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Preparing for a Post-Third-Party Cookie World: Identity & the Future of Online Advertising

July 30, 2020 — by Jamie Penkethman

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In theory, the open Web should represent the perfect value exchange economy.  Brands buy media to reach current or potential customers. With that revenue, publishers pay journalists, writers, photographers, graphic artists and engineers to create and deliver the words, sounds and images that enrich society. And bringing it full circle, people get great content for free, while learning more about the products and services that are important to them.

The reality of the open Web is more complex. Brands grapple with an inefficient ad ecosystem. Publishers struggle to monetize effectively. And people lack trust in how their data is used.

Meanwhile, the walled gardens are closing in. Social platforms, the most egregious offenders of consumer data privacy, are the ones benefiting from the backlash their missteps created. And Facebook still hasn’t learned from its mistakes, continuing to allow dubious and misleading content. The demise of the third-party cookie and Apple’s IDFA opt-in make walled gardens stronger, allowing them to leverage their reach and first-party data at the expense of the independent ecosystem.

Our society needs a thriving open ad-supported Web where publishers, brands and people all benefit from value exchange. What can marketers do right now? They first step is to get informed. MediaMath’s whitepaper Preparing for a Post-Third-Party Cookie World: Identity & the Future of Online Advertising explains how identity works today so brands can be informed for tomorrow. Read it to learn more about:

  • Mitigating first-party data loss
  • Transacting on common identifiers
  • Identity graph implementations
  • The first-party approach to replacing third-party cookies
  • The importance of data portability

By understanding how identity works now, marketers can not only prepare for future standards, they can help design a better ecosystem—one in which people continue to get the content they love while feeling certain that their data privacy is respected.

Download Preparing for a Post-Third-Party Cookie World: Identity & the Future of Online Advertising now here.

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Recap of the IAB Digital AdOps Webinar – Part 3: Transparency, Ad Fraud & Brand Safety

July 23, 2020 — by MediaMath

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What are the standards and recommendations for building a more transparent, trustworthy supply chain and how do you encourage their adoption?

Emil Mathias, Partnerships Account Director for MediaMath, recently participated in the IAB Australia’s Digital AdOps Webinar – Part 3: Transparency, Ad Fraud & Brand Safety with IAB AU moderator Jonas Jaanimagi, Adele Wieser of Index Exchange, Jessica Miles of Integral Ad Science, Malcolm Murdoch of ANZ and Jill Wittkopp and Amit Shetty of IAB Tech Lab to discuss this on a global scale.

“What we are hearing from marketers is that brands themselves don’t closely examine [the standards],” said Mathias. “They look to agencies or in-house activation teams to be up to date with them. Rather than brands proactively ensuring their supply chain is using the most up-to-date standards, it’s major events like ICEBUCKET and DrainerBot where we saw more inquiries around requirements. Now we’re seeing increasing interest in supply path optimization and supply chain transparency. As we see the industry move more toward transparency, we expect marketers to take more control in understanding those standards.”

Wittkopp of the IAB Tech Lab says that marketers don’t necessarily need to know all the details of their supply chain, but their tech providers certainly should.

“They should be able to trace a piece of inventory and be able to see the hops that were made in a given transaction before they were ultimately purchased from a publisher and be able to help give that assurance to their agency partners or direct brands,” she said.

Brand safety presents its own separate but related challenge in the supply chain, said Murdoch of ANZ.

“Overall I don’t feel like from a marketing perspective we want to talk about brand safety and equally I feel that we don’t have the space where we are looking at other brands and saying those brands are really good at brand safety.

“The financial transparency is slightly separate from brand safety. But we still need to be in a speed where we need to talk to people about where money is going and a level of certainty where we know where that money ends up and who is getting a slice of the pie.”

Wieser of Index Exchange said, “Transparency is only part of the equation.”

“The second step is obviously accountability. I can go out and say that I’m transparent, but unless I’m completely accountable for my actions and my promises to my clients and my partners, that transparency may not hold up,” she said.

“From that, there is a lot more education and I think everyone needs to do a general upskilling in terms of their understanding of the players, how they are contributing to that transparency in the industry and feeling that they have that level of accountability and they can hold their partners accountable.”

