Technology and Programmatic aren’t the Problem in Digital Media


Jana Eisenstein‘Programmatic’ is becoming something of a dirty word but the issue is wider than technology. Changes to standards and transparency will renew optimism in digital media says Jana Eisenstein, EMEA Managing Director at Videology.

Like any sector undergoing the complex process of digitalisation, the media business has encountered some growing pains. The current issues with brand safety, combined with P&G’s criticism of the “crappy media supply chain”, has led some to confuse the quality of ingredients with the process of automation.

But the reality is that there is nothing inherently bad about programmatic advertising. The current problems with media quality are just that: they’re media quality problems, not technology problems. If you put poor quality media into even the best programmatic solution, the campaign and the brand will suffer. The opposite is true of course when programmatic campaigns are served against premium media.

We need to agree industry-wide content standards and norms that support brand safety and transparency. Transparency and an open and collaborative ecosystem built on common standards and metrics allow all ecosystem participants to understand what is pertinent to them, whether they are advertisers, media owners or technology companies. Common standards of measurement across all platforms allow results to be compared. These metrics need to be defined, not by individual participants, but by the industry collectively and adhered to by all. They need to be configured to client needs and be scalable across the ecosystem.

We can measure advertising outcomes and KPIs using the metrics approved by the MRC or any other body, but we must all agree to use them and allow them to be tracked by third parties.

Finally, we need to be open and honest about the current limitations that we all deal with when it comes to digital video content, even with the rapid improvements we are making. The issues of brand safety are not new and occur in other media too and it is worth us looking at how other channels have alleviated such risks.

Linear television has been the dominant media channel for more than 50 years and over the course of that time the industry succeeded in managing brand safety across video content. In the UK, the TV industry came together to agreed on an industry-wide content rating system, The Ofcom Broadcasting Code, and ensuring Clearcast ad copy approval to BCAP standards.

This has been strictly enforced and has been hugely successful, not just on TV, but also on broadcast VOD. These standards are adopted for digitally-distributed TV content and in fact Videology has integrated Clearcast compliance ratings and workflow into our core stack, enabling programmatic media management adhering to Clearcast compliance requirements. Similar systems are used in other markets for TV content rating and advertising management.

Ultimately, if we want our move to programmatic advertising to deliver against all expectations, then doing two things will help. Firstly, by allowing third-party tracking pixels across all media, including walled gardens, we will give advertisers confidence and empower them with unequivocal data showing that their spend is effective and reward those media owners who perform the best. This could happen almost immediately and P&G are demanding that it happens by the end of 2017.

Secondly, to achieve brand safety, we need industry-wide collaboration from content creators, distributors and technology platforms to advertisers and brands.

By looking at, and learning from, linear TV, we could create an optimal video content classification system used by the entire ecosystem. This will help us all better understand, and allow us to use, all available media more appropriately for our advertising needs. This is not an easy endeavour and will take time, but it’s a vital step to ensuring that not only are consumers happy with the content they view, but that brands are increasingly confident about their ability to ensure they remain within brand safe environments.

We need to come together as an industry to make all this happen. Because whatever we do, digital advertising and programmatic aren’t going away and that makes ensuring the quality of the raw ingredients that power them critically important for the future that is already here.


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