Agencies should share their data with clients, and vice versa

Over £600m was wasted by our industry last year. The culprit? Non-viewable ads, the online equivalent of programmatically buying a billboard in the Sahara.

It’s a serious wake-up call for those of us with an interest in digital media. Viewability has been on the agenda for a long time, but we are still a long way from resolving the problem.

Part of the challenge is that the digital media buying ecosystem is so vast and complicated. Technology, inventory supply, data and numerous hardware platforms have generated an ecosystem of literally thousands of companies competing for a share of the budget.

If you have ever walked the halls of dmexco, the rows and rows of exhibitors brings this home. There are so many players, with very different skills and priorities. An ad campaign could go through half a dozen agencies before it is eventually seen by its audience.

But with this variety comes a serious lack of integration. My relatively recent move from the digital into the creative side of the industry has left me more than a little shocked at how fundamentally siloed these two intrinsic elements of digital marketing are.

The digital teams just don’t talk to the creatives, not in the level of detail they need to. And vice versa.

It should be so simple. Buying media against targeted segments in programmatic should lead to a deeper level of business intelligence, both about your audiences and about how effectively different components of your campaign are performing.

But far too often, it leads to only a superficial understanding, where you can see the overall sales figures from the entire media budget, but none of the details about what’s working and what isn’t. 

One of programmatic’s biggest benefits is its real-time feedback. Targeting audience segments using a DMP, buying against them through a DSP and linking this to the creative to ensure the content is relevant to the viewer, provides genuinely valuable insights into the marketing mix – which can have a dramatic impact on performance. 

Sadly, this happens all too rarely or not at all.

If we want to perform better, we need to rethink how we approach programmatic. This means challenging some of the default assumptions that our industry has made, one of which is our attitude to data.

It is my belief that any data that is utilised or purchased by the client budget, should be readily available to all parties in the digital marketing journey. Protectionism around what is being bought and at what rate, is hurting our industry and deeply hampering the effectiveness of the whole digital marketing journey.

Data matters at every stage of a programmatic campaign. When the route and reason to purchase varies from person to person, segment to segment, you need to always be joining the knowledge of how, why and who is being targeted to the content they then consume.

Protectionism around what is being bought and at what rate, is hurting our industry and deeply hampering the effectiveness of the whole digital marketing journey.

If you don’t, it undermines both the perception and the propensity to purchase. Relevance, as we all know, is everything. And an irrelevant ad is worse than no ad at all.

For all the debate around transparency right now, what concerns me most is the impact that the lack of transparency has had on the entire digital marketing ecosystem.

To truly make the most of first party data, the brand involved has to both be comfortable with how it is being used – both in flight and after the campaign. When you can truly understand the campaign’s effect on ROI and the effect it is having on brand equity, you have the chance to make every pound spent work much harder.

Using this data to enhance targeting, whether in prospecting or retargeting, is only the start of its real value. It is in the analysis and business intelligence, which can only come from linking the segment targeting to the subsequent consumption and purchase path of the consumer, where we can take digital marketing forward to where it can and should be.

But without total transparency of who, why and the true cost of reaching the various segments that are being targeted, the creative industry cannot create truly relevant content for the individuals involved.

Clear, transparent business models are required across the whole ecosystem, and true transparency has to be practiced, if we are to realise the full potential of our industry.

Duncan Trigg is the managing director at Oliver Media.

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