This is where an initiative like SOURCE, our cross-industry collaboration to build a 100 percent accountable, addressable and aligned ecosystem, comes into play, said Mathias.

“The driving belief is that it should drive more trust in programmatic and benefit both the buy- and sell-sides,” he explained. “Through SOURCE, we’re seeing 26 billion ad impressions in APAC a month, improved CPMs and metrics like viewability and pubs are getting increasing shares of media budgets.”

Watch the full panel recording below.

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3 Lessons from the Facebook Ad Boycott

July 8, 2020 — by Daniel Sepulveda

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It’s been almost a month since leading civil rights groups initiated a movement called #StopHateforProfit calling on advertisers to leave Facebook until their demands to eliminate the monetization of hateful content, misinformation and disinformation from the platform are met. The story of how that boycott movement came to be is well told in this Politico article.

Hundreds of the world’s biggest advertisers have heeded the call. The movement is dramatically more successful than anyone could have imagined from that perspective. Unfortunately, Mark Zuckerberg has dug in and is refusing to change the platform’s practices, arguing that advertisers will come back to the platform—at some point.

Facebook has some of the best engineers in the world and is an incredibly powerful platform. But that is not the right lesson to learn from this situation. As a company that also deals in digital advertising, we believe there are three key lessons for society and marketers to take away from this event.

1. Advertisers have both the power and responsibility to drive the development of a healthy media ecosystem, and the Facebook of today is not healthy.

Advertisers are Facebook’s actual customers, not its users. They are ours as well, but we cannot and would not ignore their concerns. The fact that Facebook believes it can is a market problem. The fact that it does is a societal problem. And it’s one advertisers can solve by shifting their spend to better, safer, more curated media available across the open Internet.

Facebook is a juggernaut in advertising because it is cheap to advertise on, it knows its billions of users intimately and it is designed to keep them engaged on the platform by amplifying all kinds of content, some good, some deplorable. Advertisers flock to it because they see the low price at which they can reach millions of people in a highly targeted way. But that price does not capture the full cost to their brand.

Every responsible corporation that is mission-driven and focused on building long-term, mutually respected relationships with consumers is damaged every time its ads appear next to hateful, racist and/or inaccurate content. By its own admission, Facebook only catches 90% of hate speech on its platform and, given the volume of content that it publishes, that other 10% constitutes a lot of awfulness.

What the last two weeks have shown us is that advertisers from Unilever to CVS recognize that it is their responsibility to society to not fund that kind of content.  It is inconsistent with their own values, and it’s not what their customers want them to do. It will be interesting to see if mission-driven, direct-to-consumer brands and others with smaller advertising budgets follow suit for the same reason.

2. Advertisers are overspending on Facebook to the detriment of news publishers and diverse voices curating healthy content on the open Internet.

The percentage of spend that advertisers funnel into Facebook comes from media budgets that could be going into high-quality news publishers or websites independent of Facebook. As a result of that disproportionate spend, Zuckerberg has argued they can wait out the boycott without changing their practices or listening to their customers. They believe there is no competitive alternative that can do what their advertisers want. They are mistaken.

Advertisers would do well for themselves and society to ensure that they finance more pathways to consumers on more responsible media. The decline in advertising on news publishers, local and national, and the lack of investment in minority-owned or -serving publishers is in large part because advertisers are funneling their spend to Facebook. Advertisers may have brand-safety concerns over advertising on the open Internet or may worry that the scale isn’t there to be effective on curated media, but the market is addressing those concerns. There are strong brand-safety and suitability tools to ensure that advertising on the open Internet and in the news specifically is done intelligently and safely. There are also marketplace solutions coming together to enable buying on minority-serving publishers or local news at scale easily.

3. All of us engaged in the business of the Internet need to do a better job of ensuring it finances responsible media.

MediaMath as a business was born from the idea that the power of mathematics could be brought to the efficient purchasing of media. We focused on building the smartest tools and enabling the most cutting-edge tech solutions to make that process easy and effective for our clients. But we recognized a few years ago that we needed to elevate the “media” in MediaMath to a higher place of prominence because it was time for the ecosystem to evolve. We have partnered with NewsGuard to help weed out misinformation from the supply we access and are working with supply-side platforms independent of Facebook to create minority- and news-specific sources of inventory that our clients can target. Context matters, content matters, brown and Black voices and their stories matter. Let’s start financing the right things.

