How to help Transparency in being more Transparent in Digital?
The Digital Geek: We should add media transparency tools, viewability, ad serving, etc and track the success of our campaigns! Our KPIs and Metrics are all over the place. The creative are just adapts from print or outdoor. We should invest in exclusive digital creatives
The Boss: How much will it cost for the transparency thingy?
The Digital Geek: about 2-3% of our campaign budget, and so in this case, INR 35,000
The Boss: Can’t waste that much son, let’s add this money into our INR 800,000 of cool VR Campaign that will drive PR for a month.
The Digital Geek: #FML , #Facepalm
(PS: Digital Marketing still works this way in 2017!)
The funny situation or irony is that media agencies are being quick to deny that there is any media transparency problem, but the fact is that there has always been a transparency problem in regards to buying and / or planning media
The other issue is that the growth of digital media technology platforms required and expected to deliver the associated transactions has made the process simpler for the associated stakeholders to make additional revenues at the expense of the advertiser, without actually giving the much needed benefits to the brand or campaigns.
Media buying in general sense has always been associated with rebates and kick-backs, apart from the contracted, declared or agreed commission rates.
The complex, fragmented, growing ecosystem along with the progress made in technology, makes it possible to transact on a billion websites in one go.
That has also led to organized cybercrime groups to discover opportunities to create fake audiences, fake websites hosting ads, click farms and other means to make significant profits. Remember, the advertisers’ money gets wasted here, the agencies still attract the media commissions on the overall money spent.
But advertisers continue to ignore these facts, some agencies overlook the same saying such things are part of the ecosystem and no one can actually change much of it. The advancement of technology has only made these things clearer in the eyes of the advertisers.
There are arguments that the commission rates are very low, the talent in digital is expensive, agencies are also businesses and need to make money, the agency-advertiser contracts does have some scope or loopholes that get exploited by the agencies in bulk deals, every agency has implemented measures to combat viewability and ad fraud, etc; advertisers want excellent strategy but cheap media, or the growing number of intermediaries between brand to consumer seeing the ad makes it impossible to make profit, and that the agencies are investing ahead of the curve to retain prestigious clients. All these are the arguments or defences that come out from agency spokespersons on why some traditional practices continue to exist in the ecosystem, and cannot be changed due to some recent trends like media transparency
All these reasons point towards a need to have a third party to monitor the campaigns and keep questioning the investments to ensure the value is being delivered.
Few agencies have started changing the way they operate by championing accountability and give all access to the advertisers, the third party service providers and also add services from their end to ensure last mile tracking. They also operate on success fees as against flat commissions, so that it creates a win-win for all, and in the process, build an ecosystem of good publishers, high performing assets and regaining trust in digital marketing.
One major challenge that we all face is that the data coming in from Google and Facebook differs vastly, their levels of transparency and access to third party tools is minimal as against the hundreds of publishers and ad networks, but still these two giants end up getting more than half of the digital ad revenues around the globe.
The recent cases where advertisers have started questioning brad safety, transparency as well as deep diving into the digital ecosystem to see the success of the brand via this medium has intensified the need to make every rupee / dollar / pound sent on digital media, tools and technology count.
Here is one of the tools that will help you visualize how much are you spending in media and how much on the tools that help you make the programmatic campaigns efficient.
The IAB Fee Transparency Calculator** https://www.iab.com/guidelines/iab-programmatic-fee-transparency-calculator/
So the question remains, how to increase the transparency measures in being more transparent?
Some steps to be taken proactively by all stakeholders in the industry, viz brands, agencies, publishers and the other intermediaries are:
- Invest a little more in 3rd party verification tools
- Set standards of reporting, assign practical KPIs (instead of generic), have a two way dialogue, discussion, debate on who needs to be added in the campaign and why. Just lower rates should not be the criteria to select vendor-partners
- Buying models like pay per outcome works better than just CPC or CPM, where the guarantee is just for impressions served.
- Have a guaranteed viewability for campaign
- Assign brand buzz KPIs and track the brand uplift after each campaign, so that the numbers on paper / excel sheets are validated in the longer run.
- Use tools like social listening, so that what happens in a media campaign, can be seen in a holistic way, as the consumers have started being expressive about how they look at brands
- Build Trust. This applies to everyone in the industry. Perform to perfection and build the credibility with proof.
- Standardize metrics.
- We at What Clicks, have come up with a solution to standardize metrics across the POE media so that the digital performance across the table can be evaluated in a single view
These are just some of the ways in which we can see media transparency getting better and the trust in digital going up. That’s how brands will look at investing more in digital and the ecosystem will grow.
**The IAB Fee Transparency Calculator provides advertisers and publishers with a granular, partner-specific evaluation of their programmatic technology, service and inventory costs as a percentage of their effective CPM. It is designed to be flexible enough to accommodate most media plan channels and cost models, including CPM based fees, percent of Media Fees, and Flat Fees. The calculator then organizes and quantifies the fees based on their role in the supply chain.