Why Everyone in the Digital Supply Chain Needs to Step Up Transparency

May 6, 2016

Chief Digital Revenue Officer for Bonnier Corp. Sean Holzman explains why transparency is equally important for advertisers and readers and why digital marketers, agencies, technology providers and publishers need to meet in the middle to solve some of the industry’s top challenges.

Kammi Altig, Communications Manager

Sean Holzman, Bonnier Corporation

AAM: What does media transparency mean to Bonnier?

Sean Holzman: At Bonnier, we break transparency into two areas—advertisers and readers.Transparency means having no secrets with our advertisers. It means sharing analytics, URLs and which sites ads will run on. We’re happy to share the information we have available to help advertisers reach their goals and get the right ROI.

For readers, publishers and advertisers need to be very clear about data collection, retargeting and the content they see. If done correctly with full transparency, the reader experience should be better and have less disruption. Readers can get the ads and content they want instead of what they don’t. It’s a very delicate balance and readers have to know how and where to find privacy policies. I’m not sure a link at the bottom of the page is going to cut it. We should also be more transparent about why publishers run ads so we can continue to publish content for free on our websites, or give readers other options for getting to our content.


AAM: What steps do you think the industry can take to build more transparency between marketers, agencies, technologies and publishers?

SH: We all need to meet in the middle. One of the biggest issues with transparency between partners is we often use different tools to measure and analyze ad performance. If publishers and advertisers use two different tools, we will likely get two different answers or metrics. Most, if not all, do not match. The only winners here are the technology companies getting paid from both sides.



AAM: What work still needs to be done to make viewable impressions the currency?

SH: There has been a lot of positive momentum with viewability standards. Viewability standards are helping drive up the value of ad impressions and performance of the campaigns.  

But we still have a lot of work to do to cut down on latency, standardizing measurement tools and making ad servers smarter. Latency is one of the biggest contributors to low viewability and user experience and working together to solve it will go a long way. If the industry can minimize the number of calls (code firing) to render an ad, we will be half way there. It’s not uncommon to have 20 to 30 calls per page when delivering impressions, and some technology companies are called multiple times with each call adding delays.


AAM: Is ad blocking as much of a concern for your organization as it has been portrayed in the news?

SH: Ad blocking is definitely a concern. We have some sites with more than 15 percent of impressions being blocked and we need to remain vigilant and focused on providing the best experience we can in an effort to win back users and allow ads to be seen on our sites.


AAM: What steps is Bonnier taking, or planning to take, to address issues like fraud and piracy?

SH: One thing we have learned is that there is always room for improvement. New technologies can be refined to address issues that arise.  We have already taken steps to help continue to eliminate fraud and piracy on our sites. Bonnier was the first company to work with DoubleVerify’s publisher bot avoidance to block suspicious traffic from serving ads. We have Moat for viewability and to monitor NHT, and we work with Media Trust for malware being served through ads. We will continue to be a market leader having the best tools available for our advertisers.


AAM: Could you share any best practices, pointers, advice to build more media industry trust?

SH: It really gets back to transparency. Companies should have nothing to hide and should be proud of how they conduct business. So, disclose information. Let advertisers know the tools and methodology you’re using and where ads are served. Let users know how and what you use their data for. Be clear and communicate, and continue to take a leadership position in these matters.

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