Why We Don’t Trust Digital Like The Other Channels: AMAA CEO

Why We Don’t Trust Digital Like The Other Channels: AMAA CEO

The Audited Media Association of Australia (AMAA) recently released research showing many digital mediums are way down on the ladder when it comes to marketers and agencies trust, mobile and programmatic in particular. In this opinion piece, Josanne Ryan, CEO of the AMAA, argues why that’s the case and what we can do about as an industry.

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How well do you trust your new friends? Probably not as well as the ones you’ve known for a long time – the tried and true. In business, where there’s big money and fast deadlines involved, we take measures to build trust more quickly. Agreed terms around openness and accountability underpin healthy business relationships just as much as they do personal ones.

Josanne Ryan, AMAA

Josanne Ryan, AMAA

The media industry in particular has built strong frameworks designed to quickly build trust between media owners, agencies and advertisers. However, recent AMAA research shows our industry has allowed a trust deficit to emerge with its newest relationship, digital.

No one’s to blame, the pace of change that digital has brought to the media landscape has left even the most tech-savvy gasping to keep up. Changes are routinely occurring faster than trust can be laid down. However, with our industry’s proud reputation for innovation, are we really content to settle for a level of trust in digital that’s just OK? Especially as digital attracts an ever-increasing focus from agencies and advertisers.

The AMAA recently conducted its first Media Channel Trust Report, measuring agencies’ and marketers’ trust towards the channels available in Australia’s media ecosystem. The consensus was clear; digital needs to up its trust game. Interestingly, trust ranking of media channels differed between agencies and marketers, but seven in ten agreed the digital ad-trading ecosystem is not as transparent, accountable and trustworthy as it should be.

The report looked at channel trust levels across three key metrics:

  • Channel Data: Is the channel safe, transparent and are the ads verified?
  • Audience Data: Does the channel provide transparent and accountable measurement of reach, insights and consumer behaviour?
  • ROI Data: Is the impact of the advertising measurable?

When it comes to channel data, print and TV score the highest levels of trust with agencies and marketers.

Interestingly, print rated highest with marketers for being a safe, transparent and verified channel. Ranking lowest was programmatic, digital’s most dynamic new frontier. While programmatic (and digital in general) has introduced strong new standards of measurement around audience data and ROI, our research shows these advances have come with difficulties other channels no longer experience – trust in the safety and transparency of the medium itself.

When asked which channel was most in need of oversight to ensure adoption of best practice to build trust and confidence, agencies and advertisers overwhelmingly pointed to digital.

With digital starting to take the lion’s share of advertising spend, can the advertising and media industry at large, afford to have ongoing doubts and unanswered questions about its newest and largest relationship? It’s arguable that collective doubt around such a major channel will drag down net trust across the entire media-trading ecosystem.

Having been at the forefront of building transparency and accountability for over 80 years, the AMAA sees the Media Channel Trust Report as part of an important conversation around how to further build trust between digital publishers, agencies and advertisers in our market. Industry collaboration has never been more needed to establish best practice governance frameworks to deliver accountability and establish trust in the complex digital ad-trading ecosystem.

Overseas markets like the US and UK have started down the path to enhanced trust and accountability with frameworks that light the way for the Australian media industry. In all approaches, the contribution of independent auditing bodies has been essential, as has their collaboration.

Warren Buffett famously once said:

Trust is like the air we breath: When it’s present, nobody really notices. When it’s absent, everybody notices.

The trust our industry currently enjoys has taken years to build, and shouldn’t be surrendered lightly.