Digital transparency has become an issue on everyone’s radar. It’s one that affects all sides of the coin, and if the subject doesn’t stay front and center, it will persist and become a problem that’s unavoidable over the long term. While transparency in paid advertising has been the elephant in the room for some time, it’s time to talk about it.
Today, advertisers are refusing services from marketing agencies due to lack of transparency and communication. What’s more, marketers are confused about the ads they’re buying online, and advertisers have gone to the extent of boycotting media channels that aren’t serving them. This raises particular concerns surrounding brand safety. Advertising is an aspect of branding that is unavoidable; therefore, to address the issue, advertisers need to take matters into their own hands.  

Where it all started

In early 2018, JP Morgan Chase faced a problem with YouTube regarding its ad placement. JP Morgan Chase ads appeared alongside irrelevant and poor-quality videos and, in turn, impacted the branding efforts of the company. When the brand got in touch with YouTube, the media channel responded slowly and inefficiently. To help their ad placement, JP Morgan Chase took action internally and developed an in-house algorithm that places their ads within secure, and quality, YouTube channels.

When it comes to paid advertising, advertisers want to know where their money’s being spent.

When it comes to paid advertising, such as with Google’s now Google Ads, advertisers want to know where their money’s being spent. They shouldn’t pay for their ads to be displayed alongside poor content, reaching the wrong audiences. Their brands need to be visible and useful, especially given the ad dollars they’re spending. With advertiser spends amassing over a billion in quarterly revenue, 90% of Facebook’s operations and revenue are ad content generated. Recognizing the need for transparency with these media giants is critical to the future of advertising. 

What can advertisers do to encourage digital transparency in paid advertising?

  • Engage with the agencies: Advertisers need to interact with agencies more often to ensure transparent communication. There should be a lead appointed to manage all media activity including continuous followup with agencies.
  • Transparent contracts: Transparency should be encouraged from the very beginning of the advertiser-agency relationship. And all fees and services should be discussed explicitly to avoid disagreements. 
  • Take over the tech: Just like J.P Morgan Chase, brands need to manage their tech. Moving full responsibility for the technical side to agencies or marketing channels can leave brands helpless in the wrong hands, especially with issues in transparency in paid advertising. Having an in-house tech team not only cuts extra costs but also provides a more collaborative equation between the brand and the agency.
  • Formulate concrete steps your brand and agency can take to manage the entire content marketing funnel.
  • Develop paid campaigns with players who are ‘playing ball’ so to speak with digital transparency. Twitter, for example, has recently taken big steps forward in honesty and transparency.

Agencies who have weathered the changing landscape of advertising and help brands compete transparently can help bridge this gap. What do you think is the best way to achieve transparency in paid advertising? Leave your comments below!