“Data-Driven Thinking" is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.
Today’s column is written by Justin Silberman, vice president of product at Dailymotion.
Transparency has been a buzzword in ad tech for years as marketers look for more clarity on the fees and quality of inventory they buy. The conversation has also shifted to political advertising, with Facebook rolling out new tools in April to ensure only authorized advertisers can run ads on its network.
As brand safety and ad fraud continue to challenge the advertising industry, brands expect unprecedented transparency from their ad tech vendors. But don’t consumers deserve a similar level of transparency from the advertisers they engage with?
A lack of user-based transparency on major social media platforms in 2016 allowed for the amplification and targeting of content that, in reality, were ads paid for by Russia’s Internet Research Agency. Since then, privacy regulations like GDPR have helped consumers learn more about who has access to their data and take control over how their data is shared. But our users deserve even more.
If we want to create a truly transparent ad tech ecosystem, consumers should have more visibility into who is paying for ads and why they’re being targeted with specific content. All facets of the ecosystem – brands, publishers and platforms – need to work together to provide more user-based transparency and, ultimately, build more trust in ad tech.
Recent initiatives such as Google Chrome’s recent update to remove all third-party cookies could signal progress for transparency in how user data is collected, but publishers will still be able to share information with different providers without the user’s consent.
On the other hand, through updates to its "Why Am I Seeing This?" ad information panel, Facebook has made a progressive effort to educate its users about the origin of an advertisement, how their data is being used for targeting and why their data is needed to create relevant experiences on the platform.
While this is the first step in the right direction, we need aggressive action taken beyond the walled gardens. The goal is to ultimately incentivize all players of the larger ad tech ecosystem, such as supply-side platforms and exchanges, to collaborate and replicate Facebook’s concept across sites and programmatically.
Emerging technology will also be key to providing more user-based transparency for advertising. There will be a future where a blockchain type of technology will be able to track the entire content journey through the ad stack, from the brand to the demand-side platform and beyond, showing how the content gets to the end user. It would be a game-changer if all sides were to commit to not invest money with any company or provider that doesn’t include this transparency throughout the entire value chain.
With the California Consumer Privacy Act set to take effect in 2020, it’s even more critical for the industry to align on how to enhance user-based transparency to educate consumers about why they’re targeted with specific advertising. With the right level of collaboration from all sides of the industry, we can get closer to building more trust in ad tech.