Publishers Tout Transparency, Viewability, Brand Safety

After a stark warning from one of the world’s biggest advertisers that it will no longer accept the status quo in digital advertising, publishers are rushing to burnish their credentials and illustrate how premium sites can help advertisers avoid some of the most common pitfalls.

Last month, Procter & Gamble’s chief brand officer Marc Pritchard told the audience at a conference hosted by the Interactive Advertising Bureau that the consumer-packaged goods behemoth will no longer waste ad dollars on substandard digital media. That includes agencies, platforms or technology firms that don’t comply with industry standards in areas such as brand safety and viewability.

The members of digital publishing trade body Digital Content Next assured Pritchard it is on board with his demand for greater transparency and accountability.

In an open letter sent by DCN CEO Jason Kint to Pritchard, who is also chairman of the Association of National Advertisers, the DCN outlines a series of measures already taken by its members to meet these demands.



The letter agrees that “shocking amounts” of ad dollars have been going to fraudulent parties, including bots, and also recognizes that many online media companies have failed to comply with the Media Rating Council’s recommendations for ensuring viewability, including auditing by third parties.

Additionally, the DCN notes opaque supply chains create hidden incentives for some parties to engage in inefficient practices, wasting advertiser’s money.

Finally, it points out the automation of ad buying via programmatic technologies has, in some cases, resulted in ads being delivered in the wrong context, or in environments that are unsafe for brands.

In response, the publishers argue that sticking to premium sites like theirs can help avoid many of these problems highlighted by Pritchard.

The DCN notes its members have a rate of bot traffic under 3%, and have already instituted transparent business practices so advertising clients know exactly what their ad dollars are buying.

Turning to viewability, the DCN supports verification by third parties with MRC accreditation. It points out that members have gone considerably beyond the MRC standards for ensuring viewability

In terms of brand safety, the DCN pointed to a recent study by comScore, “The Halo Effect,” showing how brands benefited from adjacency to their trusted content.

DCN and dozens of its members recently launched a premium private marketplace called TrustX, which is intended to enable advertisers to buy campaigns meeting all these conditions programmatically.

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