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Linus Gregoriadis
Linus Gregoriadis 12 January 2018

Lack of consistent measurement plagues programmatic industry – new research

The lack of consistent metrics and measurement has emerged as the greatest challenge for advertisers carrying out programmatic advertising, according to new research published this week by London Research and TRUTH.

The State of Programmatic Advertising report has found that 49% of companies surveyed regard this inconsistency as one of their top three concerns, ahead of lack of agency transparency (42%) and lack of visibility on third parties (39%).

What are your greatest concerns about programmatic advertising

The report comes at a time when brands such as Procter & Gamble are seeking solutions to the well documented problems afflicting digital advertising, including a single viewability standard to help restore confidence in measurement.

The study by London Research (Digital Doughnut’s sister company), has also found that almost two-thirds of advertisers (64%) are prioritising brand safety, and more than half (56%) agree they are working to eliminate ad fraud. Almost half of respondents (45%) indicated that they have already adopted some form of third-party accredited measurement verification.

According to Mibbie Majors, media planning manager at SAS and one of six senior client-side marketers interviewed for the report: “The more we ask suppliers to uphold the IAB standards, the better it will be for everyone … The IAB is a good base, but it’s up to the industry to put more stakes in the ground. Big brands are doing a great job pushing this on behalf of everyone. But we’re still trying to get to the point of maturity that TV is at.”

In January 2017, Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer for Procter & Gamble (P&G), the world’s biggest advertiser, gave the digital marketing industry what he described as ‘a wake-up call’ to clean up a supply chain he deemed ‘murky, non-transparent and even fraudulent’.

He has said that he is committed to addressing the lack of consistent measurement to judge the performance of programmatically-delivered advertising across different media and platforms.

Another marketer quoted in the report, Emma Jenkins, formerly CMO at giffgaff and Sofa.com, said she backed Pritchard’s initiative around standards, saying it is making a huge difference to the industry. “When a major player stands up and says ‘enough’, other brands will stand up as well. P&G does a lot of analysis so they know what they’re talking about.”

But she also warned that focusing too much on standards can be dangerous. “Standards are really important. When you’re operating at scale, they help set expectations. But you’ve also got to make sure they don’t affect the advertising itself. Success for me isn’t getting my ads out there to meet industry standards. Real success is winning hearts and minds, but when you get real creativity it can bang its head against standards. Lots of brands have the hunger for innovation, so the challenge is to set standards for pricing and trading and viewability, but not stymie creativity in the process.”

Rory Paterson Global head of programmatic and martech, Expedia, said there is still a ‘lot of work to do’ on standardisation of metrics, but brands can protect themselves by ensuring KPIs are tied closely with their organisation’s objectives.

“The way we measure gives us comfort that we’re doing the right thing. We measure everything on a dynamic, incremental return-on-ad spend basis.”

He added: “If you can’t correlate activities to a tangible, preferably financial, output, there will be valid concerns about investments. We take some comfort in the fact that we are naturally optimising away from fraudulent inventory and traffic as a result of our conversion-based KPIs, while applying technology and human analysis to both fraud and brand safety.”

The report is based on interviews with senior marketers at well-known brands, and a global survey of 102 senior executives with responsibility for ad buying at large companies with annual revenues of at least $50 million a year.

TRUTH, which was launched in November 2017, utilises blockchain smart contract technology to provide 100% transparency in the media supply chain.

The full State of Programmatic Advertising report is available for download from the TRUTH website.

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