‘Horrified by the state of programmatic’: Overheard at Digiday’s data-driven media selling Hot Topic

Publishers gathered at Digiday’s Hot Topic event on data-driven media selling in London on Nov. 14 to discuss the state of data transparency, ad fraud, the future of first-price auctions and what data strategy will look like in a post-General Data Protection Regulation world.

Here are some of the concerns they voiced at the event.

Common standards for transparency
“The challenge is everyone is talking about transparency, but there’s no standard, no transparency metric. What’s not clear is what element we want to be transparent. Is it possible to create a dashboard interface that sits above the programmatic supply chain, allowing each of the four actors — the publisher, advertiser, agency and the independent auditor — to log in and see at any point when and where a transaction is being made, eliminating bad actors from that chain?”

“We just need to set some rules so publishers have a level playing field and access to the same tools.”

“We need to work with brands on the other signals that work to drive campaign performance. It’s not only about audience buying.”

“Understanding our contribution to a brand’s bottom line is more of a focus than quarterly ad spend.”

“Everyone has their own agenda, either to make as much money as possible or get inventory as cheap as possible. So, between the main parties there’s a massive disconnect.”

“Unless you are held accountable for breaking those transparency rules, which I don’t think you will be, I don’t see people putting them in place.”

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“There is still tension throughout the whole supply chain, and everyone has their own agenda.”

Tackling ad fraud
“Our marketing team [is] horrified by the state of programmatic. They say, ‘This is so messy. Do we really have to put our spend here?’”

“Simple contractual changes with tech vendors, which specify they are willing to expose fraud — that would help address the issue.”

“People are even gaming the destination URLs of ads. At that level, it shows things are fundamentally broken.”

“There are so many things coming down the pipe — identifiers, ads.txt, invalid traffic, human traffic — where do you focus your time?”

“People are turning display units into video units and selling it on. It’s a big problem still.”

Preparing for the GDPR
“We’re planning for the possibility that if people [advertisers] panic and aren’t GDPR-ready in time, so they just stop spending. We’re starting to put plans together to offset that — looking at how to get ready for what could be a very turbulent period.”

“GDPR is the shroud that overlays our entire data strategy. But it can still be a cause for hope if we can get the right language to communicate the need for permissions.”

“There is a lot of fear that consumers won’t understand all the sudden need for consent. Getting the messaging right is going to be challenging.”

“Some clients are only just getting their heads around it.”

Building direct relationships with advertisers
“We want to get to the point with advertisers where we make a serious impact on their bottom line, then we’re in.”

“When you get to that stage of the conversation, it changes the sales pitch — they show us how their attribution models work. We’re talking to them more about how to find the right quality audience. It’s about two-way sharing.”

“We’ve found advertisers care more about what bids they’re losing, as opposed to which they’re winning. So being able to show them that information is empowering direct data opportunities with advertisers.”

“We don’t intend to disintermediate agencies. We will start the conversations with the client, and then the agencies will manage the budget and spend.”

First-price vs. second-price auctions
“First-price auctions give us the ability to have proper supply-path optimization conversations with our buyers.”

“If you’re going to run first-price auctions, you need to be transparent with your buyers.”

“Probe your ad tech partners on whether they can support first-price auctions.”

“The buy side is not ready to support first-price auctions. The supply-side platforms have done a load of work to support first-price auctions, but none of the demand-side platforms, barring AppNexus, have prepared for it.”

Jess Davies contributed reporting

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