“The days of giving digital a pass is over. It’s time to grow up and it’s time for action.”
— Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer at Procter & Gamble as reported by AdAge
The digital advertising industry has a transparency problem and one of the world’s biggest brands is calling for change.
In January 2017, P&G’s Chief Brand Officer, Marc Pritchard announced a 5-point program, essentially threatening to cut ties with all digital advertising agencies if they didn’t clean up their opaque practices. Pritchard’s plan called for agencies to address the issues of ad fraud, brand safety, and transparency.
Since his powerful speech at the Interactive Advertising Bureau's Annual Leadership Meeting, companies like L’Oreal, JPMorgan Chase, Audi, and McDonald’s have developed their own in-house advertising teams and placement algorithms.
But, those are major corporations. Smaller brands might not have the resources or time to completely restructure existing digital advertising strategies. Fortunately, there are ways you can take control of your brand’s ad intelligence for more transparency. Here’s how.
1. Choose the Right Agency Partners
One big transparency problem in digital advertising is the practice of unclear contracts between the agencies, media buyers and brands.
Media placement companies and agencies have been reported to accept kickbacks without the client's knowledge. The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) released a report uncovering the “pervasive” practice of secretly taking cash rebates from media companies.
Of the 150 advertising businesses interviewed, 59 said they directly experienced non-transparent dealings, with 34 sources specifically citing rebates.
Not all ad agencies and media buyers have bad intentions. But, you should demand transparency during the creation and distribution of your online advertisements. Ensure you thoroughly review partner contracts and consider asking the following questions:
- How do you track performance metrics?
- Do you use programmatic advertising?
- How can I see where my ads appear online?
- What kind of platforms and tools do you use to ensure brand safety?
In the end, it’s your name published on the web. Be upfront, clear, and thorough when choosing a partner to avoid any transparency issues.
2. Incorporate Ad Intelligence
An effective way to control your brand’s online ad transparency is by using advertising intelligence platforms for more visibility into performance and distribution. Consider using platforms like Pathmatics for more insight into your creatives, spend, impressions, and channels. Brands can use tools to see exactly how much they are paying per impression and how these ads are being delivered.
Let’s say you want to know how much of your digital advertising budget your agency partner is spending. You can use ad intelligence platforms to see exactly how much is being spent on specific campaigns. Then if you notice any discrepancies, you can use share this data with your partner and find out what’s really going on.
3. Increase Visibility with Specific Platform Features
Ad intelligence platforms are great for insights and data on how well your campaigns are doing, but platforms with unique ad tracking features can really help you control transparency. Consider using platforms that have ad tracking capabilities that allow you to see every site your ad appears on, how much is being spent on that site, and how many consumers are seeing it.
For example: Pathmatics includes an AdRoutes browser extension that enables users to view real-time digital ad information. Through this tool, you can learn about who your brand is buying impressions from, who you’re selling impressions to, how they are buying and selling them, and the top sites for your brand.
Transparency is a real issue that needs to be addressed from the start. The more you neglect it, the harder it is to track the problem back to the beginning. Choose your partners wisely and use platforms and tools to take your brand’s intelligence into your own hands.
Ken Roberts has been immersed in marketing and technology for over a decade, merging creative strategies with the latest technology, to bring products together with the people who need them. With degrees in Engineering, Computer Science and an MBA, Ken’s background in product management, marketing, sales, analytics and technology lends to his ability to attack product challenges on multiple levels. Ken began his career developing software solutions for medical records before transitioning to marketing. Ken focused on building marketing departments and operating in-house agencies. Ken’s experience with digital platforms, internet based marketing, lead scoring and business intelligence, and reporting, as well as a keen market understanding, are a welcome addition to Pathmatics, only matched by a leadership philosophy that encourages high creativity and ownership from his team.