An Easier Path to Media Transparency
Thanks to P&G Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard’s now infamous speech, media transparency is one of the hottest topics today. His remarks put players across the industry — from media agencies to publishers to measurement suppliers spanning the multi-layered, “murky supply chain” — on notice to shape up and get more transparent … or risk losing the business of the world’s largest advertiser. According to Pritchard, “We’re all spending too much of our time and wasting investment on non-standard and faulty measurement. There are too many touches and too many players grading their own homework.”
It’s easy to see why organizations like P&G are fed up. The Association of National Advertisers estimates that today, only 30 to 40 cents of every advertising dollar is spent on working media. That means that up to 70 cents of every advertising dollar is going toward non-media expenses such as consulting fees, technology fees and targeting fees.
Much of the problem lies in the multi-tiered nature of today’s media supply chain, where transactions involve publishers, DSPs/ad networks and agencies. As a result of the different layers, advertisers not only lose visibility into the cost structure, but they also lack a detailed understanding of how their media is performing. They are left grappling with unanswered questions around operations and execution quality, such as:
- Are our ads reaching our target audiences?
- Are we targeting our audiences with the right messages?
- Are we balancing the contextual relevance of our media plan with scale?
- Are the ads hitting our target audiences with the appropriate frequency?
- Is our media mix working?
- Is our campaign delivering quality impressions — humans, viewable, brand-safe?
One approach some organizations are taking to deal with this lack of transparency is to skip the agency layer altogether and bring all programmatic buying of media in-house. While this undoubtedly enables brands to get more control of and enhanced visibility into activities, performance and costs, this approach is fraught with challenges. Many brand teams that start down this path quickly realize they’ve underestimated the time, resources, in-house expertise and organizational commitment needed to make it happen.
Data Ownership Delivers Transparency
Instead of an all-or-nothing approach, brands are increasingly turning to a hybrid model that provides them tighter control, while still tapping the media buying expertise of their agencies. This approach is centered on the brand’s ownership of data. Savvy brands have recognized the need for this core competency, and are focusing resources to enhance their sophistication on this front—by bringing data managers and analysts in house and employing tools that enable them to bring all media data together in one place, and store it centrally for reporting and analytical purposes.
This unfettered access to data gives brand organizations a granular view of activities, performance and spending across each media supply chain layer, helping them more easily pinpoint opportunities for efficiencies. By still relying on agency partners for media buying and execution, brands can maximize internal resources and focus efforts on strategic business endeavors.
Data ownership empowers organizations in three key areas:
- Media Visibility: Enhanced, real-time visibility helps brands see what is happening at each step of the supply chain. Granular, key performance indicators such as impressions, engagement, viewability, reach and frequency can be tracked by segment, publisher, campaign, geography, creative and device—empowering them to make better, faster decisions. Additionally, it allows them to truly understand the percentage of media spend going to actual media.
- Agile Reporting: By bringing together data from publishers, ad servers and third-party tracking services into one centralized place, organizations can more easily support ad-hoc reporting requests, dig deeper into campaign details, and reduce inaccuracies caused by manual reporting methods.
- Business Alignment: By holding the “keys to the data kingdom,” organizations can more easily align marketing performance with internal metrics, such as website traffic and ecommerce sales, prove business ROI on marketing activities, and produce audit data for governance purposes.
The brand/agency relationship continues to evolve, and the industry directive to enhance transparency is a key driver. The goal should be that 70 cents of every advertising dollar is spent on actual media.
To ensure a successful strategic partnership, it’s critical that organizations are crystal clear with potential agency partners about their transparency expectations, and that they put in the work to ensure a mutually successful partnership. By collectively embracing change, striving for higher standards, and implementing tools that enable data ownership, a hybrid partnership approach will help brands and agencies alike down the path to fuller media transparency.
Steven Wastie is the CMO of Origami Logic. He brings over 20 years of experience leading global marketing, product management and business development activities in highly competitive and high growth markets. Before joining Origami Logic, he was CMO at AppDynamics, the market leader in application intelligence and SaaS analytics solutions. He oversaw company messaging and positioning, as well as all outbound marketing and go-to-market activities during a period of explosive growth as the company grew from 250 to 1000 employees. Previously, Wastie served in executive roles in several category leaders and fast growth software innovators including Xirrus, Juniper Networks and Inktomi. He holds a BA in Business Studies and Marketing from London Metropolitan University in the UK.