Ad fraud and bad data puts ITV off a programmatic future

04 Nov 2014  |  David Pidgeon 
Ad fraud and bad data puts ITV off a programmatic future

Left to right: Simon Daglish, Lewis Sherlock and Nigel Walley at Media Playground.

Simon Daglish, the group commercial director of ITV, has said that ad fraud and poor quality audience data are factors that will hold TV back from being traded in the same programmatic way as video-on-demand.

After recent reports that around half of all online ads served programmatically are viewed by 'fraud bots' rather than real people - to the cost of around $1bn in the US ad market - Daglish said the time is not right for UK broadcasters to embrace one of the most hyped developments in online advertising.

"It's hard to believe that this fraud is not endemic is the UK," Daglish said during a debate at MediaTel's Media Playground on Monday (3 November). "It does not give confidence to us, at ITV - nor should it give confidence to anyone in the TV industry."

Daglish also said audience data that is not directly sourced by either the media or brand owner should not have anything to do with the planning and buying across a business worth more than £3.5 billion.

"Data is great," he said, "but its accuracy and authenticity is so challenged at the moment it's got a big struggle to get to the top table. So it's not whether programmatic will be part of [TV trading] - I'm sure it will in the future - it's just not ready yet."

Daglish also defended the current trading system, CARIA, and said television was already automated as much as it needs to be.

"Programmatic buying already exists in TV," Daglish said. "In fact it has done for some ten years. Every day at ITV the CARIA system connects agencies to ITV sales systems delivering an automated approvals system that plugs straight into our air time.

"It would be wholly wrong to believe that TV has not been behind this pioneering movement, in fact TV was an early adopter."

Daglish's comments echo those of Thinkbox's Lindsey Clay who only last week said that a fully programmatic future for UK television is a long way off.

Writing for MediaTel-Newsline, Clay said: "Why would TV, the most enjoyed and effective advertising, embrace the algorithmic practices of online display, which is the least trusted and liked form of advertising around currently?

"TV is already automated as much as it needs to be; it won't be in a position technologically to be programmatically bought any time soon; it is regulated in a way which makes programmatic buying very complicated; and the way it is traded is far more transparent and trustworthy for the people whose money is being spent: the advertisers.

"TV will certainly get with the programmatic...to some extent at some point, but there are plenty of hurdles to clear before then."

However, Lewis Sherlock, director of strategic planning at AOL-owned Adap.tv, said that overlaying packaged audience and profiling data to lower-cost inventory - particularly for TV shows often missed entirely by the BARB panel - has the power to increase its value.

Citing a pilot about to get under way in Australia, Sherlock argued that quieter dayparts in the broadcasting schedule would benefit.

AOL Platforms and Multi Channel Network (MCN) announced the upcoming pilot in Australia last week, claiming it is the world's first "integrated programmatic private marketplace for TV".

The move, which has been designed to advance Australia's $4 billion television industry towards unified ad sales across TV and digital screens, hopes to provide advertisers and agencies with "targeted, data-driven, audience buying and consumer-led analytics".

The pilot will be offered across 70 subscription television channels, including Foxtel, FOX SPORTS, BBC, Discovery, NBCUniversal, FOX International Channels, Viacom and Sky News.

Dan Ackerman, head of programmatic TV, AOL Platforms, said that there is a shift occurring in the Australian market with the TV industry moving forward towards "its inevitable converged future with digital through data-driven audience buying."

However, responding to both Daglish and Sherlock and speaking out on behalf of the UK market, Nigel Walley, managing director of Decipher, said there is a misunderstanding from the digital world about TV trading.

"Most of the metrics, data and the systems which come out of the Silicon Valley are all about the user; you hear those words 'personalisation', 'user', 'log-in'. It's about the assumption that there is one face watching one screen.

"However, TV trades on an audience metric based on groups of people - family, friends, people sitting around in a room - and the great thing about BARB is that it is able to capture that. So until we resolve that, the merger [between existing and new trading systems] won't happen."

Walley also pointed out that legacy trading systems might not be compatible with newer technologies and this could also slow progress.

An audience poll of almost 200 media executives taken both before and after the Media Playground debate revealed - in the second round of voting - that 36% believe that in two years' time between 5 and 50% of TV advertising will trading like video-on-demand (VOD), whilst 33% believe that the situation will hardly change at all.

22% said they thought that VOD was actually more likely to be traded like TV, whilst less than one in ten believed 50% or more would be traded programatically.

Interestingly, Sherlock caused a change in the vote - driving a 15% upwards shift in those that believe that in two years' time between 5 and 50% of TV advertising will traded like VOD.


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Keith Pieper, Director of Product Management, Spotxchange on 5 Nov 2014
“Some great points are made here that puts a hefty dose of reality into the TV convergence discussion.

However, I believe the "ad fraud" problem is highly overstated. My research finds that the same inventory is considered fraudulent 4 to 40% of the time, depending on which vendor you ask.

I also believe that the claim of TV leading programmatic with "automated approvals" fails to grasp the bigger opportunity of programmatic - yes, automation is important to streamline costs, but placing inventory within a real time, market based transaction environment is what will drive value and revenue for everyone.

Finally, I think the notion of "poor quality audience data" holding back programmatic adoption is also not accurate. While one could argue that some programmatic data sources may lack accuracy, overall I would argue the data sets as a whole are more precise than the current proxy/sample method for targeting. TV has historically been sold on a household basis, which has largely been based on sampled data sets projected to a market, aggregating individual identities at a household level. Programmatic targeting generally uses actual user level data to target individuals with 1:1 precision, which will ultimately drive greater media efficiencies.”

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