Why we must demistify the digital landscape

Adela Blackford, Marketing Manager at Admedo, writes about how marketers can tackle the transparency issues addressing the programmatic landscape.

Adela Blackford

eMarketer estimates that by 2018 programmatic buying will make up: 43 percent of mobile, 74 percent of online video and 82 percent of digital display. Therefore, knowing the journey of your digital dollars is hugely important.

Addressing the issues within the digital landscape

The countless scandals that have surfaced on prominent global agencies accused of having undisclosed sums of incomes, carrying out opaque and nefarious practices that walked the fine line between unethical and illegal are enough for any marketer to be apprehensive.

When Khalil Ibrahimi MD of Admedo revealed earlier this year that he had witnessed certain agency organisations categorising clients using a colour system; clients categorised as red can be ‘burned and churned,’ whilst clients categorised as green signifies that the agency needs to be particularly careful as they are at risk of being audited, further highlighted the issues within digital.

Whilst these practices are inherent in an increasingly complex media ad-buying ecosystem and industry that has seen rapid growth, there are clear steps marketers can take to prevent being victim to this. Every marketer will recall when Marc Pritchard, CMO at P&G slammed the “crappy media supply chain” calling it “murky at best and fraudulent at worst.” It was a turning point the industry needed.

42% of each programmatic dollar is spent on non-working media, in some cases reaching 70%. According to a survey carried out by ANA (the Association of National Advertisers), Ebiquity, ACA and AD/FIN into the costs and economics of the programmatic advertising ecosystem

The “programmatic tech tax” across the Demand Supply Chain is an alarming stat. What is most telling was the high correlation between advertisers which used an agency trading desk and those which could not participate in the study due to non-cooperation or non-access to transaction level data.

Defining accountability & collaborating as an industry

For me, I think there are two areas which stand out as to why the tech tax has come about. There is the greed element - if there is an opportunity to capitalise then there will be someone there to improve on their lot. And on the other side, 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 between advertiser, agency and technology partners. If this isn’t being received, then the question is why not? Clear KPIs must be set and agreed upon from the beginning. The customer must come first for a customer-centric approach.

Silos between partners and technology vendors must be broken down. If achieving a seamless customer experience is an advertiser’s top goal (which it should be), reducing the disconnect between programmatic and creative must be an area of focus. Programmatic is not simply a means to deliver an ad, and creative cannot be built separately from the data. For meaningful consumer experience to be created the two must go hand in hand for an advertiser’s business grow.

Control and transparency

Marketers must familiarise themselves with the programmatic architecture and decide what is needed and what is simply deadweight. If an advertiser is working with an agency, trade desk or direct with a technology partner, they must all have the advertiser’s best interests at heart. The ANA survey found that with the proper disclosure agreements in place the advertisers had greater control opposed to those that did not have a non-disclosure agreement. Having the ability to access transaction data, fees, and costs across the supply chain is a great way of seeing exactly where the digital dollar ends up and all parties can see the true performance of their programmatic campaigns.

Attribution and measurement

A final suggestion, be cautious of those that “mark their own homework”. We’ve seen a couple titans called out various times. Data is the glue to an advertiser’s marketing initiatives and with so many data sources, marketers need their data to be tracked in order to personalise and effectively scale their marketing communications to the right audiences. Implementing a robust attribution and measurement system through a trusted third party enables marketers to collate all performance data in a centralised location, where actionable insights can be identified and adopted without that niggling concern in the back of their mind that those figures may be overinflated or just totally off the mark.

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