Players in the adtech industry need to stop exploiting the opaqueness of advertising technology and work together to bring governance back into the system, according to a new report.
Ethical Adtech: Bringing Transparency and Accountability to Digital Marketing report, produced by The Drum, in partnership with Iotec, delves into the issues surrounding brand safety, accountability and effectiveness and provides specific recommendations for how the adtech industry can rally together to resolve these issues.
According to Direct Line Group brand and commercial director Sam Taylor, most advertisers are unaware of what they are buying or how much it really costs. In the report, he warns of a move towards more “below-the-line activity” which will eventually lead to a significant shift in the overall advertising ecosystem as programmatic channels lose out to those “with more rigorous practices and higher standards”.
A coordinated effort between clients, agencies, suppliers and media owners will be necessary to resolve transparency and brand safety issues, it suggests. With insights from senior marketers, it also reveals that advertisers need to ensure they understand programmatic to set themselves up properly to benefit from it in the future.
Another finding highlighted in the report is how marketers are handling brand safety issues in the light of scandalous headlines which hit major publications last year. It finds that they not only need to get more proactive about anticipating brand safety issues but also take greater control over their programmatic buying.
“There can be a conflict between looking for the new and innovative, and taking a responsible attitude,” says Jaguar Land Rover general manager, global advertising, Ian Armstrong. “The new thing won’t necessarily deliver better results than the tried and tested. You have to be cautious.”
So what can we do to change this? The report recommends brands to sign up to its ‘Manifesto for Ethical Adtech’ under the umbrella of three key areas: Transparency & Fair Trading, Efficiency & Effectiveness and Brand Protection, Security & Privacy.
The manifesto recommends brands to continuously audit their suppliers to meet high standards of ethics and have a clear idea of what data is collected, stored and used.
It further details how brands should be using technology to optimise their campaign goals – rather than simply increasing the vendor’s margin. To ensure brand protection, it recommends brands to only work with companies audited by JICWEBS DTSG compliance for brand safety and JICWEBS Ad Fraud compliance for ad fraud. Partners are also encouraged to use third parties for tracking and measuring brand safety.
Commenting on the manifesto, Paul Wright, CEO of Iotec Global said: “The digital supply chain needs to be overhauled in order to rebalance the whole ecosystem and respect all parties in the supply chain. A recent third-party survey we conducted revealed, perhaps unsurprisingly, that 90% of brand marketers believed that tech companies have an ethical responsibility to clients and the end consumer.
He continued: "Almost the exact same number (89%) also called out for a standard code of ethics to be implemented across adtech vendors in order to force transparency. It’s clear that there is a desire for change across the industry and I hope that the Ethical Adtech Manifesto inspires action.”
Join the ethical adtech movement by downloading the report (with the manifesto) here.