Window, Window In The Wall....

The ANA wants a window into the walled gardens. Fair enough. The gardens are so lush and inviting. Beautiful flora and elves and gnomes and miniature deer prancing about. Look! It's a hedgehog! Look! It's a highly targeted audience in a safe environment at reasonable CPMs! 

Who wouldn't want to see that? Because it's not just the beauty; there's the security issue. A lot of advertisers who have sent cash within the walls have been mugged in the process. That's because the auditing methods til now offered customers by Google and Facebook are positively Trumpian; the verification is based on the platforms saying: “Believe me”  -- even though the metrics upon which the inventory is sold have been shown to be….whaddya call it? ….false.

Facebook video metrics live in a world of alternative facts.



So, sure, by all means Platform Sultans, please open yourselves up to scrutiny, as the ANA's report implored you on Friday based on a recent membership survey:

In an era of concerns about transparency in the advertising supply chain, independent audits of the large digital enterprises by the MRC are very positive developments. Furthermore, it's clear from the ANA survey that there is overwhelming support from client-side marketers for independent audits by the Media Rating Council. The ANA applauds the recent announcements of Facebook and YouTube. We would appreciate both companies keeping the marketing community fully informed of their plans and timetables.

And then you will have achieved… very little.  

Yes, the platforms have been shown to sell on metrics that didn't bear up to scrutiny. And yes, the ANA's members have been screwed repeatedly by self-dealing and double-dealing by some agency “partners.” The lack of vigilance from advertisers who are great at pennywise procurement and pitifully dollar-foolish at monitoring has put the whole marketplace on edge. The ANA and the 4As are the Montagues and the Capulets, and it isn't because the kids are canoodling.

Yet this still misses the point. What is needed from the platforms is far more than a view of ad performance. What's needed is access to the user data. At present, buyers staple their cash to granular data sets of their own targets, and what they receive in return is a receipt for purchase and no performance data whatsoever. They may get some ROI, but they get no notion of who clicked, of attribution or of anything else to inform subsequent buys on the platforms or anywhere else.

It's like the farmers who can't buy seeds from Monsanto but only license them. They literally may not use the resulting plants and their seeds for future crops. Which is to say: perverse.

So, yeah, a window into fulfillment metrics is all well and good. But do not mistake that for transparency. Knowing you're not getting screwed is not the same thing as getting value. 

Mr. Zuckerberg, tear down that wall!

2 comments about "Window, Window In The Wall....".
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  1. Dean Fox from ScreenTwo LLC, March 20, 2017 at 2:42 p.m.

    Right on, Bob, but real transparency is not going to happen unless the 4As and ANA join forces and take a unified stand or until the unlikely event of a viable competitor to FB or Google arrives. Power corrupts, and in Google's and FB's case, absolute power corrupts absolutely. 

  2. John Grono from GAP Research, March 20, 2017 at 7:50 p.m.

    Bob, here downunder, an advertising client can opt to have their AD tagged by Nielsen, rather than relying on the tagged data for the page their ad appears on (or if the page isn't tagged, the hope-and-pray that a niche page is used by someone on the panel).

    Sure, it is still open to questions as to whether the person using the device actually saw the ad or did somethig as a result of seeing the ad.

    When the ad tag pings it also pings to Facebook and gets the users broad location (e.g. state), age, and gender if the user is logged in to Facebook.   So that makes the age/gender/location sample around half the population - not a bad sampling fraction.

    And yes, adding the tag costs.   It costs in inserting the tag, and the collection and collation of the data and results.

    Further, no single online publiser or content owner can report on an advertising campaign - just that proportion of the budget they receive.   So, who is in the position to monitor an ad campaign?   Yes, the advertiser.

    The usage is low but growing.   But I can't help but feel that the advertisers don't want to put their money where their mouth is.

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