IAS Innovation Summit: Programmatic Transparency Challenges

12/09 By IAS team

At the IAS Innovation Summit we wanted to tackle the leading programmatic advertising challenges faced by the industry. So it’s only natural that we touch on one subject that continues to present a challenge – transparency. We assembled experts from across the industry that were perfectly placed to tackle this often grey area of programmatic advertising. The conversation was led by Tony Marlow, CMO at Integral Ad Science, and he was joined by Phil Smith, Director General at ISBA, Richard Reeves, Managing Director at AOP, and Will Luttrell, CEO at Amino Payments.  

“Efficiency is top of mind more than ever before,” says IAS CMO Tony Marlow. And a large part of efficiency is transparency. But what does transparency mean? To many in the digital advertising industry, it can have different connotations. Phil Smith kicked off the session by stating that, “transparency is needed when you don’t have trust.” In his view, the real issue at play is the misalignment of interests in the programmatic supply chain, especially when so many players are taking part. 

Why is transparency important?

Richard Reeves’ take on transparency was that it is simply, “about the right to audit and inspect your own supply chain.” Reeves went on to say that the important thing is that there’s no suggestion that nefarious practices are taking place, but the fact that programmatic has grown so exponentially means that we need more insight into the process in order to keep up with the growth and ensure streamlined and productive supply chains.

From here, Will Luttrell brought up the importance of having total visibility into fees. Phil Smith, quoting the ISBA programmatic transparency research, stated that it was incredibly difficult to achieve this.  “The supply chain as it currently exists isn’t easy to audit…. but when the buyer and the seller both want to exchange this data, then the situation needs to change,” highlighted Smith.

So where does responsibility lie? There’s no doubt our panel agreed on a collective destiny in this case. This isn’t a solo, it’s an ensemble. The programmatic advertising industry should act as a think-tank for government and industry bodies, providing evidence and best practice in order to get the most effective and standardised solutions. 

Where do we go from here?

So what steps needs to happen to address what Phil called “a systemic lack of transparency?” Firstly, the panel agreed, there needs to be standardisation. Standardisation of data and how it’s audited and stored. Secondly, that there must be collaboration at every stage. Collaboration at every turn, from sharing data points to naming conventions. “Every party in the waterfall needs to be comfy,” highlighted Richard Reeve. And as Will Luttrell pointed out, “whatever step is taken, it must be easy, and always on, so brands can see what’s happening transparently, in real time.”

An aspiration? Perhaps not. Watch the whole session and more from our IAS Innovation Summit here:

Learn more about how IAS is working to provide Total Visibility into programmatic