DigiTrust Empowers Publishers To Answer Advertiser Challenges

In the past few weeks, publishers have received a slap on the wrist and a punch in the gut. First, Procter & Gamble CMO Mark Pritchard delivered a harsh rebuke to the low quality, low visibility, and high complexity of the  digital advertising market at the recent Interactive Advertising Bureau Leadership conference. With a promise to take business elsewhere if partners don’t improve by the end of 2017, Pritchard said, “Getting to a clean, productive media supply chain is the level playing field we all want and need.”

Agency trading desks and ad-tech vendors might be on the front lines, but publishers  stand to lose the most if premium advertisers walk away from the channel, since brand advertising makes up the majority of their income.

Then, Facebook announced that it not only blew its fourth quarter goals out of the water, it’s now earning more than $20 per user per month.

Advertisers are throwing money at Facebook, while publishers fight it out against one another for the leftovers. What’s more, publishers rely heavily on Facebook’s ecosystem for traffic and revenue, at the risk of ceding their connection with advertisers completely to platforms like Facebook, Google and Amazon, where media buying is easy and scalable.



Realistically, publishers must build a series of stairs that can lift them out of their predicament. The right way to safety is to put the pieces in place to connect more transparently to advertisers, and to make it easy for advertisers to buy premium media at scale.

The most obvious way to encourage quality and scale is with common standards that can allow publishers to operate more like Facebook: easy for advertisers to buy, hard(er) for fraudsters to game.

DigiTrust is a great example of a publisher-friendly technology standard that could help everyone in the ecosystem. A nonprofit, industrywide collaboration of companies, DigiTrust is focused on enabling a shared first-party ID that would allow everyone in the digital advertising supply chain to sync instantly. In addition to obvious benefits like decreased page-load times and more programmatic bids, a shared ID makes it possible for publishers to finally have high match rates on audience data with advertisers, enabling the publisher ecosystem to rival Facebook in data stability and scale.

DigiTrust is timed well to help publishers take even better advantage of programmatic advertising as it transitions from header bidding to server-side header bidding. DigiTrust and server-side header bidding enable publishers to more easily sync their data management platforms with demand channels, giving them much more control over audience-targeted media buying.  It would also allow for reporting to have fewer discrepancies, improving the current make-good situation, which is costly for publishers.

Advertisers have previously relied on insanely complex media buying, almost random audience forecasting, and third-party reporting to buy audiences on premium publisher sites in the past (another reason they love Facebook.) With DigiTrust, these issues can be resolved. Publishers could accurately forecast, deliver and report, which benefits advertisers. They could also accurately price and optimize, which benefits their own bottom line.

P&G is handing down mandates for specific standards such as MRC viewability, but publishers need to also evaluate which standards help their own causes, and their relationship with advertisers. Until now, many requirements handed down benefited only advertisers, or provided vendors with revenue growth, leaving publishers to scramble. DigiTrust is different. It’s actually a win-win for publishers. It will ease advertiser frustration while helping publishers gain footing against walled-garden competitors.

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