We want to be part of the solution, and we want to partner with publishers and advertisers that have learned these lessons as well. We’re ready if you are.

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Connected TV: Looking Beyond the COVID-19 Opportunity to the Post-Cookie World

July 1, 2020 — by Jeremy Steinberg

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This post originally went live on our SOURCE partner LiveRamp’s blog here. 

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a dramatic increase in time spent consuming media accelerated a shift to over-the-top (OTT) content on connected TV (CTV) devices, as daily consumer behavior started to resemble that of the weekend with more individuals staying at home. Streaming services were up 40%, smartphone use up 34%, and content consumption on the internet was up 34% in March, according to Advertiser PerceptionsFurther, research from the IAB demonstrates that when it comes to changes in targeting tactics in Q2OTT/CTV device targeting saw the second biggest increase next to audience targeting.

CTV supply and viewership are up

With brands pulling back spend, there are fewer advertisers in the space with budgets despite more viewers at home watching CTV than ever before. This means less inventory demand than there’s ever been and, simultaneously, more supply, which has allowed prices to drop. Within the MediaMath platform, inventory supply for CTV grew 20% over the month of February, with an increasing portion of buys shifting towards mobile in-app CTV, further demonstrating industry trends being influenced by COVID-19.

We can’t be 100% certain but based on preliminary studies, we can predict how consumption behaviors may change or accelerate in the long-term due to the adaptations and disruptions sustained during COVID-19. For example, cord-cutting was already a trend before the pandemic and will continue as we enter subsequent phases of reopening. But even more important to highlight is that consumers are no longer relying on just one or two ways of consuming TV content, but rather are using a combination of different platforms, often across different devices and at different points in time. With new types of platforms and content on the horizon, TV content has become truly on-demand—not just with respect to time viewed but also across devices and platforms used to view the content.

CTV is a critical channel for maintaining addressability

CTV will also be a critical channel in the post-third-party cookie world as marketers look to achieve greater addressability. First-party identity, based on user-authentication and respect for privacy preferences, will be the path forward. Pseudonymous identifiers, such as LiveRamp IdentityLink®, are rooted in this type of user authentication and will offer addressability in browsers and channels where third-party cookies are restricted.

So how do marketers make the most of the CTV opportunity, both as we continue to navigate COVID-19 and beyond to a post-cookie world? The key is to treat CTV holistically and create a strategy that includes all screens and formats (video and display).

To do that, you need an identity graph that includes a notion of how CTVs associate with users and their other devices. These connections enable true omnichannel marketing and measurement—all while making the following capabilities possible:

  • Extension of your first-party data to CTV
  • Audience targeting on CTV, including demographic and behavioral targeting
  • Reach and frequency management across all devices
  • Omnichannel sequential messaging
  • Driving ROI on CTV brand awareness spend by retargeting users on other devices
  • Capturing OTT viewership—CTV content viewed not just on your TV, but on other digital devices too

An identity graph can also add a household-level association to people and devices. For CTV, this enables more powerful attribution and features that appeal to linear buyers such as:

  • Increased incremental reach on TV buys (which is critical due to audience fragmentation on linear content)
  • The ability to reach cord-cutters and cord-nevers (viewers who are traditionally unreachable on linear) or light TV viewers who may not have been exposed to your linear TV commercial
  • Measurement that is more holistic across devices and tells a true cross-screen customer engagement story

Managing identity is critical to CTV

Managing identity is the critical step in making the most of the CTV opportunity. Here’s an example of a full-funnel, omnichannel campaign that transforms CTV spend into ROI:

  1. Awareness: A customer is part of a loyalty program and sees an ad on their CTV, driving awareness of a new product.
  2. Interest: They get sequential ads on their phone about a holiday promotion.
  3. Consideration: This piques their interest, so they check out the site, but don’t buy anything.
  4. Purchase: ID #1234 receives ads on their laptop reminding them of the sale, and makes a purchase!

