Transparency in a process involves it being completely visible and open to scrutiny, so that it’s clear that nothing is being hidden. Personally, I don’t think this describes our industry, nor does the Association of National Advertisers. The ANA recently published a report called, “The CMO’s Guide to Programmatic Transparency.” I found this to be long overdue as it pertains to buying programmatic media but it also got me thinking about other areas of our industry that need more transparency.
The ANA report can be found on their website. It focuses mainly on the relationships between agencies, trading desks, SSP’s, and publishers. As more media has moved to programmatic, a entire ecosystem has been created to support programmatic and the walled gardens. Many people refer to DSP’s as dumb pipes. Therefore you need to subscribe to additional technologies to make them smarter. The DSP’s are happy to sell you those services in a less than transparent way so they can pad their margins. This leads to the need for transparent partners that help make your dollars go further on DSP’s and the walled gardens. The walled garden challenge is a bit different because they own the data but are being constrained by privacy regulation.
Contextual advertising was popular before programmatic took off and now its back. The DSP’s are happy to sell you stale data to fuel your contextual advertising but what brands need is a tool that provides around the clock updates because new content is being created every minute. In the early 2000’s brands would rely on the publishers they bought media on for contextual targeting but today that relationship has been severed by the DSP. ProfitWheel continuously crawls the Internet for content that is relevant for your brand. And in an effort to be completely transparent, they will provide you with the URL’s and Video ID’s that you can drop into your DSP and buy. Now you will know exactly what pages you are buying and how each page performs. Their pricing is a Saas model and guaranteed to cost at least 20% less than what you are paying now.
If you are a buyer of audio advertising, you know how much the channel(s) have changed. In the old days, you would provide your spot to the radio station and they told you how many listeners they had. Today with digital/streaming audio, most brands rely on the networks to provide listener data, completion rates, and CTR’s on companion banners without any verification. Podcasters will tell you how many listeners listened to a show. Frequency becomes your ad server and creative engine, allowing you to optimize quickly. Think of Frequency as a blend between Doubleclick as an ad server and FlashTalking as a creative server. Frequency will help you create personalized/contextualized creative and serve it wherever you want via a VAST tag. Now, all you need to do is log into Frequency, see performance by network, publisher, and creative. Then optimize/swap creative within Frequency without ever talking to the network/publisher. You can still by the media programmatically.
If you really want transparency, check out Programmatic Direct Mail (PDM). Companies like PebblePost know the actual address to where you sent mail based on digital behavior. They can share the addresses and campaign data with your measurement partner so you can measure incrementality, transparently.
And speaking of measurement, Measured is your ticket to move past cookie based MTA tracking and attribution. With a focus on incrementality and transparency, you will know exactly which channels and vendors are driving the most incremental sales and the least so you can optimize accordingly. They have no vested interest in your media or creative. It’s b&w to them.
It all starts with the RFP and evaluation phase. Tech is much more difficult to evaluate than media. The Cogent Olive RFP Platform provides buyers with robust pre-built RFP questions that can be modified on individual needs. The platform allows for internal collaboration and evaluation without the need for Excel, Google Sheets, or sifting through email. Vendors can all answer the same questions in one platform, upload documents, and communicate. The platform will even help score the RFP’s so you can focus on the ones that best align with your business needs. You wouldn’t paint your home without getting multiple quotes so don’t buy tech without getting multiple apples to apples quotes. This platform will allow you to evaluate more companies, more quickly so you can choose the best partners for your business.
So ask more of all your partners and not just the DSP’s and agencies. Transparency across our ecosystem will drive our industry forward.