L’Oreal’s Koi Truong talks with AAM about his concerns with ad blocking and viewability and why he thinks advertisers need to act on the reality of media transparency.
AAM: Of all the issues facing the media industry—fraud, ad blocking, measurement, automation—which is the most concerning for your organization?
Khoi Truong: Media transparency in where our media investment goes is a priority for us. We want to understand what is really invested into media, ad tech, third party vendors, and publisher and agency fees.
But we’re also concerned about ad blocking. In Canada, there’s a lot of buzz around it. I’m working with my agency and tech partners to understand the state of ad blocking because there’s not a lot of data about the Canadian market. It’s a concern because ad blocking isn’t something that we—as advertisers—can control. It’s all on the consumer side and publisher side.
After seeing how ad-blocking has evolved over the last year, especially within the millennial age group, we, as an advertiser, need to rethink how we are communicating with our consumers. I don’t think ad blocking is a problem; ad blocking simply helps consumers convey a message that they’ve been trying to tell us for many years. Now it’s up to advertisers to understand the message and find new communication channels.
AAM: What does media transparency mean to your organization?
KT: I define three levels of media transparency:
The first is to just understand what we are purchasing.
The second level is to understand—within that purchase—what’s working and what’s not working so we can make adjustments and perform better.
The third level is how much it costs between agency fees, third-party technologies and other vendors.
AAM: What steps do you think the industry can take to build more media transparency between marketers, agencies, technologies and publishers? What are the responsibilities of each player in the digital supply chain to increase accountability?
KT: Advertisers first have to embrace media transparency. We need to be ready to accept what we're going to find out. We used to buy on a CPM basis and think that CPM was pure media. And then, when we opened the media transparency door, we realized that wasn’t the case.
Now that we have that transparent information, we need to accept it and decide what we’re going to do with it. It’s a big mess and we have to face it.
For L’Oréal Canada that means taking the first step and talking with the tech partners directly.
I believe that ad tech must find a way to explain how digital media is purchased to marketers in a language that marketers can digest and relate. For agencies, they must be open to discussions on media transparency, how the team operates and what they are doing on the buy. And marketers need to accept that media transparency comes with a cost. It can be a financial cost but it can also cost time and resources.
AAM: How can marketers be confident that their messages reach the right audiences alongside the right type of content? How do you know you’re getting your money’s worth?
KT: There are two things that marketers need to understand. The first is the target audience and environment and the second is KPIs.
We are working closely with our tech partners and publishers to understand the audience and web inventory available to build our private marketplace. With full media transparency, we are able to analyze our data and assess if we are targeting the right audience in the right environment.
It’s a hard question to correlate the media buy with the return on investment. For sure on our e-commerce we are able to tie in the return on investment. For our awareness and engagement campaigns, having media transparency on where we are spending puts us in a better position to analyze our KPIs and optimize our campaigns.
AAM: From your point of view, how have standards for display and video viewability progressed and been adopted in the industry?
KT: I find the definition of viewability pretty weak. The MRC baseline standard is 50 percent of the ad in view for one second for display and two seconds for video. That's not very impactful. I know GroupM has a new definition for viewability, which set the standard higher to 100 percent of pixels in view. This is a much stronger definition and I believe the industry has to put the higher standards in place for viewability. A stronger definition means the challenge becomes finding the right inventory.
AAM: Could you share any best practices, pointers, advice to build more media transparency and industry trust?
KT: The industry is changing a lot. What advertisers need to nail down is the KPI itself. Marketers still have a way to go to determine the right KPI and that needs to be our first focus. We need to understand how this media is measured. Some marketers want to have everything. They want to have high viewability and low costs. They need to understand that not all impressions are created equal.
AAM: Tell us a little bit about data and what you do with it. How do you organize and manage it? How do you glean actual insights from it and make it dynamic instead of just numbers on a spreadsheet?
KT: Companies need to train someone who is good in media about how data works or teach someone who is good with data about how media works.
I’m a data guy and they taught me how media works. So now I have a different perspective of media. There used to just be one or two KPIs but in the last three years we’ve come up with 10 new KPIs. Education is needed on the digital side, which is why L’Oréal Canada invests a lot in training marketers. We train them about how data works, the different KPIs and how they can challenge and achieve the right KPIs for the campaign.
Data is part of the L’Oréal Canada digital culture; we have structured a team to analyze the information flow of the consumer journey from brand discovery to interaction to purchase to loyalty.