We have much work to do and much change ahead of us as we navigate both the next phases of COVID-19 and the deprecation of third-party cookies. Throughout both, CTV will continue to be an increasingly important channel for a marketer’s mix as they endeavor to reach consumers with relevance and respect.

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TechBytes with Anudit Vikram SVP of Product at MediaMath

June 29, 2020 — by MediaMath

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This interview originally appeared on MarTech Series

Hi Anudit, tell us about your experience as a Product Management leader in AdTech during a lockdown crisis?

Covid-19 has changed the rules of the game with businesses re-aligning their priorities to address the suddenly changed needs of their customers. The key to success in these times is clear communication across the organization, ensuring everyone understands and is on the same page with the new objectives. At MediaMath, our team is set up to change course in required direction swiftly.

How do you relay your ideas and managerial expectations with your team? Any tool, app or solutions that have helped you meet ad tech demands faster?

The current situation has amplified the need for clarity in communication. More so for people taking on new roles or joining new organizations. We used to get together in a meeting room around a whiteboard, or over lunch. Now it has to be done virtually.  Building new relationships through purely virtual means has its challenges. Video conferencing certainly helps since it gives a sense of body language and receptivity to an idea. Long-form writing is becoming more relevant so that plans, ideas and expectations are properly detailed.

Programmatic ad tech marketplace is bursting with energy and optimism. Which ad formats would rule the space in the coming week, and why?

Within the COVID context, the boon and the bane for programmatic advertising is its flexibility. Programmatic advertising allows marketers to adjust campaigns on demand and shift ad budgets to new and emerging channels on demand. We started to see brands and agencies moving their budgets to channels like CTV. It is the very same flexibility which enables advertisers to run a test in a programmatic channel with ease, tweak program goals and desired outcomes in real-time, with preferred financial commitments. Dynamic Creative Optimization with its ability to tailor messaging in real-time is set up well for these times and, of course, with the increase in video content consumption, video ad formats are certainly seeing an uptick.

We hear that gaming experiences are driving customers to experiment a lot with various ad formats. Any advice to publishers and advertisers looking to monetize gaming platforms to deliver ad experiences?

The greatest advantage of in-game advertising is that it is unlike traditional advertising media which are essentially passive and offer mainly one-way communication—from the advertiser to the consumer – games are inherently an interactive medium and user interaction with the ad is more detailed. From the game publisher’s perspective, this means they can create a very engaging monetization vehicle and provide more in-depth metrics into the consumer’s interaction with the ad. For the brand, this provides a great channel for direct communication with their target consumer.

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Learn Anytime, Anywhere During The Great Pause

June 22, 2020 — by Laura Rodriguez-Costacamps

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It’s the middle of what has turned out to be a chaotic, confusing and concerning year on multiple levels. These days, I feel like every meeting, every email, every blog post, every work DM starts with a genuine, “I hope you’re well” and is followed up with a deep sigh.

Still, this time in history is also being referred to as The Great Pause. While all of the craziness of our lives is now compressed into an even a shorter amount of time in an even smaller space—and don’t I know it as I’ve spent much of it entertaining/ensuring survival of a toddler, cooking, cleaning and working in a New York City apartment—it’s also given us time to reflect on what is truly important and how to better prioritize it. It’s a time to invest in ourselves as individuals and also in the future of our industry and our world. I would go as far as to say, as our CEO Joe has said in the past, that advertising can play a critical role in the issues facing our world right now. It helps fund information people need to read, it educates us and it can give us hope when things seem hopeless.

For my part, I have always believed that learning is lifelong and can be done anywhere. As the Head of MediaMath Academy, we have always strived to meet the digital advertising learner where they are—and lately, that’s remotely on a computer. As we head into the official start of summer break in the Northern Hemisphere, my colleagues and I have been working diligently to bring the industry and our clients new learning opportunities to keep them learning through the summer and beyond. You might argue that you don’t have the time. I would respectfully debate that there is no better time than now, during The Great Pause.

