Making Steps Towards Transparency: AANA/MMI Reveal Ad Tech Shortfalls

Making Steps Towards Transparency: AANA/MMI Reveal Ad Tech Shortfalls
B&T Magazine
Edited by B&T Magazine

On Wednesday 2nd March, AANA hosted a webinar to discuss the findings of their latest report into transparency in the Australian digital supply chain.

The report, by the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) and Method Media Intelligence (MMi) is a follow up from PWC/ISBA’s 2020 programmatic study which outlined the challenges of tracking spend across the supply path.

In Wednesday’s webinar, Dhailin Dhar, founder and CEO of MMI, presented the findings while AANA CEO John Broome [pictured] led a panel discussion.

The panel featured Gai Le Roy CEO of IAB, Chris Graham Head of Global Media Accountability & Sourcing at McDonald’s, Phil Pollock COO Programmatic, Social & Search at Omnicom Media Group and Amanda Nazar Group Manager, Digital Marketing at Telstra.

Introducing the findings, Broome made it clear that this was not a fully comprehensive study, but rather an indicative test skewed to a limited number of large brands.

In his opening, he asserted that the industry “has come along way since the issue of transparency was first raised.” He also firmly stated the case for an industry solution to the issues of transparency, with market-driven change rather than government intervention.

When presenting the findings, Shailin Dhar emphasised the fact that there was currently a high level of attention on the Australian market.

One of the core themes of the report was greater responsibility with regard to proxy choices. Broome described this issue as “systemic”, where the outsourcing of certain tasks due to resource constraints, skillset issues, or lack of knowledge was a barrier against supply chain transparency.

The report was, coincidentally, released at the same time as the ACCC’s six proposals in the aftermath of their ad tech inquiry. These proposals include:

  • Improving data portability
  • Increasing data separation mechanisms
  • Managing conflicts of interest
  •  Independently verifying DSP services
  •  Implementing a common transaction ID and,
  • Implementing a common user ID

The greatest challenges for brands are how they can effect change in how they, and their partners, handle data, and how they respond to the specific parts of the ACCC where they effect change the most.

The AANA/MMI report relied on three global brands, three agencies, five DSPs, and multiple direct publishers and audience buys. Its core focus was on data interoperability and supply chain transparency.

Ultimately, it found ten key barriers to unpacking supply path insights.

1) Supply transparency measurement was often not apparent on the buy side other than by proxy, which Dhar described as the “persistent delegation of supply path analysis to somebody upstream in the actual supply chain”

2) access to DSP logs not as smooth as they could have been, with a frequent disparity between contractual access companies have to access and the timeliness of this access

3) some DSP partners unwilling to support measurements or failed to make impression-level data available

4) comparisons between DSP logs and Ad-Saver logs remained a viable, but data-challenged approach to transparency

5) there was mixed familiarity with emergent data share measures like Google’s ADH, which is now a prerequisite for transparency

6) match rates between logs were in line with the ISBA/PWC 2020 Supply Chain Report, but this time included IVT scores

7) Wrapper technology made transparency for buyers difficult. A number of traffic verification approaches were not filtering all bad traffic or payments or were sometimes only done at the pre-bid level

8) There was evidence of four to five per cent incremental IVT, suggesting that a proportion of ISBA/PwC’s Unknown Delta could also be inclusive

9) Using programmatic buying bundles is inherently non-transparent. Dhar said, “choosing convenience will almost always hinder your data transparency”

10) There was a systematic disconnect between verification data and supply path workstreams

The recommendations as presented by Dhar were for brands to try and avoid extra layers of proxy and ensure that agencies owned data contracts themselves, or that their partners had direct access to the data.

Agencies were recommended to increase their familiarity with using verification data and merge it with deliverability data. They should also regularly collect DSP data to ensure tech partners are kept accountable.

Ultimately, he said, it was essential that supply path insights were placed in the mainstream of marketing work.

In the panel following the presentation, Broome identified McDonald’s as one of the participating brands.

Chris Graham, the brand’s Head of Global Media Accountability & Sourcing said that McDonald’s participated in the report as they were motivated by a “desire for continual improvement” which required accountability and independent reassurance for internal stakeholders.

The participants were clear on the importance of the report and the complexity of the issues surrounding transparency.

Phillip Potts, COO Programmatic, Social and Search for OMG said that “what the report has highlighted is the need to have this ongoing conversation,” particularly highlighting a desire for more discussion about transaction IDs.

Broome also raised the controversial question of whether brands should put clauses around data access into agreements with supply chain partners.

Graham was somewhat hesitant. While “access to that information will help us make better decisions,” he acknowledged that there were sometimes occasions where it was not commercially feasible.

Amanda Nazar of Telstra took a similar line. She said that brands needed to weigh up what brands can do with the data and whether it made sense to have it in the contract.

One fear was that “sometimes having something in a contract can force a hand,” rather than encouraging genuine collaboration.”

The full report is available to access now.

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