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OPINION - The programmatic industry doesn’t have a transparency problem
Advertisers have never had more choice
Last week there was an excellent article from Seb and Ronan at Digiday entitled ‘Inside the tensions countering advertisers’ latest quest for programmatic transparency’ which evaluated the success and progress of the ANA report that’s currently in production. TLDR; it’s not going very well, apparently. The report that is being built is having similar challenges to the one which ISBA, AOP and PWC ran in the UK two years ago, namely access to data from some of the industry’s biggest players.
Off the back of this article there was the usual fall-out and accusations made towards the programmatic industry and its participants. Standard. Whenever this happens it really does get my back up. The sweeping accusations in aggregate cast a cold light on what is a valuable way for brands to invest their money and therein lies the problem – ‘aggregate’.
It’s very easy to turn your back on programmatic as an advertiser or even as an agency, it can seem complex and difficult (which is often painted by certain companies in the industry) and these studies help to validate that thinking, but it also doesn’t need to be.
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For example, Supply Path Optimisation is the number one way any advertiser can make significant savings from their ad spend today. Cut down number of exchanges, put in good agreements on fraud rebates, look to ingest log files for granularity/verification, negotiate take-rates with key partners, curate specific supply that meets your criteria and maybe use a third-party company to verify and monitor this ongoingly. There you go – that’s actually pretty straight forward. Yes, perhaps some parties on the supply-side who aren’t as willing to facilitate some of these initiatives for advertisers have a touch of unique supply or cool product feature, but access to data and optimising against it will stand you in better stead in the long run.
On the demand side there are concerns over the take-rates & impartiality of leading DSPs – again, in aggregate. If you can’t get confidence in how you’re spending there will be another DSP who will provide greater confidence.
Let’s be honest though, Google & The Trade Desk are the gorillas in the room. It’s estimated that 60% of programmatic spend run through either. With DV360 the platform clearly does a great job in integrating features from across the Google stack, on both buy- and sell-sides, to benefit DV360. When you’re as big as Google or The Trade Desk and you demand so much spend, why would you lean into industry initiatives fully? Yes, there’s some positive industry moves from Google (I was very much a Google naysayer, but am bullish on their involvement in recent times) but they’re a business looking to protect their margins – does opening up granular data benefit them in any way? Will ad spend increase towards them because of it? Probably not, so why bother?
According to Dentsu, 70% of digital investment next year will be executed programmatically, so it’s worth an advertiser getting the right technologies in place so they have confidence in the fees and decisions technologies are making on their behalf.
Advertisers have genuine choice - they should use that wisely.
Going into 2023 is a really good time to start re-evaluating AdTech partners. Advertisers don’t need to run 6-month RFPs with unnecessary evaluation criteria, there’s plenty that can be done in an agile way, advertisers just really need to get started.