How advertisers can maximise true value from agency partners and adtech vendors

With a growing desire for a more open advertising ecosystem, the programmatic supply chain is coming under intense scrutiny to clarify where media budgets go, what is being bought, for how much and why.

Nearly half of all brands don’t trust a fifth or more of the data upon which they base media buying decisions, according to a recent Metamarkets report. So, how can buyers ensure that they are minimising risk of fraud, whilst maximising the safety and efficiency of their media spend?

Here are three recommendations:

1. Start with transparency

With the recent spate of news stories circulating in the press that don’t show signs of relenting anytime soon, it is totally understandable that brands are taking a closer look at their current suppliers and demanding transparent practices.

Brand marketers are in charge and agencies and vendors that want to retain their custom are going to have to respond.

“Do you buy media with your own technology stack?” “How do you separate service costs from media spend?” “Can you guarantee 100% of my media spend gets spent on media?” “What transparency tools are in your arsenal?”

“How and where do you source your inventory?” “How do you optimise campaigns?” are just some of the questions brands should be demanding clear answers from their existing and future suppliers.

Don’t be fobbed off by vague commitments to people merely saying they are “transparent” - be firm on your requirements and set clear KPIs in order to get true value from your partnerships.

2. Audit for inventory source, fraud, price and technology

Insist that your partner's support tools like viewability verification to filter inventory supply for quality and maximum relevant reach. Pick suppliers audited by JICWEBS who verify for brand safety and anti-fraud measures that vendors exercise to ensure that the environment where your ads are being served is safe.

In addition to third party audit, buyers should additionally ask themselves questions about the following areas:

- Which third party systems (pre-bid, post-bid and tracking) do you work with to eliminate fraud? e.g. IAS, DoubleVerify, Moat, Tune, Kochava and so on.

- What internal measures do you employ to protect your brand/s and/or customers? e.g. whitelists, blacklists, machine learning anomaly tracking.

- What account management oversight do you have in place to ensure that fraudulent inventory is not being utilised?

- Are your KPIs setting you up for success? Are you sure you are not optimising your activity towards fraudulent sites (or apps) by setting unrealistic click or download targets?

But beyond audits and third party accreditations, do you trust your supplier and have a good relationship with them?

3. Trust and integrity

Greater transparency should lead to greater trust but beyond that, it is the way in which we all conduct business as a whole that must be addressed.

Do you have an honest relationship with your supplier? Can you be sure they are operating in your [the client’s] best interests?

Companies who are not being honest brokers with their clients are being called out for it with expensive lawsuits (Fetch Media are currently being sued by Uber for $40 million in damages for allegations of ad fraud, failure to return rebates and misrepresenting the effectiveness of its mobile ads).

Nobody wants to be taken for a ride, and so it is unfortunate that there are people who know, in full consciousness, that they are making profits dishonestly. Uber’s new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, responded to recent allegations from TfL to revoke their license with the statement:

“Going forward, it’s critical that we act with integrity in everything we do, and learn how to be a better partner…”. It is those partners who stick their neck out above the parapet who will win marketers trust and, therefore, win their business.

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