Do you know where your ads are?

How serious do you think the transparency issues are in the industry at the moment? What can the industry do to ensure greater transparency?
Both transparency and brand safety are rightly very hot topics at the moment, and it’s fundamentally important to the industry that we address them head-on. If we want to continue
to maximise the opportunity digital advertising is presenting us, it’s essential we come together as an industry and work with advertisers to navigate safely through this issue.

How does KPEX ensure the transparency for clients?
KPEX only represents New Zealand’s premium broadcasters and publishers such as Fairfax, NZME, TVNZ and Mediaworks. Therefore, advertisers can be 100 percent confident their activity will only be running within brand-safe environments. In addition, KPEX provides advertisers the opportunity to target through a fully transparent system that allows brands to see the content page or URL before advertising on it. This all means that an advertiser can both be confident with the environment and the content on the page before appearing on the KPEX exchange, providing full transparency to the brand.

Is there enough clarity regarding the media supply chain in digital media? Do marketers actually know what they’re paying for? How can we rectify this issue?
We definitely need a more open conversation between advertisers, technology providers, agencies and media owners to ensure everyone understands the technology being used (and fees being charged) throughout the supply chain.

Much of the technology for programmatic is valuable in ensuring both efficiency and effectiveness, but it’s a complex space so we all need to continually educate ourselves to take advantage of the opportunity. Advertisers need to fully understand how their budgets are being spent and to also proactively up-skill in this area so they can ask the right questions of their partners.

At the same time, media owners, technology providers and agencies have a responsibility to be transparent around the supply chain in regard to what technology is being used, how it will benefit the advertiser and the commercial model behind it. 

How important is third-party verification of digital measurement data? Should we have a standardised approach applicable across all digital media?
As we have seen over recent months, it’s not acceptable for global media owners to be ‘marking their own homework’ as Martin Sorrell puts it. It’s wholly unacceptable to be misreporting performance and there is a need for a rebalance of power (driven by agencies and advertisers) to hold media owners to account. Third-party verification will be key in driving confidence for advertisers individually and the digital market as a whole.

However, before we even get into third-party verification, we need to be clearer on measurement as a whole. We need to put in place some market-wide standards and benchmarks for performance expectations. Advertisers need a clear shortcut to understand the environments their advertising is being placed within and the performance they can expect.

At KPEX, we see market-leading video completion rates and excellent viewability scores within premium environments. Consequently, it’s no surprise our sites often achieve superior performance for advertisers than from other corners of the internet. Market standards and third-party verification will help advertisers identify the digital sites that are really creating value for them. 

How do you think the issue of transparency and brand safety will evolve in the coming years?
It’s important to remember that the speed of change and growth in digital has been exponential over recent years. We believe the current transparency and brand safety conversations are speed bumps in the maturing of the market.

The technology required to provide advertisers full transparency and brand safety exists today, however, we are seeing a lag in industry standards and education. As the transparency conversation grows and the industry puts in place measurement, performance and commercial standards we will see this issue dissipate over time.

There is no question that programmatic advertising (and the technology it uses) provides advertisers with an unprecedented ability to target existing or potential customers more accurately, more efficiently, with more impact and more measurably than ever before. The programmatic opportunity for the advertisers is huge and we need to provide the confidence for them to continue to grow investment in the channel. 

Buyer Beware

Thompson says that transparency and brand safety debate comes down to four important areas that brands need to consider any time they spend money on digital media. 

1) Environment:
This is the area that’s getting the most pro le at the moment. As a brand ‘you are the company you keep’ and no one wants to see advertising alongside or funding sites that don’t align with your brand values (we have seen some high pro le and fairly shocking examples of this recently). The good news is that this is also the simplest to x; most agency trading desks have a ‘whitelist’ of preapproved sites for brands to advertise on, alongside a ‘blacklist’ of sites to specifically avoid. At KPEX, we have seen a number of advertisers shift the focus of their investment towards our exchange so they can be con dent in appearing on 100 percent premium New Zealand inventory (a built-in ‘whitelist’ if you like). 

2) Content:
Within all sites there will be content advertisers would prefer not to appear next to, for example, an airline may not want to advertise around an article that mentions the words ‘plane crash’. This is also relatively simple to avoid, most of the leading brands within the programmatic space have fairly comprehensive lists of ‘negative keywords’. Trading desks can use their ‘brand safety technology’ to scan a page and ensure that activity doesn’t run on keywords that have a perceived negative connotation to the brand. 

3) Technology transparency:
Within programmatic advertising we are increasingly using technology to improve buys, reduce wastage by targeting the right people to create more efficient campaigns. Some of the technology enables advertisers to buy programmatically, other tech overlays audience-targeting information while a further piece of technology ensures brand safety. All of these solutions are important to advertisers and add significant value to the process. The key is for advertisers to really understand the ‘why’ of each piece of technology that is being used and the commercial relationship that sits below this.

4) Agency transparency:
It’s hard to have a conversation around transparency without the subject of agency transparency arising. It’s natural that as an industry dramatically transforms there will also be a need for a reset of what represents value and the commercial model attached to it. Advertisers need confidence that their agency partners are making buying decisions for the right reasons and this comes from complete transparency throughout the value chain. At the same time, we need a reset on what represents value and for advertisers to remunerate agencies fairly for the skills required to be effective from strategy through to buying. 

  • Contact: Richard Thompson, chief executive, [email protected] 
  • This story is part of a content partnership with KPEX.

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