So­jern’s Josh Beck­with says the race to the bot­tom is end­ing.

Campaign Middle East - - FRONT PAGE - Josh Beck­with

The need for trans­parency in pro­gram­matic is vi­tal. Our in­dus­try suf­fers from a lack of con­fi­dence that has led to struc­tural re­align­ment across the me­dia land­scape. We’ve had our share of set­backs with is­sues like, high-pro­file data breaches, ad fraud and pri­vacy chal­lenges (GDPR com­pli­ance, any­one?). Th­ese have all con­tributed to a general sense that pro­gram­matic can’t be trusted. But, in spite of all of this, pro­gram­matic still de­liv­ers great busi­ness out­comes for ad­ver­tis­ers and it con­tin­ues to ex­pe­ri­ence dou­ble-digit growth.

The in­tro­duc­tion of pro­gram­matic brought with it the idea of true en­gage­ment and trans­parency. Buyers would now know who was see­ing their ads and why. Per­son­alised mar­ket­ing, fu­elled by un­prece­dented lev­els of con­sumer data, meant that real-time cus­tomi­sa­tion of mar­ket­ing mes­sages was pos­si­ble, along with a deep un­der­stand­ing of con­sumer on­line be­hav­iour. This prom­ise fu­elled the ex­plo­sion in pro­gram­matic ad buy­ing.

The pro­gram­matic race to the bot­tom

Be­fore pro­gram­matic swept up the in­dus­try, the dig­i­tal ad mar­ket sup­ported sig­nif­i­cantly higher CPMs. As pro­gram­matic gained pop­u­lar­ity, rather than us­ing it as a chance to es­tab­lish trans­par­ent norms, it be­came a race to the bot­tom. Ev­ery­thing needed to be cheaper, faster, but not al­ways bet­ter. Take video, for ex­am­ple, where CPMs direct from a sup­plier would eas­ily be a $20.00 CPM or more. Now, with pro­gram­matic, sim­i­lar im­pres­sions can be se­cured at $2.00 CPM or less. But it shifted ad­ver­tis­ers away from pre­mium con­tent to al­most ex­clu­sively long-tail pub­lish­ers to find their au­di­ences.

The knock-on ef­fects of switch­ing away from pre­mium to long-tail pub­lish­ers were many. With fewer re­sources and with no brand rep­u­ta­tion at risk, long-tail pub­lish­ers had lit­tle in­cen­tive other than to max­imise in­ven­tory at the low­est price. Ad fraud went up as the qual­ity of in­ven­tory went down. This in turn di­min­ished the end-user ex­pe­ri­ence, driv­ing away the most valu­able users who ei­ther in­stalled an ad blocker or dumped free ad-sup­ported con­tent in favour of high-qual­ity sub­scrip­tion-based con­tent.

The re­sult? Pro­gram­matic be­came a code word for cheap ads and cheaper au­di­ences. Lost was the prom­ise of true en­gage­ment and trans­parency.

Get­ting back to trans­parency

Global drinks brand Coca-Cola re­cently stated that it wants its me­dia to be based on fair­ness not cheap­ness – the best qual­ity tech­nol­ogy, in­ven­tory and prices. This is a step in the right di­rec­tion. We’ve see where the race to the bot­tom leads, and it isn’t a place that any of us want to go. The pas­sage of GDPR cre­ated se­vere penal­ties for com­pa­nies that mis­use con­sumer data. This was the nail in the cof­fin for the race-to-the-bot­tom era. It cre­ated a floor to this phe­nom­e­non, and had the in­tended con­se­quence of forc­ing the in­dus­try to fo­cus on the end-user ex­pe­ri­ence and not just the low­est CPM pos­si­ble.

The way for­ward is for the in­dus­try to build on this and get back to the orig­i­nal prom­ise of pro­vid­ing en­gage­ment and trans­parency for ad­ver­tis­ers. The strength of pro­gram­matic is de­liv­er­ing on real busi­ness out­comes but we must con­sider the level of trans­parency that is re­quired in the process of achiev­ing this. The key to suc­cess in this in­dus­try is bal­anc­ing a le­git­i­mate level of trans­parency with per­for­mance. Those who seek out only com­plete trans­parency may spend the rest of their days get­ting close, but no cigar.

J OSH BECK­WITH Se­nior sales di­rec­tor, Mid­dle East & Africa at So­jern

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.