To Secure Transparency, Garden Owners Should Share Data

P&G’s Marc Pritchard made an excellent argument at the IAB conference recently, saying on the media side, we need independent, third-party measurement standards and need to fight against fraud. We agree, but would suggest what he asks for is not enough.

The Internet and especially social networks have evolved to be walled gardens, where there is not a whole lot of transparency. To help resolve this, the garden owners should start sharing their data.

Yes, their data is different, making it hard for brands to consolidate, standardize and get a comprehensive view of their social ROI. We need third parties to obtain the data on behalf of the brands from multiple sources, standardize and deliver it in an actionable format.



Second, these third parties need to measure not just cause, but effect as well.

While viewability is a good place to start, it doesn’t go far enough. Brands need to understand what viewability contributes to their branding campaign. What business results did it achieve? Sales is the ultimate goal, but in most cases user data on sales doesn’t scale or is not timely or both.

For example, in an industry like Auto, you can’t measure purchase conversion in the next week, especially when you’re running a branding campaign. Even for CPG, where more sales data is available, short term sales promotions can cloud another branding campaign’s outcome. So what does the brand marketer do? She needs a mid-funnel metric that measures the effect of all that viewability.

Among all walled gardens, social networks have the data to provide such a metric — affinity growth among the audience targeted toward the brand. This serves as a scalable and timely metric that can be used to measure mid-funnel conversion for any branding campaign regardless of whether the product is bought online or retail - now - or six months later.

However, what constitutes affinity in each network is different thus requiring a 3rd party again to normalize the definition and provide a standard and actionable metric to the brand marketer.

Third, brands should demand transparency and independence from those third-party measurements, so they don’t trade one problem for another. In particular, if the measurer has a media-buying business on the side or takes a position on inventory, they have a clear conflict of interest and thus, can never be independent.

Fourth, the publishers in these gardens that make their inventory available should supply additional contextual information that helps the brand qualify the impressions for their campaign. While efforts like TAG-certification protects against outright fraud, they don’t protect against waste which we believe is a much bigger problem to solve.

Even for video impressions from premium publishers that carry some of the highest CPMs, the contextual information available is usually pretty slim – often just the URL of the publisher and a very board IAB category, not what is in the video. Would you rather have your CoverGirl ad placed on a Katy Perry YouTube video or any random video under Music & Entertainment category? Having rich contextual data help brands get much better efficacy from their placement, which helps everyone in the ecosystem.

The above four measures together can make a happy place, with walled gardens protecting their rich soil while brands enjoying the fruits of their labor. Let the walled gardens flourish by sharing their fruits.

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