The Industry Debate: Can an Ad Tech Company Fairly Serve the Interests of Both the Buy-Side and the Sell-Side?

The Industry DebateToday we’re launching a new series in which leading figures from the world of video and TV advertising will debate the issues of the day. The motion for our first debate is: “An ad tech company cannot fairly serve the interests of both the buy and sell-side.” Arguing for the motion is Keith Eadie, CMO of TubeMogul. Arguing against the motion is Dora Michail, Senior Director for Audience Solutions, Yahoo EMEA.

Keith Eadie, CMO of TubeMogul

Keith Eadie, CMO, TubeMogulTubeMogul was always wired with a streak for independence that has helped us succeed. Early in our company journey, we decided to be a buy-side platform, maintaining a singular focus on advertisers. This means we do not — and will not — make money from publishers in any way. Our only incentive is to do what is best for the advertiser.  Our belief is: When company incentives and risks do not align with their customers, there is trouble ahead. It’s time to avoid that trouble and demand independence.

Dora Michail, Senior Director for Audience Solutions, Yahoo EMEA

Dora MichailThere is a huge amount of insight and opportunity to be garnered by advertisers who partner with digital publishers like Yahoo who own their own tech. The combination of content, data and technology is a powerful proposition and advertisers stand to benefit a great deal from what publishers know about their customers. Yahoo sees 165bn data points a day across video, social, search, content consumption and mobile activity. We make all of this information available to our advertisers via the Brightroll DSP, where brands can use this data for insights, audience targeting and measurement across video, native and display.

Unlike the others in our 1bn+ users peer-set, we have not constructed a walled garden making it harder for advertisers to achieve their marketing goals. We operate an open and transparent marketplace where our data can be used not only against Yahoo inventory, but across the entire web through our connections with other publishers via SSPs and Exchanges.

Keith Eadie, CMO, TubeMogul

Keith Eadie, CMO, TubeMogulMarketers must not be lulled into a false sense of security: just because there is no fence around the paddock does not mean there isn’t a wolf in disguise. There is no doubt that publishers can offer advertisers valuable insights about their audience. There is no question that advertisers deserve freedom of movement with regard to data. But we believe there is merit in asking whether media owners that provide buying technology can easily serve the interests of both sides.

At a minimum, it raises uncomfortable questions. For instance, how do advertisers know that their buying platform isn’t diverting traffic to certain sites in order to fulfill existing obligations? Or how can a platform simultaneously drive cost-savings for marketers while maximizing yield for publishers (two conflicting goals)?

Marketers deserve more than targeted distribution. They deserve to know exactly where their ads ran, how much they cost, and the ability to log in to real software and steer the wheel themselves. More importantly, advertisers deserve the peace of mind that their partner’s success is exclusively dependent on their own success.

Dora Michail, Senior Director for Audience Solutions, Yahoo EMEA

Dora MichailBuyers are far savvier these days and are less swayed by incitements to fear publisher intentions or claims of “wolf in sheep’s clothing” scenarios. The fact is, buyers have full control and transparency and if they don’t feel like that is the case, then they certainly should demand more. Full transparency means that a buyer can create their own whitelists of publishers, define their segments and own their own bid strategies – this should remove any doubt around bid bias on specific inventory.

Publishers who own their own ad tech provide far more than “targeted distribution”. Today’s marketers need to be audience-centric and device agnostic in their media buys. This requires that they advertise on a platform which has rich profiles on actual people and can reach them across devices. Publishers with ad tech have a distinct advantage over ad tech only suppliers due to their deep knowledge and understanding of consumer behaviour. Ultimately when a marketer wakes up in the morning they don’t yearn for software, they want to engage real people with their marketing efforts.

Keith Eadie, CMO of TubeMogul

Keith Eadie, CMO, TubeMogulWhen I buy a car, I always know that the salesperson is going to try and get the most money from me while simultaneously glossing over any problems. Why? Because as long as they own the car, they aren’t making any money. And the longer that car stays on the lot, the more depreciation can impact the potential price they can sell it for.

Ad tech is not that different.

Car salespeople might provide a wealth of knowledge when it comes to asking about the behaviour of the cars on their lot. They may know all the facts and figures about MPG and technical specs. But, they’re still under pressure to make a profit. They can help you make an informed decision, but they’ll only know about the ads (whoops, I mean cars) on their lot – and boy will they push you to buy them.

The original motion was “an ad tech company cannot fairly serve the interests of both the buy and sell-side.” It wasn’t about the usefulness of first-party data. Advertisers deserve an answer to the fundamental questions here, such as: how can a media owner’s platform simultaneously maximize advertiser ROI and publisher yield? Or how can advertisers know they are getting the best price without transparent fees?

Dora Michail, Senior Director for Audience Solutions, Yahoo EMEA

Dora MichailDigital marketing is not a transaction like buying a car. It’s about connecting advertisers with audiences that matter and enabling an engaging dialogue with consumers. There are three key stakeholders that need to be considered: the advertiser, the publisher and the consumer. For the eco-system to be a success, each of these three players needs to receive something as part of the value exchange. An engaged consumer should be served relevant ads, the publisher should receive a fair price for providing targeted access to the right consumers and the advertiser should receive a return on their investment.

Publishers with ad tech like Yahoo do provide transparency on fees, but more importantly, they connect advertisers with over 1bn consumers worldwide, across devices and across formats, using rich consumer insights. It’s not a transaction, it’s not about “the best price”, it’s about creating and cultivating meaningful experiences for consumers, and delivering brand engagement which results in the best ROI. That’s what publishers with ad tech provide.

If you would like to propose a motion for a future industry debate, please feel free to get in touch.

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