Technology and programmatic are not the problem in digital media

25 Apr 2017  |  Jana Eisenstein 
Technology and programmatic are not the problem in digital media

Programmatic is becoming a dirty word but the issue is wider than technology, writes Jana Eisenstein as she shares her plans to renew digital media optimism

Like any sector undergoing the complex process of digitalisation, it seems the digital media business has some growing pains to deal with.

The current issues over brand safety, combined with P&G’s criticism of the “crappy media supply chain”, have created an environment where there is confusion between the quality of ingredients and the process of automation.

There is clearly room for improvement and that’s actually something technology can help with, but programmatic is not bad; programmatic is simply the automation of advertising media trading and delivery of advertising campaigns.

All industries are going through this process of technological evolution and new digital tools are constantly emerging with the aim of making advertising better, faster and more efficient. The most recent example in media is the launch of the ad trading platform developed by NASDAQ – NYIAX.

The truth is that any technology is only as good as the inputs that power it. If you put poor quality media into even the best programmatic solution, then the results will reflect that. Conversely, if premium quality media is fed into the system, then the results will be even better than those that the smartest advertisers, those that understand the power of digital advertising and programmatic, are already seeing.

Early adopters such as Unilever, Coca-Cola and Procter & Gamble, have already recognised the value of investing heavily in digital advertising and programmatic capabilities. However, it is not only the large advertisers who are benefiting from programmatic, but also smaller brands where programmatic has lowered the cost of entry for video advertising. For example, 75% of Sky AdSmart advertisers are new to TV or new to Sky Media.

Making these benefits work for all means putting more effort into raising the general understanding of the importance of content and quality of the media that fuels the technology. In other industries, such as financial trading, there are clear standards set and adhered to, but in the absence of agreed norms, standards and rules, media’s digitalisation has suffered from inconsistencies and uncertainty.

We need to agree industry-wide content standards and norms that support brand safety and transparency. Transparency and an open and collaborative ecosystem built on common standards and metrics allow all ecosystem participants to understand what is pertinent to them, whether they are advertisers, media owners or technology companies. Common standards of measurement across all platforms allow results to be compared. These metrics need to be defined, not by individual participants, but by the industry collectively and adhered to by all. They need to be configured to client needs and be scalable across the ecosystem.

We can measure advertising outcomes and KPIs using the metrics approved by the MRC or any other body, but we must all agree to use them and allow them to be tracked by third parties.

Finally, we need to be open and honest about the current limitations that we all deal with when it comes to digital video content, even with the rapid improvements we are making. The issues of brand safety are not new and occur in other media too and it is worth us looking at how other channels have alleviated such risks.

Linear television has been the key media channel for more than 50 years and arguably has a significant amount of experience in successfully managing brand safety across video content. In the UK, the TV industry has largely solved this difficult issue by using an agreed industry-wide content rating system, The Ofcom Broadcasting Code, and ensuring Clearcast ad copy approval to BCAP standards.

This has been strictly enforced and has been hugely successful, not just on TV, but also on broadcast VOD. These standards are adopted for digitally-distributed TV content and in fact Videology has integrated Clearcast compliance ratings and workflow into our core stack, enabling programmatic media management adhering to Clearcast compliance requirements. Similar systems are used in other markets for TV content rating and advertising management.

Ultimately, if we want our move to programmatic advertising to deliver against all expectations, then doing two things will help. Firstly, by allowing third-party tracking pixels across all media, including walled gardens, we will give advertisers confidence and empower them with unequivocal data showing that their spend is effective and reward those media owners who perform the best. This could happen almost immediately and P&G are demanding that it happens by the end of 2017.

Secondly, to achieve brand safety, we need industry-wide collaboration from content creators, distributors and technology platforms to advertisers and brands.

By looking at, and learning from, linear TV, we could create an optimal video content classification system used by the entire ecosystem. This will help us all better understand, and allow us to use, all available media more appropriately for our advertising needs. This is not an easy endeavour and will take time, but it’s a vital step to ensuring that not only are consumers happy with the content they view, but that brands are increasingly confident about their ability to ensure they remain within brand safe environments.

We need to come together as an industry to make all this happen. Because whatever we do, digital advertising and programmatic aren’t going away and that makes ensuring the quality of the raw ingredients that power them critically important for the future that is already here.

Jana Eisenstein is EMEA managing director at Videology


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