A Digital Media 'Manifesto'

One of the key projects I've been working on this year has been The Drum Digital Trading Awards program. The aim has been to recognise those companies that provide clarity and transparency in the digital display trading ecosystem.

It's been a hugely interesting project, and one that has provoked a fair amount of controversy. Various links in the buying chain have pointed at each other as the problem area whilst other individuals have said that the industry had no need for an introspective look at itself.

As part of the process, I got together with some of my fellow judges to put together a "manifesto" that looked at the areas which the industry needed to address to continue to thrive, and I thought I'd share those with you this week.

Honesty – As we move into a fully programmatic world, we risk excelling at buying and selling the wrong kind of impressions. We need a set of principles and guidelines that will instill trust in advertisers. The industry needs honest digital media. We've seen the implementation of the DTSG but that should only be seen as the start of the process.

Simplicity – Many have argued that the digital advertising ecosystem has been unnecessarily over-complicated. As Sue Hunt, UK MD of Improve Digital, says: “Technology brings complexity, but that shouldn't inform trading strategy.”

Transparency – Put simply, transparency is essential to the growth of the market. “The industry will grow much faster if advertisers feel confident and comfortable with its practices”, says Rob Dreblow of The World Federation of Advertisers.

Convergence – It has become apparent that it’s a necessity for convergence to happen in the space in order to foster innovation. “There are too many mouths at the table, pushing CPM prices up to where the return is even further diluted,” according to Nicky McShane of “Ease of trading will only make the space grow faster.”

Collaboration – It will be key for growth that we work together with creative agencies and established media. Lee Baker of The First Space told me: “We succeed better together. Work with the exciting businesses in the area to create a collaborative economy. Tear up the Lumascape slide and take the time to understand who the partners are that can help you. It’s an exciting and rewarding time for the brave and innovative publisher.”

New Skill sets - Still in the spirit of collaboration, digital trading should look to other sectors such as finance to enable us to bring more diversity into the trading environment. Melina Jacavou, CEO of Propel, suggested that “the industry needs to understand the scope of its talent pool and embrace different skill sets."

Matured Metrics – As the industry matures, many believe that we need a move towards a much more sophisticated approach to measurement. Last click is not a reliable guide to performance. As Jo Sampson of Essence points out: “There are a variety of ways we can harness technology to show clients effectiveness such as cross media econometrics and attribution.”

A Focus on Value – Lastly, and this is something I've been talking about for a long time, the digital trading industry needs to address its tactics in the way it promotes itself. There are a lot of positive stories out there which don’t get reported or highlighted. The industry is delivering one hell of a lot of value for advertisers so let’s not always focus on what needs to change. As Sacha Bunatyan of Amnet says: “We are our own worst enemy in this regard.”

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