So while we can’t necessarily quiet the noise in the world right now or get some much-needed space, we have done our best to help our fellow marketers continue to grow and learn and explore new opportunities through bite-sized, self-paced modules so they can learn wherever and whenever suits them—all for free. We are especially excited to share our newest connected TV content in a time where we are all at home consuming more digital media than ever.

If there’s one thing you do this summer, we ask that you consider taking a few minutes to invest in yourself. Check out our newest course for everyone, Programmatic and Emerging Channels, and for our clients, we encourage you to learn more from our Omnichannel Campaign Setup in T1 Certification and our MediaMath Audiences Product Overview course.

Information is power. Harness it now, before we shift from The Great Pause to the time to press “play” again.

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Black Lives Matter to Us

June 3, 2020 — by Joe Zawadzki

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We have watched with outrage and heartbreak the events surrounding the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. We stand in solidarity with the Black community against violence, hate and injustice. This has nothing to do with politics—it has to do with human rights. Everyone has a right to feel safe and protected regardless of the color of their skin.

At MediaMath, we strive to create a diverse, inclusive and safe community through our recruiting and hiring practices and celebrate our diversity through our Diversity and Inclusion Council and employee resource groups. However, we know we must do better, both as individuals and as a company. From a diversity and inclusion perspective, we are nowhere near where we need to be. We pledge to our employees, clients and partners to reflect deeply on what we need to do to change this and then work unceasingly to make it so.

This includes, first and foremost, listening to our black colleagues to understand how they feel, what they have experienced and how we can support them. Then, to effect real change, we must hold our leaders accountable for creating a diverse and inclusive workforce. We cannot delegate this work to anyone else in the organization or on our teams. It is a personal responsibility for every leader and will have an impact that shows over time.

The work to end systematic racism and injustice will require constant work, from top to bottom, across all spheres of our lives. We cannot forget the task ahead for all of us when the heavy media attention wanes. What we do in the face of the ugliness we are witnessing right now—ugliness that has reared its head in some form countless times over the course of American history—will define the future for the next generation. We all belong. Let’s work to create a world in which everyone truly feels this every day of their lives.

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MediaMath Wins Best Account Support Ahead of Competitors for the Second Time in AdExchanger Awards

May 29, 2020 — by TJ Ceballos

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People matter more than ever right now—even if we remain connected to each other in a mostly virtual capacity.

A week ago, we won an AdExchanger Award for Best Account Support by a Technology Company for the second year in a row, ahead of some of our biggest competitors. This award means so much because it’s won in the trenches. It is a validation of the efforts of each individual within our customer-facing organization, who sees each engagement with our customers as an opportunity to deepen our partnership.

With this incredible industry validation—-some of the award judges were our own clients and partners—we took time to reflect on the initiatives that continue to frame our differentiated engagement approach.

Customers at the core

MediaMath has a continuous culture of evolving our customer engagement model with a focus on customer-centricity. Right before COVID hit, MediaMath reorganized its Commercial side of the house into six verticalized pods in North America and four in EMEA. Each pod is aligned with specific individuals from our Customer Success organization to drive seamless consistency for both internal teams and clients. It is, in effect—to use a term top of mind for many of us during this chaotic time—a support system. This structure has not only brought us closer (in a social distancing-approved way) both to each other and to our clients during a time in which we need to be in virtual lockstep to carry on business over Zoom and Slack and email. It has also brought us closer to living the principles of SOURCE—accountability, addressability and alignment—through our people.

With our pods, three previous existing customer relationships—trading, client services and business development—report up unto the same structure and are focused on driving differentiation presale through to execution. Think of it as a realigned customer center of excellence. The learnings we garner from our customers allow us to be agile in responding to other client needs, especially during critical times like COVID-19.

Lean on us

Our Support function, which ensures clients get expertise and seamless execution of marketing campaigns when it comes to our DSP or other MediaMath products and offerings, has gone through a complete transformation. Historically, a rotating cast of individuals would pick up client tickets. We wanted to create a stronger relationship with our clients by providing a consistent team they could count on each day. So, this function reformed itself through the pods and matched individuals with specific clients to provide a deep understanding of their businesses and have the same team supporting them on an ongoing basis. We also redesigned our customer portal to provide an easy and streamlined process for clients to keep track of all the tickets they have opened, recommended articles based on keywords they type and more.

