Festival of Media 2014 Highlights: It was all about transparency


As presenters and delegates at last week’s annual Festival of Media were voicing concern about the issues surrounding transparency, and its growing importance in the digital advertising industry, the IAB UK announced that UK digital ad spend is up 15% year-on-year to £6.3bn and the IAB US revealed a new milestone; internet advertising is now bigger than TV advertising. Adding to these timely statistics, the IAB observed that “To scale the market and create value for all, the digital advertising industry must ensure increased transparency in the programmatic auction ecosystem – over fees, net CPMs and the bidding process itself.”

Furthermore, of the advertisers and marketers surveyed by the Association of National Advertisers recently, 42% said transparency worries had increased over the past year. Specifically, 35% are very concerned about an inability to know where their digital ads will run and 51% are very concerned that there is not enough transparency around agency rebates. These concerns are fuelled by a perceived lack of transparency in reports from some programmatic trading desks. Prices continue to drop as inventory across the web increases – but, marketers worry that not all savings are being passed back to them.

Clearly – and nowhere was this more apparent at the Festival of Media – this is a hot topic for marketers. The question remains: can media agencies and partners do more to transparently present costs, media spend and ROI back to their clients? The answer is yes, with the right technology partner. Brands who demand transparency from their vendors around price, tactics, management and media can deliver stronger returns on their media budgets and extract more accurate insight about their best customers. So how can you, as a marketer, ensure you’re getting the most important information from your technology partner? Below, we’ve outlined a three step strategy:

• Get a handle on your vendor’s actual pricing model
A model where you have a clear understanding of the price and quantity of what they buy (impressions, data, etc.) is preferable. This gives you a clear view into their media budget’s end-to-end economics, and it allows you to determine what percent of your budget becomes working media.
• Find out where your digital ads are actually being served and who is engaging with them
Ask your partner for full domain or site-level reporting that includes impression, click and action counts. This ensures that your ad networks and ad tech partner is not hiding cookie bombing and other margin-rich performance tactics.
• Decipher the real campaign tactics that your vendors are using
Have a clear understanding of which tactics, such as Retargeting or Prospecting, are spending, performing, and scaling. Marketers with tactic transparency not only know that their campaign is performing, but why it is performing. This level of transparency is critical for transferring insights and using your digital media as an extension of market research.

 ‘Getting with the brand programme’ panel session with Mike Baker, DataXu CEO & Co-Founder at Festival of Media Global
‘Getting with the brand programme’ panel session with Mike Baker, DataXu CEO & Co-Founder at Festival of Media Global

These recommendations provide a ‘transparency’ foundation to help assess whether your media budgets and campaigns are being managed to the agreed setup and targeting requirements. Ultimately, they will deliver a clearer view into your media spend and performance, and ensure optimal ROI across your campaigns. If you would like to do some further reading around this topic, then download our whitepaper “What we talk about when we talk about transparency.”