AT&T-owned ad tech company AppNexus today announced that it is offering a “fee-transparent” supply side platform (SSP), thanks to a series of deals with publishers and third-party transparency companies. The company claims its SSP now gives buyers “an unprecedented level of visibility” into tech fees.
AppNexus says it began reaching out to publishers last year with agreements to make their tech fees wholly transparent to buyers transacting with the AppNexus SSP. The company says these agreements cover 82 percent of transactions on direct sellers in the US, and 58 percent of transactions on direct sellers globally.
Transparency specialists including Lucidity, AD/FIN and Amino Payments will track transactions, and disclose tech fees to AppNexus’ buyers when the purchase inventory on partnered publishers’ sites. AppNexus also says it is trialling a proprietary fee transparency report, which will give advertisers insight into seller tech fees across the AppNexus SSP.
“Through our policies and partnerships, AppNexus is leading the charge to give advertisers increased transparency in the global marketplace,” said Ryan Christensen, SVP of product at AppNexus’ parent company Xandr. “We want our buyers to know that when you transact on AppNexus supply, you have visibility into your working media dollars. AppNexus takes pride in being on the forefront of critical initiatives that instil trust in the supply chain and bring maximum visibility and benefit to our clients.
The news follows a similar announcement back in January that AppNexus had partnered with Adobe to provide fee transparency for buyers using Adobe Advertising Cloud on the AppNexus marketplace. Now it intends to extend these capabilities to advertisers not transacting through Adobe.
The obvious risk with transparency is that buyers will start questioning the size of fees taken by ad tech middlemen, the much maligned ‘ad tech tax’, putting pressure on tech companies to reduce the amount they charge. But AppNexus believes that tech companies must choose either to embrace the current push towards transparency within the industry, or lose business to to their competitors which do embrace it. While he was still leading the company, AppNexus’ founder and ex-CEO Brian O’Kelley compared avoiding transparency to running away from a bear. “If you want to sit there and see what happens, I wish you the best of luck. I’m running, and I think you should too,” he said.
And as businesses like AppNexus do start making fees transparent, it may indeed put pressure on their competitors to do the same. “End-to-end fee transparency is now table stakes for an IPG [Interpublic Group] exchange partnership as we head into 2019,” said Vincent Paolozzi, EVP of innovation at IPG agency MAGNA. “Optimising this intelligence allows MAGNA to curate a market advantage by maximising client working media. We’re thrilled that AppNexus is championing this initiative, and we take great confidence in partnering with the AppNexus SSP knowing we have access to such a high degree of transparent inventory.”