Programmatic Transparency: The $22 Billion Opportunity | Industry Insights | All MKC Content | ANA

Programmatic Transparency: The $22 Billion Opportunity


By now, you are undoubtedly familiar with at least the key recommendations from the ANA's ongoing Programmatic Media Supply Chain Transparency Study. If not, fear not, for over the next few weeks, I'll be laying them out in plain terms — and, trust me, it uncovered some seriously eye-opening insights that are important to your business!

And it really isn't all doom and gloom. The study found there's $22 billion up for grabs in extra media productivity. For context, that's $3 billion more than the GDP of Albania. All it will take for you to realize your fair share of that is a full view of your supply chain that delivers your impressions to the marketplace. By clawing these dollars back from unproductive media and reinvesting them in viewable, measurable media that deliver wholesome experiences for readers, marketers will also help the digital ecosystem by better signalling their expectation of value in programmatic and unwillingness to reward those vendors who fail to deliver to that standard.

So, in this blog series, I'll be covering the top 10 issues the study has revealed and precisely how brands can go about tackling them in relatively straightforward ways.

We'll hit:

  • Made-For-Advertising websites (MFAs): They're the ones with ads plastered throughout, annoying pop-ups, and tons of paid traffic. Sure, their low CPMs lure some marketers to welcome them on their plan to blend down their overall campaign CPM, while their allegedly high video completion rates also contribute to overall campaign vanity metrics, but I'll lay out how shifting your budget away from these MFA sites means better value for you and experiences for your prospects.

  • Website overload: The study found that participating brands averaged a whopping 44,000 websites per campaign, roughly six times the number of sites that study participants had on their inclusion lists, on average. We'll look at why, by sticking to fewer sites, you'll still reach your audience without all the risks that these unvetted sites add to your plan and redundancies that significantly drive up your carbon footprint into the bargain.

  • Being picky about your supply paths: It's not just about which and how many SSPs you work with, it's about which supply paths work best and remembering that these can change daily. You can't inspect what you don't see, and I will help clients better define their expectations to empower teams and agencies to better monitor your supply paths to ensure it's not becoming unnecessarily cumbersome and inefficient.

  • Why private marketplaces (PMPs) aren't necessarily the answer: They can still be a haven for made-for-advertising sites. This finding really surprised me as I thought that PMPs inoculated campaigns from the risk of running on low quality sites, at least from the media that is placed through them, but the study found that that is far from the truth.

  • Why viewability absolutely matters: There are plenty of tools for understanding which impressions are real but we'll look at how they can be used as part of your optimization, not just as table stakes for delivery.

  • How transparency is vital for compliance: Whether brand safety, sustainability, or diversity, equity, and inclusion, no amount of spreadsheet success can make up for failing on these issues. You need to know where your ads are running to, protect your brand and improve the quality of your measurement.

  • Getting your hands on that log level data (LLD): This one is absolutely vital! I know it sounds tedious, but trust me, it will be a game-changer for improving ad placement quality and campaign performance. I'll walk through why.

I am an enormous champion of programmatic media and believe that its efficiencies and the speed and quality of its data exhaust will be game changers for marketers when it operates in the elusive "clean, well-lit environment" that so many of us have been talking about for years. Indeed, some DSPs pride themselves on operating transparently and with their clients' best interests at the center of their offerings. One of my fundamental beliefs is that generalizations are generally wrong and it's important that you put in the work and make your own assessments about your supply paths against the points and principles that I intend to lay out in the coming weeks.

In this series, what I'm really hoping to do is show how data asymmetry has truly degraded the programmatic opportunity for my fellow marketers, and made its promise ever more elusive. When buyers and sellers have access to the same information as the rest of their supply chain, marketplaces become sustainable and everyone is incentivised to deliver true value and, in programmatic, this is far from what we see. When marketers know the questions to ask and their teams follow-up to ensure that the full supply chain is living up to expectations, everyone will win.

This first post here is just the start. Please be on the look out for the rest in this series and let me know what you think as we go along.

The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

Lou Paskalis is CEO of AJL Advisory, focusing on helping marketers to improve their growth narrative. In addition, Lou is the chief strategy officer of Ad Fontes Media, dedicated to restoring advertisers' investments in journalism. Lou has been working with FiduciaDLT, the team that completed all of the work on The ANA Programmatic Transparency Study on behalf of TAG/TrustNet.