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Programmatic is key to beating non-transparent practices, says Guardian exec

NEW YORK ? Programmatic advertising could provide the solution to widespread non-transparent activity in the media advertising world, said an executive from The Guardian.

The executive spoke at The Drum's Programmatic Punch panel at this year?s ad:tech New York 2016 at a panel hosted by The Drum. The panel spent significant time discussing the finding?s of a recent report form K2 Intelligence analyzing business practices of the media advertising industry.

?Coming from a print perspective, the report was fascinating to read,? said Jen Soch, executive vice president of commercial delivery at The Guardian US. ?I don?t think there is a complete surprise at what was found.

?There?s going to be a lot more need for advertisers and publishers to really dig into the data to make things as transparent as possible.?

Transparency issues
The discussion was a part of The Drum?s Programmatic Punch series ? a collection of discussions around programmatic marketing theatrically held inside a boxing ring. The first round was focused on the issue of transparency in advertising spending, especially in the media worlds.

In addition to Ms. Soch, the panel also hosted Geoff Greenblatt, head of digital at Ubiquity and Adam Towvim, CEO of Orchrd Consulting.

The wide ranging discussion began with the K2 report, which was commissioned by the Association of National Advertisers, and continued on to the recent controversy over Facebook misrepresenting the amount of views video ads were getting from its users.

The K2 report found that in the media buying ecosystem there was pervasive acts of non-transparency, including offering rebates to media agencies.

This kind of non-transparent behavior negatively affects both the consumers and the advertisers who assume that their ad spend is working for them to its full capacity when in reality it is not.

This type of activity is particularly prevalent in the media world, one that is heavily reliant on advertising to survive.

?With my background on the agency side, I?ve noticed that there is a lot of leakage,? Ms. Soch said. ?The dollars we put into ad spend don?t always match the dollars we get out of it.

?There?s a lot of problems we?ve been looking at.?

The programmatic solution
Media is one of the biggest advertising spaces in the industry, meaning that a lot of money flows through the advertisers and brands that call it home. Transparency and proper measurements are vital to brands getting as much out of every marketing dollar they spend as possible.

That becomes difficult with a lack of transparency however, and especially as there are more agencies and publishers who come between the brand and the consumer.

The K2 report found that the instances of non-transparent behavior were more than just pervasive ? they were systemic. Higher ups in the media agency world were routinely aware of, and sometimes even mandated, non-transparent practices.

The solution for brands then is bringing as much analytics as possible in-house and to use programmatic advertising to avoid the sometimes shady practices that can sap money from their marketing budgets.

?We can transition away from direct buying to the programmatic side as we start to live in a new digital world,? Ms. Soch said. ?There?s a desire to have programmatic and automation in digital advertising now that there wasn?t before.

"There's a lot of things we can do ourselves in the programmatic space."