Programmatic Transparency To Remain The Top Issue In 2018

Programmatic has an obvious benefit. It allows brands to automate the process of data-driven campaigns that reach the right audience at scale. It has an obvious drawback too, however -- transparency.

Research from new agency Truth claims that four in five -- or 79% -- of marketers are concerned about transparency, with just one in seven -- or 14% -- claiming to have no such concerns.

Clearly, transparency issues are not going away, although one must remember Truth has a dog in this proverbial fight. It's a new agency aiming to end the disconnect between agencies and brands around transparency. It makes its name by highlighting these issues, and so the finding was not chanced upon -- it was the point of commissioning the research.  It's also worth noting that just 100 marketers were surveyed, although the bar was set high at big brands with revenues above $50m a year.

However, having said that, it doesn't mean the finding is not true. Transparency was arguably the key issue for brands in 2017. What the research shows us is that four in five are concerned by it and three in four, 77%, believe "a cleaner supply chain" would help them run save time and money. Perhaps most interestingly, 70% of marketers surveyed claimed to be making steps to bring more transparency to their digital marketing arrangements. 

Truth is interesting because it is the first agency to base itself on using blockchain technology to provide a cookie crumb trail for where a brand's budget goes. Using this, the theory goes, a company can see exactly how much money goes into the funnel -- where it leaks out to suppliers -- and how much ends up resulting in actual advertising. 

When I talked with the founders at the end of last year, they suggested a very high proportion of budget goes into trading desk fees and then a host of tech middlemen before an ad gets anywhere near being seen by a human being. I'm not so sure it is usually as high a proportion as they claimed, but they certainly believe the majority of the ad budget is not actually seen by the brand's desired audience. 

So, eight in ten marketers being concerned about transparency and seven in ten saying they are already making steps to bring more transparency to their ad supply chain highlights a massive trend for 2018. 

Transparency had been talked about for years before peaking in 2017, and it would appear to going nowhere. This survey was small, but there are some big brands in there, such as TSB Bank, Expedia and SAS.

There is momentum behind this movement for a better vision of where the budget goes. Transparency will continue to be the watchword for 2018, just as much as it was for 2017.

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