How do we boost transparency in digital advertising?

IAB UK Mobile Steering GroupIt’s no secret that the digital advertising supply chain is a complex and often invisible process. It involves a number of intermediary players which, paired with a lack of transparency in some parts of the industry, has given rise to the term ‘tech tax’ and characterised ad tech as a somewhat shady sector. In order to address this, increasing transparency and boosting understanding of the digital supply chain is essential.

To equip advertisers with the right knowledge, IAB UK launched its Transparency FAQs at the start of the year; a set of questions for buyers to ask that help them understand the role intermediaries play and decipher where value is being added across the supply chain – and where it isn’t. While not a silver bullet, it’s a useful and much-needed step forward when it comes to addressing issues of ad tech opacity and providing advertisers and agencies with necessary insight.

But what more can be done and what are the biggest challenges when it comes to boosting digital transparency for both advertisers and consumers? From the supply chain to consumers’ data, we ask members of IAB UK’s Mobile Steering Group Committee for their views on industry transparency.

We need transparency in every element of the supply chain
Ruth Manielevitch, VP of global business development at Taptica

Transparency is crucial to delivering sustainable digital advertising, particularly when media supply chains are increasingly complex. We need transparency in every element of the supply chain – from where the ads are placed, to how data is used, to where the budgets are spent – in order to maintain trust between brands and agencies, and between consumers and brands. Lack of transparency will create distrust and enable fraud to flourish, which costs the industry millions every day.

The mobile industry has had challenges with fraud and opaque supply chains. The good news is that the industry has recognised the issues and are taking steps to fix them – for example, by signing up to the IAB Gold Standard, Ads.txt etc. The industry is now more transparent than ever, but there is still some work to be done to ensure we all understand the complete picture.

Commit to explicit, informed, and unambiguous user choice
Thomas Pasquet, CEO & co-founder of Ogury

Transparency in our industry is essential. Any responsible technology leader must work towards building an ecosystem rooted in consumer trust. Users are more informed than ever before about their privacy rights and demand clarity from the organisations that handle their data. However, acting with transparency and integrity over the ways in which their data is collected, used and stored, there is an opportunity to both allay consumer privacy concerns and increase mobile engagement. This value exchange between organisations and users leads to business success.

We need to demand that internal stakeholders place greater emphasis on a commitment to working exclusively with consented data – and act with integrity and transparency with consumers over its creation and use. That will set businesses up for success in the future.

To address fears, we can commit to explicit, informed, and unambiguous user choice; from opting-in to personalised marketing, to exercising their right to be forgotten. We must build consumer trust by offering true value exchange for data.

Transparency is needed to prove digital is a viable investment
Lorna White, digital associate director at MediaCom

Transparency is really important for the industry. Where we have faced so many challenges with the speedy growth of time spent on digital platforms, advertising money follows. With such rapid growth, we’ve seen some of the market giving the industry a bad name and causing mistrust with advertisers who want to understand where their money is actually going. If we want to prove digital is a viable investment, we need to be transparent.

The biggest issues are the cost / benefit payoff. When you deliver full cost and delivery disclosure, the advertiser ultimately ends up paying more for the benefit of seeing where their money is going. Transparency means an advertiser can see breakdown of media, tech and mark up, however this “luxury” comes at price. Therefore, it becomes a decision about whether the cost is worthwhile. Question is – if you’re getting the right outcome, does it matter where it’s going?

If we have nothing to hide, why not deliver transparency as standard? We need to make sure we’re striving to deliver the best quality advertising to ultimately ensure the best experience for the consumer and to protect mobile advertising.