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Boehringer Ingelheim Programmatic Real Time Bidding

Boehringer Ingelheim's head of global media, Mark Butterfield sees no sign of change for programmatic buying transparency problem

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By Stephen Lepitak | -

February 12, 2014 | 4 min read

Boehringer Ingelheim's head of global media, Mark Butterfield sees no sign of change when it comes to the transparency problems surrounding programmatic advertising sales, nor does he believe there is any will to change on behalf of media owners.

Speaking to The Drum ahead of appearing at the Digital Convergence Conference next month as part of a panel discussing programmatic buying, Butterfield, who has long studied the sector, said he was skeptical over any changes being made within the crowded real-time bidding (RTB) marketplace from a publisher's perspective over advertising spend transparency.

"Where the traditional media method of client, agency, media owner saw one invoice go from end to end, it was pretty easy to see what was happening by looking at an invoice," he explained.

"What is happening more now is that in the programmatic buying business there are so many middle men between the client and the media owner that the cuts are getting bigger and bigger without any real understanding of where it's come from and exactly what you are paying."

He continued:"It's in the hands of the media owners to put their hands up and say they will give complete transparency from end to end," he explained. "So if a client rings up and says 'by the way I'm spending money with you, can I see the invoice?' Then the answer is 'yes.' What we're going towards is an arberter system where it's being bought at one price and brokered at another price."

Asked whether he believed that media owners wanted to effect a change in RTB he stated: "No.There's so much skewing the game."

Elaborating, Butterfield explained that transparency was a problem that arose at every World Federation of Advertiser's meeting and at most client associations, and that clients were struggling to find a resolution.

"There is a view on behalf of the media owner or agency world to say 'I'm carrying on anyway until the hammer comes down.' The other thing is the right to audit. Many clients don't have that problem clause within their contracts with agencies, so it's quite difficult to have that right if you want to to audit what is going on in their business. Some clients think 'as long as I'm saving 20 per cent, what's the problem?' The problem is that the agency becomes both buyer and seller and dictates deflation of the marketplace," he added.

Butterfield also revealed that companies like digital media audit service Telemtry, which he has worked with in the past, had found resistance from media agencies to co-operate in attempting to open up the process to more scrutiny.

"It's now become a serious problem where you can't understand where your dollar's being spent. I have no issue paying a fair day's fee to an agency, but I need to understand paying a dollar for something and then seeing that the transaction is clean from end to end. At this moment that is not the case."

Last week, Robert Dreblow, head of marketing capabilities for the WFA, who will also be appearing at Digital Convergence, also cited the lack of transparency within programmatic trading as an issue for the body's members.

The pair will speak on a ‘Programmatic Friend or Foe ‘ panel at The Drum’s forthcoming Digital Convergence conference , a day dedicated to helping marketing professionals stay on top of the increasingly 'always on' nature of their audiences.

The conference, which will tackle topics including The Power of Context & Being Relevant to the Moment; Connecting with Consumers Rather than their Devices; Real Time Opportunities, and Unification & Leverage of Data, will be located at America Square Conference Centre in East London on 12 March.

Boehringer Ingelheim Programmatic Real Time Bidding

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