MediaMath Wants to Rework Digital Advertising’s Economics to Encourage Publisher Transparency

Source MediaMathDemand-side platform MediaMath today announced the launch SOURCE, a new initiative which the company says aims to bring “full transparency” to the digital media supply chain by the end of 2020. The company is painting SOURCE as an industry initiative, having signed up a number of partners from across the ecosystem, and says the effort will smooth TV’s transition towards programmatic trading. As part of the effort, MediaMath says it wants to rework the economics of digital advertising as it stands, in order to better incentivise industry players to share data.

As part of the initiative, MediaMath has made a number of commitments for the end of 2020, pledging that its supply chain will be “100 percent accountable and addressable” by the end of 2020, and gives its own definitions for those two terms (though there is still some ambiguity within their definitions).

For accountability, MediaMath promises a “transparent and fraud-free supply chain from trusted content owners” which gives advertisers full visibility of supply path mechanics and costs, modernised terms of trade, and new technical standards. For addressability meanwhile, MediaMath pledges “a single view of who a brand’s customers and prospects are across desktop, mobile, and TV through a persistent, portable user-level ID”. The ad tech company says that connecting up data used throughout the supply chain will make it easier for advertisers to communicate what they’re after, and to agree on costs. And SOURCE will use artificial intelligence to help draw out insights and trends from the data being used.

MediaMath has signed up an array of partners from across the ecosystem to contribute to SOURCE. Among those partnering are Rubicon Project, Business Insider, NewsCorp, Telaria, White Ops, Havas, IRIS.TV and Crackle Plus.

Connected-TV and over-the-top (OTT) will seemingly be quite a big focus of the initiative, given the inclusion of streaming network Crackle Plus, smart TV maker Vizio and its data arm Inscape, and CTV/OTT specialist supply-side platform Telaria. MediaMath says SOURCE will effectively build on Telaria’s own transparency programme which it launched last year.

With these types of commitments to transparency, there will naturally be some scepticism about how much of a difference will actually be made. Especially when there is room for interpretation within specific commitments – for example, by what measure will we be able to say SOURCE has or hasn’t created a “transparent” supply chain by the end of 2020?

But MediaMath CEO Joe Zawadski says creating a model in which advertisers can see where every dollar they spend goes would be a meaningful step forward, creating something which he doesn’t believe exists today.

And MediaMath’s partners willingness to open up “black boxes” of data could aid the initiative. Content owners partnering with SOURCE will have to verify that content they’re providing meets set standards around quality and authenticity, and tech providers will have to fully disclose their fees.

While neither of these things are by any means unheard of within the industry, encouraging more companies into providing this data through partnerships with SOURCE could make it a more attractive proposition to advertisers. MediaMath’s global head of ecosystem Jeremy Steinberg said that the project hopes to rework the economics of digital advertising to encourage them to do so, saying that “for too long, content owners have not been incentivised to protect the quality of their real estate.”


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