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  • Writer's pictureTPA Digital

Five Ways To Action Programmatic Transparency Today

by Wayne Blodwell, Founder and CEO at TPA Digital

If you have reached this page, it’s highly likely that you have concerns with the level of programmatic transparency in your advertising. You’re not alone. Some will claim that ‘transparency means different things to different people’, it doesn’t. It is either completely transparent or it isn’t.

A recent study from ISBA and PWC highlighted that on average, 51% of media spend reaches the publisher. Unfortunately, many advertisers do not understand what parties make up the other 49% and the value added by them. Transparency in programmatic is achieved when advertisers understand what their supply path looks like and the value each component adds.

Programmatic may appear complicated but implementing transparency doesn’t need to be. Our five points outline practical steps to achieve transparency in programmatic. The best part is that you can action these today.

1 – Understand your contractual rights and improve them

A lot of back and forth on transparency between advertisers and their agencies/partners go back to what is written into their master service agreement or contract. This fact is a key barrier to implementing transparency for advertisers.

Get a good understanding of what cost and data disclosure looks like in the existing contract. If required, advertisers can evolve their existing contracts for programmatic services by using addendums. Furthermore, ensure that where the partner owns multiple entities, they are all captured and referenced throughout the contract. This also applies to any new entities created.

This exercise will prove incredibly valuable long term as it defines the level of transparency required and secures a commitment from your partners to deliver it.

2 – Get Demand-Side Platform logins

Agencies and advertiser partners will use Demand-Side Platforms (DSPs) to buy their programmatically enabled advertising. Gaining access to these will allow you to see how costs are being applied in the platform. These costs should match what is disclosed in your media plans.

Gaining access is just the first step in this recommendation. In addition, you should also become familiar with the Demand Side Platform reporting interfaces. Most DSP user interfaces will not display all cost information required by an advertiser without pulling reports. We recommend comparing spend against performance. Media investment should be justified by strong performance.

This level of access is table stakes to large advertisers in 2020.

3 – Get access to invoices and ensure that costs are disclosed on media plans

Matching the plan to the billed financial process is unusually difficult. Despite this, you should ensure that all costs are disclosed on your media plans. Service fees, tech costs, media costs and data costs should all be present with every piece of technology and service broken out in detail.

You can check what is being planned, and ensure that it matches what is being paid to providers, by ensuring that you have access to the associated invoices for these costs. This offers little room for middle layers to obfuscate or make margins that are not disclosed in the contract.

4 – Review every 6-12 months

The programmatic market continually changes as new mediums and processes appear. Therefore, we highly recommend implementing a review process every 6-12 months that interrogates the state of transparency and ensures best practice.

5 – Collaborate with your partners

Finally, work alongside your partners. The best commercial partnerships that fuel trust, are centred around disclosure. Programmatic Transparency should not be a finger-pointing exercise designed to trip partners up. Keep this in mind to achieve the best levels of transparency.

You can get you started with programmatic transparency by actioning these five points today. Beyond these, there are more advanced areas to look at such as ad exchange fees, log-level data analysis, buyers becoming sellers and timesheet analysis. We welcome any advertiser seeking impartial advice on implementing transparency in programmatic. Contact us to find out how our experts can partner with your business.

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