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With Isba’s study revealing that 15% of digital ad spend is unaccounted for, a statistic from the PwC-produced report that prompted headlines, Damon Reeve, chief executive of The Ozone Project, offers his first-hand insight into what this means for the programmatic sector.

The results from Isba’s Programmatic Supply Chain Transparency Study, carried out by PwC and in association with the AOP, have practically self-penned the industry’s headlines for the past few days.

“Missing billions”, “big holes”, “the unknown delta”, “mind-boggling” – perhaps not the usual words used to describe a positive first step, yet that’s exactly what this report represents. If, as an industry, we want to create a more sustainable, future-proofed environment for digital advertising we must first acknowledge that things aren’t working as they are. These results certainly speak to what many people already know, and reinforces the need for change.

As we look to create a blueprint for that change, it is a great step forward that it has been driven by advertisers and publishers – as the principal architects – alongside their respective trade bodies. Reversing the trend of disintermediation by programmatic tech vendors, and working together to find their voice, albeit of frustration, is one of the best outcomes of this study, and why it must be a first step and not an end in itself.

In the interests of disclosure, The Ozone Project is an advertiser-led business created by publishers and was developed to tackle many of the issues highlighted in this report. We see ourselves as a significant catalyst for the shift towards a more grown-up advertising environment, one less willing to accept the past shortcomings of programmatic.

The answer is not just what to do next, it’s how we do it

As we entered the 2020s I was convinced we would see an adult programmatic self emerge; still with lots of growth and development ahead, but also less wild and irresponsible than the younger child of the 2010s. Given some of the research in this report was produced in Q1 2020, it’s clear there is still much to do before a more mature self emerges. Nine weeks of Covid-19 isolation has given much time to reflect, and it seems how we go about change will be as important as what we change.

Firstly, collaboration must be front and centre. Through their trade bodies, advertisers and publishers have highlighted some of programmatic’s most persistent problems. An astonishing insight from the report is the confusion over whether advertisers and publishers have the right to access the log data for campaigns they are running. The answer to that question should not require consulting a legal department.

The programmatic supply chain should genuinely work in the best interests of publishers and brands. Together they must build on this work to address one of the critical recommendations from the report; standardising terms and conditions for buyers and sellers, while creating consistent data taxonomies and data sharing rules. This first step will help close the somewhat unhelpful gap that has developed between advertisers and publishers within programmatic advertising.

Secondly, while transparency is at the heart of this study, it isn’t something to fix, it is a way to behave. The ‘opacity by design’ approach that has challenged the sector for years represents institutionalised behaviour that will require a concerted effort to correct. Being open, authentic and human in terms and conditions will be deemed important qualities, rather than hiding the ‘unknown delta’ in technical terms and jargon that almost no one understands. Patience has been worn paper-thin amongst advertisers and publishers, and in this new future we will see vendors and partners selected on operating principles as much as technical capabilities.

A starting point for what to do next

The insights and recommendations from the report itself provide a framework for where future focus must be directed.

As already mentioned, standardising terms and conditions through Isba and the AOP is an obvious next step to remove much of the friction and confusion that exists today. It took PwC more than nine months to receive the information for its analysis, with an often ‘round the houses’, confused approach to who could give permission to use the data.

Brand safety has been high on the marketer agenda during these challenging times with a specific focus from Newsworks’ #BackdontBlock campaign. This new analysis should enable further grown-up conversations around brand safety generally, particularly as the study’s advertisers appeared on an average of 40,524 different domains. That’s not a misprint. 40,524 different websites. How many websites do you visit on a regular basis? Even looking beyond the first page of the Comscore top 3,000 yields some very random websites. Only 19% of campaign impressions were delivered on premium publisher domains, with the vast majority appearing on other websites and the unregulated long-tail of the internet. Responsible advertisers will no doubt be asking questions about where their advertising is going, and what exactly it is funding.

Next, the ‘unknown delta’ needs to become known. In an automated world, one would expect any margin for error to be reduced, and therefore any major gap is concerning. While many have offered thoughts as to why – from currency fluctuations to the compound impact of rounding through the supply chain – it’s important to remember that this 15% ‘unknown delta’ appears in the very small proportion of data that could be matched for the purposes of the study. If this reflects the ‘best of the best’ – major advertisers working with the most premium publishers – the 15% delta will be significantly bigger with smaller sites and smaller advertisers that weren’t measurable.

A final point not specifically called out in this report but to me is inferred in every insight and recommendation, is aligning incentives for each participant in the supply chain to the value they provide. And this extends to the agreements brands have with their media agencies. It will be very difficult to move to a trusted grown-up programmatic ecosystem if each actor is trying to game the system, whether through opportunity or necessity. Remove the incentive for opacity and we build an advertising environment that we all want. It’s on advertisers and publishers to build on this study and remove these incentives.

“The market is damn near impenetrable.”

In last week’s Financial Times, the frustration of Phil Smith, Isba’s director-general, regarding the programmatic world couldn’t have been more obvious. Yet with some time to reflect and digest, what is becoming increasingly clear is that this first-of-its-kind collaborative study has already laid great foundations for building a better future for digital advertising.

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Sourced from The Drum

 

 

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Google is to take direct action against approximately 1,000 online publishers which it has identified as being responsible for the use of ‘highly annoying, misleading or harmful’ ads as it steps up efforts to protect its reputation.

