10 Steps to Media Transparency

February 5, 2016

Use these steps to build media transparency into your media transactions and foster trust with your media partners.

Susan Kantor, Director, Marketing and Communications

1. Follow industry standards.

Standards set by organizations like AAM, IABMRC and TAG help create a common language to measure and monetize media. It’s as simple as knowing that the metrics reported match the metrics in your ad delivery system.


2. Work with premium publishers.

Premium publishers stand for quality and trust. Cynthia Young explained The Globe and Mail’s perspective: “We don’t allow a lot of the lower level CPMs coming in that would allow us to make a couple of extra bucks here and there off the ad exchange. And we don’t allow just anybody to advertise on the homepage.”


3. Know your media partners.

Young explained: “With things like fraud and piracy, our publisher says it best, ‘Choose your dance partners wisely.’ If people want to make money off of us publishers, including people who may not be all that good, why do we allow them to access our inventory?”


4. Ask questions.

And also be prepared to answer them. “Clients should ask their agencies questions such as: ‘What sorts of places should our brand be exposed in via the programmatic space?’ If the answer is even vaguely hesitant, I would push pretty hard on that,” Ted Boyd of Brandworks said. “We as agencies should expect our clients to push us to deliver on those questions, challenges and insights because that drives better outcomes and may frankly better relationships.”


5. Follow the money trail.

Transparency means knowing where the money is going and consequently, where ads are going to run. “If you follow the money, you will always understand where your ad is going to be. If the money becomes opaque at a certain point, then you’re probably into some gray or potentially dangerous territory,” said Boyd.


6. Ask your audience what they want.

Similarly, ask advertisers what they want. Then design rich user experiences based off that information. “We are constantly looking at the user experience for each of our platforms,” McClatchy's Dan Schaub said. “We make a prototype and then take that prototype to market—our readers or business partners—to see if that helps them and delivers what they need. It’s about making sure the company is innovative and the user is at the center of the design process.”


7. Focus on education.

Understanding internal processes and how to apply industry best practices helps solve issues like fraud, malware, piracy and transparency. “We think this kind of education builds trust and builds a client base informed and equipped to partner with us to resolve problems with publishers,” GroupM's Joe Barone said. “If our clients are educated and our account teams are educated and we can put pressure on publishers, that education helped build that transparency.”


8. Get certified.

Work with certified companies. Certifications prove that technologies are functioning as they should. Boyd said: “I really like to think that we’re going to have an ecosystem where, unless you’re certified or are known to be of character, you’re not going to be able to participate or at a minimum advertisers and their agencies will be able to make an informed choice.”


9. Collaborate.

In an increasingly automated environment, it’s important to communicate with business partners and consumers to understand issues. “Stay close to each other. Work every day to have deeper understanding of how consumers use our products and what advertisers need and then connect the dots,” Schaub said.


10. Be transparent.

Because transparency builds trust, and trust builds a healthier media ecosystem. “It doesn’t matter if you’re an agency, advertiser, publisher, ad tech player or analytics or research house, all of us have challenges in terms of understanding how to build an ecosystem that is as close to perfect as possible,” Boyd said. “Full disclosure in an honest, transparent and timely way will build trust among all players and ultimately an environment where we can transact with trust.”

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