A New Era for Advertising Transparency Is Here

February 14, 2017
by Jeff Green – CEO and Founder

At this year’s IAB Leadership Summit, P&G’s brand chief, Marc Pritchard laid into Google and Facebook’s ‘walled gardens’ and demanded transparency from the digital supply chain telling attendees, “We need better advertising to drive growth, enabled by media transparency, to drive a clean and productive media supply chain.”

I commend P&G’s leadership on this issue. The future of the Internet will remain ad-funded. To thrive, it will require a more deliberate and thoughtful approach to targeting and measurement than we have today. Our industry needs to work together to embrace industry-wide transparency and viewability standards to combat poor media supply chain practices.

Some advertisers believe that the walled garden platforms are a ‘must have’ on their media plan. But there is so little targeting capability, and only rudimentary reporting, that they’re simply not a rational place for marketers to emphasize their ad spending.

All media buying should be fully transparent with no hidden fees. In addition, it should be informed by useful data to make decisions. We should be valuing impressions just like traders value stocks. One of the biggest issues in advertising is price discovery, and if there’s anything that we’ve learned from financial markets in the last 10 years, it’s that you cannot have a healthy market without price discovery. This requires having good data and metrics. Only then, when you know what you’re buying and can measure the real impact that any given ad placement can have, will we start to see price discovery.

Furthermore, the industry’s transparency issue is exacerbated when ad-tech companies look more like media companies. Many have business models where they represent both the buyer and the seller at the same time. This creates an internal conflict that leads to a lack of transparency. It also means these players are likely to bias their own media instead of looking in an unbiased way across all possible media options at any given moment. This is why we only represent media buyers. This clarity of purpose enables us to be free of conflicts of interest.

In the pursuit of transparency, marketers should focus their efforts on holistic, multi-channel media buying strategies across the open Internet ecosystem. This will allow advertisers to execute campaigns across all digital channels—display, movie, video, audio, TV, native, and social—and across all devices. And by optimizing from a single platform, agencies and their clients are empowered to gauge effectiveness by the strength of their connection with the audience, not just by crude metrics like the number of people reached.

Bottom line—there is a win-win for advertisers, publishers, and also consumers. Advertising has to become more relevant and more meaningful. Targeting has to get better. Measurement has to get a lot better. And to really move the needle on any of this, our industry has got to reduce the conflict of interest it has accepted in the past.