We live in a world of "buzzwords." Everywhere we turn, a new one seems to pop up and it is hard to keep track of all of them. While the terms "transparency" and "fraud" are not technically buzzwords, they feel that way in the world of Digital Media. We hate to use buzzwords without defining them, so here we go. By transparency, we mean being open and honest with our clients - from where their money is being spent, to our fees, vendor contracts, full disclosure of all digital reporting, and more. We will define fraud a little later.
This has become a hot topic for a few reasons lately, including news last fall that several agencies had been receiving kick-backs on their media spend. Then P&G, the largest advertiser in the world, earlier this year threw down the gauntlet, demanding transparency in the agency and ad tech space when it comes to fees, contracts, and more. At a recent Media Post OMMA conference in Atlanta, I had the opportunity to listen to a panel discussion on transparency, which continues to be the industry hot topic. You can watch it below:
When we think about transparency, we need to remember that the relationship between agency and advertisers is that of one team, a two-way street. Without open and honest conversation between both, success becomes less likely. A lot of this has fallen solely on the agency shoulders, but it is a joint venture. Agencies need to be transparent with their clients in all aspects of the business relationship and the client needs to be transparent in terms of goals, budget, etc.
In the realm of fraud, there are numerous incidents throughout the digital landscape so one must be on the lookout constantly for them. These are just a few examples of digital fraud:
- Unseen impressions or video views
- Fake news sites
- Offensive content
- Incorrect/inflated impressions
- Hidden markup
- Fraudulent clicks/bots
When we think about transparency and fraud, it is most commonly in reference to digital, due to its trackability. But it has been part of the fabric of all media for a while. Think about it:
- We get traffic counts from outdoor companies: Are they 100% accurate?
- What about print circulation numbers? Are those trustworthy?
- Television and radio ratings: are we to believe those are accurate based on the research methodology?
We say all this to point out that the traditional media forms of reporting have been around for decades, but we don't question them. We just take them as-is. But, with digital being the new kid on the block, we question everything about it.
Since our agency began, transparency has been the cornerstone of our commitment to our clients. From showing full buys to detailed reporting, to even showing them behind the curtain of their Google Adwords campaign. As we continue to evolve in the agency space, we continue to take steps to be sure that our clients are protected from fraud. To combat fraud, we've implemented the following initiatives: site blacklisting, DoubleVerify, in-house DCM Ad Serving and combining direct buying with programmatic.
McCulloch+Company is proud to offer in-house trading desk services as a programmatic buying option. This will also enhance this fight against fraud, giving us more access and control so we can optimize our campaigns and ensure our clients' money is being spent in the most effective way. Our technology platform gives us full access to the exchange as well as these targeting capabilities:
- Multi-platform: desktop, tablet, mobile
- IP targeting
- 3rd party data segments
With this new in-house DSP (Demand Side Platform), our clients benefit from:
- Greater attention to campaign optimization
- Lower CPMs
- No minimum spends
- More immediate access to data
Certain digital campaigns may require outside ad tech partners based on the specific digital channels or capabilities. But we will continue to hold these vendors to account on behalf of our clients, just like we always have.
Transparency and Fraud are real and a current threat in our industry. This article is not meant to scare brands away from digital, but rather reinforce the need for oversight, accountability and an advocate in your corner.
We counter this by including systems, procedures and reporting which minimize the opportunity for fraud. If you want to know more about our capabilities, then lets talk.