The WFA recently surveyed top marketers, learning that programmatic budgets will grow by 11% in 2018 despite ongoing industry concerns around transparency and the "murky" media supply chain. Of course, programmatic isn’t the new kid on the block anymore, but this year it will be all about maintaining standards, transparency and brand safety.
We spoke to four experts from IAB UK, Clear Channel, The Programmatic Advisory and Auto Trader, to explore how programmatic can grasp an industry-wide standard to achieve.
In less than ten years, automated trading has proven itself to be an efficiency gain for buyers looking to find the right audience for products and services. IAB UK’s, senior programmes manager, Dee Frew expresses that with this degree of sophistication, comes a need from buyers to re-learn digital trading in order to maximise returns. He says: “Part of that learning, in order to maintain standards, is about becoming familiar with the unique nature of your offering and how best to protect it through the multitude of quality control vendors and industry-level initiatives available to you.”
But there’s still a long way to go to maintain standards that the entire industry will accept. The Programmatic Advisory’s client partner, James Diba sees a wide range of standards across the clients that he works with and these values can span fundamental ways, like approaches to brand safety, inventory selection and technology use.
Outside of online, programmatic is still breaking new ground says Clear Channel UK’s, commercial innovation director, Cadi Jones. “As traditional media moves in to programmatic trading channels, there is a lot of thinking to be done by agencies and advertisers on how they want to approach out of home (OOH),” she explains. “Historically, OOH has been kept separate from other media but as we move towards an omnichannel trading capability, agencies need to be ready to embrace omnichannel planning.”
Auto Trader is taking a long-term view to programmatic growth, as both an advertiser and a media owner. They align with industry initiatives like the Coalition for Better Ads and the IAB Gold Standard, and collaborate with agencies, other advertisers, and media owners, on building a better advertising ecosystem.
The trust battle
Trust issues around data have become an industry staple and has been a raging battle between business and clients for some time now. The problems are long from being resolved. According to Frew, the industry is entering an era of additional responsibility around data and those who intend to contribute to a sustainable future will thrive. From an out-of-home perspective, Jones says there’s still a long way to go when targeting people, not only based on their current location, but also their frequent locations. As brands look at tying together online, mobile, digital audio and OOH, location data will only become that much more important.
There have been many cases of data leakage and misuse of data by corrupt practices, says Diba. “Data issues lie on both the buy-side and sell-side in that clients who are buying third party data, more often than not, don't know what that data consists of or where it's coming from,” he expresses. “On the sell side, publishers are losing out on their valuable first party data which is impacting their potential revenues.”
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Director of commercial platforms and operations at Auto Trader, Lara Izlan says that one of the key problems is the imbalance of information between buyer and seller. “In part obscured by the various intermediaries,” she explains. “Classic supply-demand economic theory espouses that a fair market naturally finds the optimal price equilibrium; where the definition of ‘fair’ includes perfect information. This has not been the case so far in programmatic.”
Perception around programmatic
The perception, according to Frew, that programmatic is associated to lower quality is still a central problem today. “Programmatic originated out of efforts to monetise unsold inventory more effectively and the open marketplace attracts a lot of negative attention when campaign execution falls down,” he says. “All it takes is one bad screen grab to undo a lot of progress and good will though so keepings things in perspective is key.”
The transparency question is still top of most people’s minds. Jones and Diba attest to this. It always seems like a news story is breaking weekly, whether it’s about hidden DSP fees, agency rebates, take rates from SSPs etc. “With so many moving parts in programmatic,” says Diba, “It can be difficult to understand all of the ways in which the money flows from an advertiser to a publisher and it's no surprise that we have seen so many transparency debates surfacing.”
Jones, meanwhile, is particularly excited about the prospect of Blockchain and smart contracts to provide a permanent ledger of all of the micro-transactions in the value chain. She explains: “The value chain in turn needs to get better at driving more real-time insights into the results that they deliver, in order to demonstrate that they really are adding value.”
Frew, Diba, Jones and Izlan are all judges for The Drum Digital Trading Awards. These awards provide a benchmark for the industry and set the standard worldwide. By highlighting best practice and innovation. The entry deadline is Friday February 16, download your entry pack now and let us shout about you and celebrate your work on a global scale.
These awards are sponsored by Tapad and partnered by IAB UK