Advertising Guest Columns
4 mins read

How publishers can reap the rewards of greater data transparency in the ad ecosystem

Data, and transparent access to it, is key to improving collaboration between stakeholders in the ad ecosystem and increasing the value that everyone – from publisher to consumer – derives from it.

This isn’t news. For example, in a joint effort to demonstrate the need to adopt standardisation in CTV, organisations like DoubleVerify and IAB Europe have been at the forefront of calls to make the industry more transparent. By improving the access to and the transparency of ad data we can use it to level-up the sector as a whole.

Currently, a renewed focus on data and transparency is underway, spurred in part by the rising interest in Supply and Demand Path Optimisation (SPO/DPO). IAB’s recent report on SPO offers a valuable analysis of the positive impact this process of putting transparent data into action can have, particularly for publishers.

As we move into the post-third-party cookie era (as outlined by IAB Europe), in which privacy is paramount, publishers will find renewed value in data related to inventory context, yield and quality. By identifying and analysing this type of data, and applying the insights, it’s possible for publishers to package and optimise their inventory to drive ROI.

Data transparency in the ad ecosystem

The ad ecosystem is complex. In the world of programmatic advertising, the route an advert takes from a brand through a publisher to its eventual delivery to a consumer is far from straightforward.

At a basic level, advertisers use demand side platforms (DSPs) to bid on ad inventory they want to buy. These bids are then routed through exchanges and supply side platforms (SSPs) to reach the publisher. The publisher then accepts the highest bid, and serves the associated ad. When that ad reaches a consumer, publishers also use several page integrations, for example video players, to ensure ads from each partner are displayed correctly. However, this adds further complexity and can also impact customer experience by increasing load times.

Within this system, it’s easy for data to become siloed between different intermediaries like sell-side ad servers, SSPs, DSPs, verification vendors, etc. Data might be gathered at each step of the process—for example, the ad targeting data may be gathered on the DSP side, the bid request data within the exchange or quality data once the ad is being served to a consumer. However, not all of this information is accessible to publishers, so there are times when the highest bid may not win, or ads may be blocked—the reason for this can sometimes be unclear to publishers.

At its core, what publishers need from the data flowing between each of these intermediaries are three things: breadth, depth and ease.

Publishers require data that covers the entire breadth of their inventory, and the whole ecosystem of the demand and supply path. To add value, those data sets must also have the depth to cover a wide set of performance KPIs—for example, by gathering detailed metrics on ad performance like perceived viewability or classification of adjacent content. Finally, all that data needs to be gathered with ease, for instance through automation, rather than manual processes, which are too resource intensive to scale across the dozens of partners that make up the ad ecosystem for publishers.

Hunter-gatherer: adtech and performance data

The lack of breadth, depth and ease of access to data (particularly when it comes to performance and quality) has traditionally made it challenging for publishers to efficiently and effectively package and price their inventory.

To overcome this, publishers need technology that will not only open up access to the right data insights, but help them to analyse those insights. A key part of this is using tools and technology that demonstrate which campaigns are meeting or exceeding buyer objectives and which are not. This may result in optimising with partners toward high value inventory, and/or inventory that meets specific quality criteria, depending on the needs of buyers.

From a consumer experience perspective, yield automation tools can also help address issues around the delivery of advertising. Meanwhile, tools like automated video breakage solutions and ‘healing’ can fix issues with delivery, and speed up page load times. This ensures consumers are delivered the right experience, and missed impressions are avoided.

A better ad future for publishers

Having access to the right data, analysing it and putting it into action can transform a publisher’s relationship with advertisers, while also improving consumer ad experiences.

To date, gathering that data and taking those steps has been easier said than done. However, in an era in which data transparency is becoming a north star principle, now is the time for publishers to consider what data can do for them.

The post-third-party cookie age and growing interest in processes such as DPO, which aim to give publishers clarity on who is buying their inventory, have brought the importance of data transparency into the spotlight. However, it’s clear that the significance of accurate, transparent and accessible data goes beyond one process or one stakeholder. With the right insights, revenue can be boosted through data-backed decisioning, underperforming inventory tackled, and the consumer experience improved. And with that, the whole ad ecosystem benefits.

David Goddard
Senior Director of Business Development, DoubleVerify and Chair of IAB Europe’s Programmatic Trading Committee

Headquartered in New York, DoubleVerify is a leading software platform for digital media measurement, data and analytics. Its technology platform provides advertisers with consistent and unbiased data and analytics that can be used to optimize the quality and return on digital ad investments.