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When did it become okay to mark our own homework?


Seller“is a column written by the seller side of the digital media community.

Today’s column is written by Greg Garunov, Executive Vice President of Business and Strategic Development at Beautiful.

Once upon a time there were brands and agencies that railed against walled gardens, and for good reason.

They didn’t want Big Tech to say, “Trust us, your ads were visible, served to your right audience without fraud, and performed very well.” “

Their suspicions were found to be correct and their outrage was justified. In 2016, social media and content marketing company Crowd Siren accused Facebook of inflating video metrics and lying about it. Crowd Siren filed a complaint, and after an exhaustive review of around 80,000 pages of internal documents, Facebook admitted to overestimating the time users spent watching videos by 60 to 80 percent. Crowd Siren put the figure at 900%.

Ad Buyers demanded independent verification by third parties such as DoubleVerify, Nielsen, and Integral Ad Science. The result has been the emergence of a robust measurement industry. Last summer, The IAS reported a rate of 55% year-over-year revenue increase, grossing $ 75.1 million. DoubleVerify earned $ 244 million in 2020, up 34% from 2019.

But recent acquisitions, like that of IAS purchase from CTV’s ad server and analytics firm Publica for $ 220 million, are starting to muddy the waters. When did it become acceptable for ad technology providers to grade their own homework?

Misaligned incentives

My friend Zach Kubin, vice president of sales in Adelaide, summed up the problem well in a recent Post on LinkedIn: “, Is he being yelled at by a salesperson who is just trying to reach his quota? Or what could possibly go wrong when a large public company that is accountable to its shareholders begins to check its own duties? “

When buyers hand over their media budgets and say, “Here, do your thing,” they don’t necessarily realize how well the backend mechanics are working to meet the publisher’s or the technology platform’s goals. True, the seller promises to put the buyer’s interests first, but SOEs are forced to put the interests of their shareholders first – and that means maximizing their own income.

This is precisely why media buyers rely on measurement companies to protect them. The question is: can buyers still be confident that the media ecosystem is delivering on its promises?

Automation has led to opacity

Advertisers and their agencies have always made sure that their ads serve as intended and that buyers are able to maximize the business results they want.

But in the early days of digital advertising, ad measurement was limited and largely manual. Buyers scoured media plans line by line to find the best performing placements, then asked the publisher or tech platform to allocate more dollars to those placements.

Automation was urgent. But with it came opacity.

Over the past 20 years, the industry has fallen in love with the notion of “secret sauce”. Each publisher or media platform selling advertising space has its own unique algorithm that governs the operation of its site. Their goal, of course, is to maximize revenue per ad served.

To complicate matters further, many salespeople aren’t quite sure how their business’s backend mechanisms work – maybe a hard pill to swallow, but it’s true – and it makes a frank conversation about how nearly impossible. a campaign will be delivered.

Take into account lessons from other sectors

In 2008, we saw the dangers of overly comfortable relationships. At issue: Banks paid rating agencies to rate their complex subprime mortgage obligations. Unsurprisingly, most of them received AAA ratings, prompting institutional investors such as public pension funds invest in them.

In the end, this unhealthy dynamic brought the economy to its knees. Many states continue to struggle to meet their retirement obligations.

While the digital advertising market represents only a fraction of the total economy, there are still trillions of dollars at stake – not to mention the confidence advertisers have in the impartiality of measurement by. some thirds.

Advertisers considered it dangerous and undesirable when Walled Gardens assessed their own homework. There is no reason not to apply the same standard to other technology providers today.

Follow Sightly (@SightlyHQ) and AdExchanger (@Ads changer) on Twitter.

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