The move will see brands such as Forbes, The Los Angeles Times; and The Independent issued with an email warning them that their advertising falls foul of the Better Ads Standard, established by a coalition of advertisers, media channels and technology firms; together with a link to its Ad Experience Report from where they can test their sites to see which ads must be removed.

Google is taking a lead role in the campaign having already pledged to bar bad ads from its Chrome browser from early next year, meaning browsers can use the web without fear of stumbling upon irksome popups, autoplay videos with sound and too many simultaneous adverts.

Google’s director of product management, Scott Spencer said: “We are doing this so they have ample time to change their ad experiences so there are no violations or concerns about anything. We provide the tool that’s just telling people what’s happening on their site and many publishers want to do the right thing, but some might not even know that there are annoying ads on their site.”

The Better Ads Standard is composed of Facebook, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, The Washington Post, the Interactive Advertising Bureau, GroupM and the Association of National Advertisers among others.

Google removed no less than 1.7bn ‘bad ads’ in 2016 but has struggled to put a lid on advertising fraud.

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Sourced from THE DRUM

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Ad-related fraud is a very real problem that has been puzzling everyone in the industry from small business owners who wish to do new marketing campaigns to giants like Google and Facebook.

According to a study by WWP, the revenue of global advertising wasted on fraudulent traffic and clicks generated by bots will reach $16.4 billion in 2017, double the $7.2 billion figure estimated last year.

But what issues lie at the core of this problem?

1. Expecting instant gratification in the ad industry

The concept of instant gratification is plaguing more areas than just the ad industry but it is a real problem here as well. Those marketing consultants who mislead clients to believe that ad campaigns will yield immediate results share some part of the blame here.

Education is the most important alternative. For instance, educating the clients on the difference of ads placed on Google and Facebook.

When ads appear on a search engine, users are much more likely to engage because the ads are relevant to what they are currently doing, e.g. when searching for a product.

In social media platforms, however, ads are much more disruptive and not necessarily intuitive to the user experience.

2. Influencer marketing is on the rise

The advertising industry is a game that constantly changes yet many advertisers and marketers still want to cling on to more traditional methods.

However, new concepts like influencer marketing present new opportunities which should be grabbed immediately.

For instance, why waste so much money in ad traffic and clicks when it is very hard to tell how users engage with faceless ads?

Instead, influencer marketers can get products and brands in front of people who will actually care about them and who will actively engage with the brand.

Consumers are more tech-savvy than ever and ad-blocking is a very natural concept for most. Instead of more money being wasted in ads that will never be seen by real users, marketers should redirect their clients to better methods.

3. Not enough effort is put in generating real interest in brands

Ads, even when they are well-made, are rarely enough to generate a real interest in a brand. Even if a brand is already well-known, more positive exposure is always welcome.

The strategic model of ACM – Audience, Content, and Moderation – used by BHIVE is a prime example of how to approach new digital marketing campaigns.

Those three parts are vital to connecting with the target audience, engaging them with relevant content, and realizing the value of each brand.

4. Social media and its associated costs are integral parts of business

That most business should be on social media is an undeniable fact. That they should factor in any associated costs as part of their business, however, is something that many business owners are unwilling to accept.

Anyone who conducts any kind of business through Facebook should accept that social media is an investment, and calculate things like ROI accordingly.

5. Platforms like Facebook are walled gardens

Social media platforms like Facebook basically act like walled gardens. While you can gain access to what it can offer, you will not only have to pay for that privilege but its offerings will only be available within the platform’s confines.

To put it more simply, anyone who likes your page on Facebook will gain access to content posted there, but it will not always be in an organic way.

You will need to invest further in enhancing your brand so that followers will actually want to see posted content and not treat it like a boosted message.

The core of the problem

Rod Ponce, Chief Innovation Officer from BHIVE Social Media Labs , sheds some light on the core of the problem .

I have found many brands that have excellent content and amazing moderators.  I absolutely love to see this.  We have a strategic model we use.  We call it the ACM model:  Audience, Content, and Moderation.  Three distinct responsibilities should be present in any digital marketing campaign.  Building an audience is what is under the spotlight and at the core of the problem.  Unfortunately, digital ads are a waste of valuable resources.  If ads continue to be purchased, it is almost criminal negligence now as reports of fraud trickle in.  Agencies should evaluate their complicit positions when evaluating media purchases in this space as there may be future repercussions and/or consequences.  Our research shows there are still ways to build an organic audience without the purchase of digital ads and advise agencies to contain this issue as they may already be exposed.

Credit: Entrepreneur

The advertising industry should look to new solutions

The ad fraud problem is not something that will easily go away. According to a survey by MyersBizNet, 78 percent of brand marketers are seriously concerned with the ad fraud issue.

Over the next 10 years, the World Federation of Advertisers predicts that the cost of this problem will rise to at least $50 billion, a figure that can be dispelled by cutting the issue at its core.

One solution that could be employed is blockchain technology. The blockchain is like a public ledger that stores data which cannot be altered in any way because it is simultaneously shared across hundreds of different computers.

That way, ad impressions and traffic will be measured precisely with detailed information such as when an ad was delivered, where it was delivered to, and so forth.

Consumers are engaging more and more with digital platforms, including social media. New forms of advertising and reaching out to target audiences should always be explored, such as the aforementioned influencer marketing.

Continuing to invest more money into the traditional digital advertising will simply add fuel to the fire. Ad companies should embrace technology but also be aware of its dangers and its drawbacks.

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Sourced from TNW