Meeting P&G’s Standards on Transparency Will Lift All Boats

Gavin Stirrat

Whilst we have seen various big players make public statements on transparency in the media industry, most have caused a ripple rather than a revolution. But last month  Marc Pritchard, PG’s chief brand officer, threw down the gauntlet to the digital media industry, calling for meaningful action on transparency, viewability and walled gardens. Here Gavin Stirrat, Managing Director at Voluum, a mobile DSP, explains how the industry can go about addressing advertiser concerns once and for all.

Recently there have been a number of extremely high profile news stories questioning the transparency and integrity of the online advertising industry. Just a couple of weeks ago, The Times uncovered a number of brands seemingly unaware that their advertising was being served alongside extremist videos, and potentially funding terrorist organisations. For brands, this is a hugely daunting prospect, shining a spotlight on the frustratingly slow progress of the industry in addressing issues that have existed for some time.

Only recently, Marc Pritchard made an arguably historic announcement on behalf of P&G (video embedded below), stating that the supply chain was “murky at best, and fraudulent at worst.” On issues such as ad fraud and viewability, P&G would also not be accepting anything less than complete transparency, and would be utilising the standards set by the Media Ratings Council (MRC) to implement its verification process.

With other brands now adopting a similar approach – O2 and Jaguar Land Rover just announced that they would be following suit – it’s important that all brands step back to look at the bigger picture, and demand more transparency from their suppliers. But what do brands need to know?

Know where, when and to whom your ads are being delivered

Understanding the context in which ads are served allows brands to make an informed choice over where their advertising runs, ensuring it remains appropriate for their target customers, relevant for the audience and avoids being intrusive. This can be achieved by ensuring that each company within the value chain is providing transparency regarding inventory, placements and audience, as well as the measures they are taking to address ad fraud, brand safety and viewability. The importance and interplay of context, environment and audience will be a key focus for the industry moving forward.

By taking a similar approach to P&G, brands can demand more from their supply chain, and minimise the impact of these issues.

Redefine what makes a successful campaign and minimise ad fraud

The buy side has consistently put pressure on their suppliers to deliver the most successful ad campaigns possible at the cheapest price, which is understandable when each player is seeking to extract the maximum ROI from a campaign. But, in some cases, inflated performance figures can be due to ad fraud. In this environment, there is little incentive for anyone within the value chain to take a proactive approach to remove fraud pre-bid.

When selecting a supplier, ensure that everything possible is being done to remove fraud from the ecosystem pre-bid. Companies that identify fraud post-campaign – and compensate as a result – are continuing to fund organised crime and extremist groups. This forgives rather than fixes the problem. We will continue to see more partnerships between anti-fraud specialists and supply platforms, that will increase awareness of ad fraud and the responsible approach to its removal.

Aspire to a transparent relationship with the supply chain

It’s important that brands start to understand the digital advertising ecosystem, and know where ads are being served, and in what context. By having transparency contracts in place with the entire supply chain, brands will be able to identify potential risk and can start to protect themselves from issues including fraud and viewability. Of course, this only works if the entire supply chain is transparent. Using standards such as the MRC viewability standard and industry bodies such as JICWEBS, brands can ensure that they are selecting the best possible suppliers, who have been independently audited.

It is a positive for the industry to see brands such as P&G holding their suppliers to such high standards, as all parts of the supply chain will start to work together to ensure transparency in online advertising becomes the norm.

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