Verizon Media Digital Advertising

How DSPs can deliver credible ad transparency in 2020


By Jeff Lucas, VP, head of North American sales and global client services

December 16, 2019 | 5 min read

Advertising has been fundamentally changed by a shift to greater transparency, with marketers expressing serious concerns about an opaque media supply chain.They’ve demanded greater clarity throughout the buying process – and they’ve been heard. This tug of war has raised healthy questions, not only about transparency, but also about the efficiency and effectiveness of advertising platforms. Although the industry is making progress for increased transparency, there is still a long way to go. Per a recent ANA report, transparency still remains a key concern for one-third of marketers.


How DSPs can deliver credible ad transparency in 2020

As a result, successful DSPs are more open about everything they do – empowering customers to understand their marketing spend and achieve a better ROI. For those adapting to the new environment, it’s essential to be both more flexible toward third-party integrations, for example, and more open in the way that you do business, in general. This will help marketers better understand performance as well as costs with objectivity. Here are two ways DSPs can deliver on transparency in 2020:

Performance auditing

Independent performance measurement and auditing is today’s table stakes. Every brand has its own unique set of ROI goals. Platforms are entrusted to deliver against those metrics. However, as we’ve seen with several UGC-focused companies, when vendors grade their own homework, problems arise. On multiple occasions, companies like Facebook and Google gave inaccurate metrics to advertisers, creating a crisis of confidence that rippled through the industry. Now, advertisers expect independent measurement on top of precise vendor data.

Instead of fighting this transition, vendors need to embrace it. That means making their own campaign metrics available to the most prominent and trusted independent auditors and working closely with them so that their inventory performance is graded accurately. Vendors shouldn’t push one auditor over another or limit grading; rather, they must integrate with multiple providers, holistically, so that clients can choose.

This kind of objectivity and transparency has been a challenge for some companies who don’t enable measurement outside of their ecosystem. Because, in some cases, they control the ad server and these companies are pushing buyers to rely on their own metrics. But there’s a backlash against that, as no one wants a single partner to be the sole arbiter of performance.

Clarity on costs & fees

Performance isn’t the only area where marketers need greater clarity about their investment. In the transparency era, there can no longer be any opacity in media-buying contracts or fees. Brands are forcing the issue and calling for new forms of cost clarity and openness. They want to understand what the costs are and who is being paid, as this has an obvious and meaningful impact on their campaigns and the inventory they transact.

As a result, advertisers are asking vendors to provide better insights into “money in and money out,” ensuring that buys are occurring in a transparent environment. By having greater control and transparency into the buying process, advertisers can better manage costs and understand the efficacy of their campaigns. Advertisers will cull DSPs who operate opaquely, shifting spend towards vendors that open up access and share more intel.

It’s important to note, though, that the best DSPs should already have transparency on fees taken. Advertisers should expect their partners to provide log file data that gives a fuller view of how money is being spent on the platform, as well as all points at which payments are distributed through to inventory providers.

Additionally, the best DSPs will offer a 360-degree view of an advertiser’s entire programmatic environment, with robust cost analyses broken down by channel (e.g., display, CTV, DOOH, audio, etc.), ad format (e.g., video, native, etc.) and exchange. This allows buyers to drill down to truly understand how each channel, format and exchange is delivering on their behalf, while providing forecasts to shape campaign strategy, creative and targeting. Reputable vendors should already offer these capabilities to safeguard confidence.

Moving forward, the demand for transparency is only going to take an even greater hold on the market. All the big brands will only work with DSPs who help them understand their supply chain, performance and costs. Vendors must be prepared. Otherwise, they will lose investments and, most importantly, forfeit the long-term trust and confidence of brand partners.

Jeff Lucas is head of North American sales and global client solutions at Verizon Media

Verizon Media Digital Advertising

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