Transparency: Are Pubs Just Waiting For Buyers To Define It?

The final panel at the Video Insider Summit this weekend explored the topic of programmatic video buying in 2014. To kick things off, MediaPost's Gavin O'Malley, the panel moderator, predicted that in 2014, panels on programmatic won't be left to the end of conferences. "It will be taking over," he quipped.

One of the most interesting conversations that unfolded from the panel — which included Varick Media's Keith Gooberman, Videohub's Chris Klopp, BrightRoll's Lucas Krump, and LiveRail's Troels Smit — was the mixed topic of transparency, viewability, standards, and the role of the buyers and sellers in figuring it all out.

The term "transparency is key," was used more than once, and I've never had anyone tell me otherwise. But I'm starting to wonder: Is that because saying "transparency is key" is what everyone wants to hear, or is it because everyone truly believes it?

LiveRail works with publishers, so Smit was the panel's de facto expert on sellers. He said that from the publisher's perspective, "there's a willingness to be completely transparent," and they are mostly waiting around for the buyers to set a standard.

They aren't waiting around for any lack of efforts on the buy side. For one, the OpenVV group — a consortium that provides a viewability tool in the hopes of helping to create industry standards — quadrupled its members over the summer (up to 20) and likely has more now.

Yet you would think — or I would, at least– that with the entire industry thinking "transparency is key," there would be a little more action from the industry-wide call to action. However, that might be because the nature of real-time anything might not be conducive to a fully transparent market. I know this specific panel was about online video, but transparency is an important topic to all media traders, especially to those trading in real-time.

My colleague and fellow RTBlogger, Joe Mandese, wrote about transparency earlier this month. In that post, he cited an opinion piece written by Nick Manning, president-international at Ebiquity, in which Manning argued that "real-time trading isn’t creating the kind of market transparency many of its supporters claim it is." Instead, he believes "it’s making the process even more difficult for marketers to decipher."

Even if that's true, the industry does seem to be moving toward standards and transparency. To quote Krump (and almost everyone else I've spoke with on the topic): "More and more players are getting on board with standards." So it's fair to assume that the phrase "transparency is key" is more than just hot air, and that buyers are willing to figure out how to make the key fit.

But the all-important question seems to be: Will they all adopt one standard, or will they all try to create their own?

If we are to take Smit's word for it, sellers are ready for buyers to answer that.

"Transparency" picture provided courtesy of Shutterstock.

Check out the panel below:

Video streaming by Ustream
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