half the money spent in the digital advertising ecosystem derives from “non-human traffic” or fake advertising impressions that are neither generated by real advertisers nor received by actual consumers.

On top of that, the industry was also plagued by the “Methbot Operation,” a sophisticated Russian-based organization that spoofed online video advertising on a massive scale, generating up to 300 million bogus video views daily and raking in upwards of $5 million per day from U.S. advertisers, according to a report from security firm White Ops. The “Methbot” crew targeted premium programmatic video ad inventory and made the impressions appear for sale on ad markets as premium ad spots on name-brand websites.

No doubt the industry finds itself in a very defensive position and needs to take action. Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer at P&G, recently stated that he is initiating new protective measures requiring P&G’s agency partners and vendors to report on the third party measurement and viewability standards sanctioned by the IAB and MRC, including the likes of the infamous “walled gardens” like Facebook which for a long time was a holdout for outside measurement. Consistency and reliability in measurement is what Pritchard is pushing for and all agencies can and should get on board with that.

For Cronin, “Measure True” is part of our mantra! There are several tools that exist today that we use to monitor performance for our clients’ campaigns.

Tools that monitor fraud, brand safety and viewability include the likes of Moat and WhiteOps, while proof of performance can be monitored and assessed using ad servers like Double Click in tandem with website analytic programs like Coremetrics and/or Google Analytics.

And most recently, there are certifications from TAG (Trustworthy Accountability Group) that agencies, publishers and anyone involved with the digital advertising ecosystem can earn. TAG is a first-of-its-kind, cross-industry accountability program fighting fraudulent activity across the digital advertising supply chain. TAG works collaboratively with companies throughout the supply chain in four areas critical to the continued growth of the industry: eliminating fraud, combating malware, fighting internet piracy and promoting transparency.

Agencies and clients alike should be cognizant of this new certification which will go a long way in restoring and maintaining credibility within the ever-growing digital advertising industry. TAG conducts a propriety background check and review process for all new registrants to assure brands that they are doing business with responsible partners and vendors.

Our media-neutral approach ensures we select the best performing media to meet our clients’ objectives. As part of an ongoing effort to ensure we are doing everything we can to protect our clients, we have long adhered to the 4A’s “Transparency Guiding Principles of Conduct” for media planning and buying. We are also in the process of becoming TAG certified. It benefits all of us to exercise greater diligence and transparency.

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