That's the finding of research from Infectious Media, which obviously has a proverbial dog in this fight, -- but the findings certainly back up the feedback I've been getting from ISBA, the organisation which represents advertisers. Interestingly, however, the concerns raised in today's research are a little more granular than one usually finds. Rather than citing concerns about data and brand safety, which usually feature high in presentations at conferences, this research shows they are only an issue for one in ten and a quarter of brands, respectively.
No -- the big issue is transparency over financials, cited by two in three marketers as the biggest cause for concern. Put very simply, with all the technology, ad exchanges, supply-side and demand-side platforms as well as tech vendors, marketers aren't too sure how many middlemen they are paying and how much the media they were after in the first place is actually costing them. Next in importance come the aforementioned issues, as just over or just under half of marketers report not fully understanding the ecosystem, not knowing how to measure it and not truly trusting their agencies.
It's an odd situation, then, that I don't think you have in any other industry. Imagine a product or service which two in three felt they might be ripped off by and half didn't really trust the person providing the service and wasn't sure they'd be able to measure ROI, even if they did purchase it. Yet here we are in digital marketing with all these concerns, yet two in three are still planning to spend more on programmatic in the next six to twelve months.
So what lies behind marketers putting their budgets into an area they're not sure they can fully trust nor understand? Well, the message of what programmatic can deliver appears to be well received. The most popular reason, cited by three in four marketers, is the ability to personalise messages to different audiences, and for two in three, receiving new insights and applying them to CRM data. The extension into programmatic television and the promise of connecting data gleaned from different devices is also a big draw for half of marketers.
So, to sum the situation up, marketers know there is a big opportunity there and are willing to put more budget into automated campaigns even though they're not sure they won't get ripped off by an agency they may not trust fully.
So far the IAB has worked on a viewability metric for display and announced a promising start to its scheme to deliver brand safety online, and further announcements are due in March on combating fraud.
Is anyone else out there who is thinking this latest research reveals a problem that is a lot closer to home? The IAB can get people together to work on combating fraud and to provide a framework for advertisers to be viewable by humans in brand-safe environments, but it can't make advertisers trust their agencies.
Sometimes it can be a little too easy to focus on outside problems and not look at the biggest obstacles right in front of us.
The challenge for agencies is transparency. That's what advertisers crave, because only transparency can provide a better insight into how the process works and how it can be measured, alongside a look at who was paid what to get a campaign out there.
It's trust and transparency that need to be fixed ahead of anything else.