Happy teams, happy clients

Our teams have experienced an uptick in cohesiveness, resolution time and their ability to get information across to clients thanks to these changes in structure and process. Improvements to efficiency and scale have made them a happier working group, which has strengthened their commitment to serving our clients. It is my absolute pleasure and fortune to lead this talented group of people who are in the trenches daily. As the market continues reinforcing the importance of services, our people will continue holding themselves to the same standards of transparency, efficiency and alignment that we hold our products and partners to so clients can achieve outstanding outcomes.

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Digital Advertising Has a Transparency Problem. How Can We Fix It?

May 28, 2020 — by Mark Kopera

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This post originally appears on the Oracle Data Cloud blog here

Current state of transparency

As one of the biggest monetary drivers of the internet, it’s undeniable that the digital advertising market is a powerful economic force. And with good reason—one of its hallmarks over traditional media has been the ability for marketers to measure the effectiveness of their ads, connecting the dots between ads and consumer engagement. However, there remains ample opportunity for improvement to achieve and maintain a certain level of transparency among all players in the digital media supply chain.

As billions of dollars are poured into programmatic each year (and growing), it’s a wake-up call to the industry that 40 percent of CMOs do not trust the process. Further, as digital advertising technology advances and becomes more robust, new challenges have surfaced thanks to a crowded, fast-paced, algorithmic-dependent space. And in these uncertain times when marketers are pausing their ad spend and reducing their budgets across the board, they are primed to be hypervigilant about the vendors they choose and the company they keep.

Who’s involved

The digital media ecosystem includes many intertwined participants: publishers, advertisers, agencies, data providers, social media platforms, technology vendors, and more. One bad actor can create a domino effect that muddles the entire process. However, pinpointing who to blame when things go haywire is a challenge in itself, as almost six in 10 ad operations professionals citing it is difficult to track down unauthorized players.

What issues need clarity first?

The most pressing example of the need for transparency is the problem of ad fraud. According to eMarketer, recent estimates for lost revenue to fraud range from $6.5 billion to $19 billion—a vast scale that also highlights the industry’s struggle to nail down specifics in an ever-evolving game of whack-a-mole.

Automation and ability to maintain anonymity are big triggers in the proliferation of fraud in digital advertising. And despite the common notion that it only affects advertisers and publishers, ad fraud does pose a real threat to consumers.

Driving this point home was last year’s discovery of “DrainerBot,” a devious advertising bot that infected various mobile apps, driving up data charges for thousands of innocent smartphone owners.

Beyond fraud, other areas in the digital advertising industry that remain under constant scrutiny are continuing obscurity in allocation of ad spend, the ways in which programmatic algorithms work, and lack of clarity into level of risk across the landscape. What can stakeholders do to fight a reputation of ambiguity and facilitate a new standing of thoroughness, built in trust?

A collective push toward accountability

Thankfully, the industry is already taking measures to clean itself up and gain back trust. Various trade bodies have stood up transparency-based initiatives and are remaining steadfast in creating a more trusted environment for publishers, advertisers, and consumers.

Three of these initiatives are 4A’s Advertiser Protection Bureau (APB), MediaMath’s SOURCE, and IAB’s ads.txt. Themes from each group include pledges promising responsibility, thoroughness, and enhanced validation practices.

This all points toward progress. But even as the industry pushes for broader accountability, it will ultimately come down to the willful engagement of each and every participant including advertisers, publishers, and tech vendors.

Compacting small adjustments to make a larger impact over time and maintaining higher standards in every part of the process will have a powerful influence on the state of the digital ecosystem.

With great responsibility comes great trust

In pushing for more transparency in ad spend allocation, algorithms, and vigorously tackling ad fraud, the digital media industry will continue to confront some of its greatest challenges. It will take time and there will be setbacks, but the endgame is worth the fight.

Because the opportunity for the industry to truly embrace its responsibility as a powerful player in the digital space is one that could not only improve the sentiment toward internet advertising, but also even uplift the entire online experience.

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Why Programmatic’s Word of the Year Should Be “Ownership”

May 26, 2020 — by Chris Keenan

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Ownership.

This was the first word that came to mind when Paul Gubbins asked, “In one word, what can programmatic offer both buyers and sellers that a direct IO booking may struggle to match?” during Mediatel’s “Future of Media Trading” panel earlier this month.

The fact that we are even comparing programmatic to direct IO buys is frightening to me. But with the ground continuously shifting beneath our feet with GDPR in 2018, CCPA in 2019, the never-ending “death of the third-party cookie” and, most recently, the ISBA study which speaks to how only 51 percent of every dollar reaches the publisher, maybe this comparison is warranted? The last thing brand managers need to hear is that 15 percent of their COVID-slashed budgets cannot be accounted for due to an ominous “unknown delta.”

Eighty-six percent of brands in European countries have already partially in-housed their programmatic operations according to a 2019 IAB study. But are their technology partners truly enabling them to take ownership of their programmatic strategy?

I believe there are three key areas in which we’ll see brands take on more ownership throughout 2020. Let’s dig in.

Ownership of your outcomes

It is only appropriate to start with outcomes, as that is what every marketing team needs to prove out to secure additional, unbudgeted investment—or, in today’s times, to simply retain any of the existing commitment. It has never been more important than now for CMOs to connect media metrics to financial metrics like ARPU, LTV, churn rate and payback period. The hurdle rate for investment in marketing has only gotten higher.

Ownership of your data

Everyone has access to the same DSPs that you do, but only you have access to your first-party data. It’s what you do with it that will determine if your marketing team is a contributor to building a defensible moat for your company.

Partners have traditionally provided limited access to raw data, preventing advertisers from being able to analyze media efficacy and customer behavior on their own. One reason cited for the low 12 percent match rate in the ISBA study is that log-level data was not available, so the researchers had to instead rely on aggregated data. This is simply unacceptable in 2020.

By putting log-level data (inclusive of a pseudonymous user identifier!) in the hands of its rightful owners, brands can build a competitive advantage for themselves by developing proprietary decisioning and optimization logic atop MediaMath’s APIs. There are varying levels of sophistication and complexity, starting with custom attribution modeling, leveraging your own optimization algorithms or, ultimately, utilizing our Custom Bid Router capability, which allows brands to respond to bid opportunities via their own AI/ML environment.

Ownership of your supply chain

We are getting closer to a world in which advertisers are not beholden to a murky supply chain but are instead actively participating in one that is a curated, aligned and based on an optimized subset of hundreds of supply and technology vendors globally. All advertisers now care about quality no matter how they are executing digital marketing. To offer the level of transparency that brands deserve, you will see DSPs begin to operate differently:

  • DSPs won’t work with all partners—just the best ones who truly add value.
  • DSPs won’t tout their QPS metrics as a selling point—they will curate access to the highest quality and performant inventory.
  • DSPs won’t shy away from audit requests—they will proactively make log-level data available.

As the ISBA report points out, it takes providing absolute transparency to both brands and publishers and alignment between publishers, ad tech intermediaries and advertisers through bidirectional data-sharing. This means modernized commercial terms that hold each partner contractually accountable for providing incremental value within the ad tech supply chain. It’s also accountability to implementing the technical standards buyers require—impression-level fee transparency and alignment on the latest impression-counting mechanisms within OpenRTB—to provide them transparency into price, partners and the purposefulness of ad spend across all ways in which they access media programmatically.

The driving belief behind our SOURCE initiative is that “the sum of all parts is greater than the whole”. If a rising tide lifts all boats, no independent DSP will be able to best serve their clients by being an island. We are already working with 15+ best-in-breed partners who share the same vision for a 100 percent accountable, addressable and aligned ecosystem underpinned by modernized commercial terms and updated technical specifications. But we are only getting started.

Ultimately, it comes down to if transparency is a publicly stated priority on a technology partner’s roadmap. Have they put their stake in the ground? This is not a movement in which you can simply be a willing participant. You must be an enthusiastic evangelist for it. You must be a champion for accountability in the supply chain.

With each step we take toward a fully transparent supply chain, we will naturally see a shift away from ominous “unknown deltas” and into working media that you should demand of our industry.