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UK: Cross Industry Programmatic Taskforce announces strategy to achieve financial audit transparency for programmatic advertising

The Cross Industry Programmatic Taskforce (the Taskforce), representing UK advertisers, publishers, ad tech vendors and agencies, has today released the first set of outputs to address the lack of transparency in the programmatic advertising supply chain.

The news follows the publication of the ISBA Programmatic Supply Chain Transparency Study, in association with the Association of Online Publishers (AOP) and carried out by PwC, almost two years ago (May 2020).

The transparency study, which looked at disclosed media buys, revealed it was only possible to match 12% of ad impressions, end-to-end, with an average of 15% of supply chain costs (ad spend) unattributable. In particular, the report highlighted a lack of standardised data across different suppliers and permission issues between Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) and Supply Side Platforms (SSPs).

To remedy this, the initial work of the Taskforce has focused on access to data and the standardization of data consistency, producing a toolkit of three instruments available for adoption by the industry:

  • The Audit Permission Letter (APL) intended to enable DSPs and SSPs to share the data needed for a full financial audit.
  • The Data Fields List (DFL), an agreed list of essential and supporting data fields which will provide the data to enable auditors to match impressions along the supply chain between advertisers and publishers.
  • The Principles document which summarises how the documents are intended to be used, by whom and why.

Richard Reeves, Managing Director at AOP, comments, “Now a set of tools has been agreed and created to improve financial audit transparency for programmatic advertising, the next step for us will be to encourage all our members to work with supply chain partners who have agreed to adopt all three instruments. While an initial strategy has been unveiled, the Taskforce will continue to evolve and work collectively to drive industry standardisation and facilitate further change – and transparency – in the digital supply chain.”  

This is great news for advertisers. At Tesco we have wanted this transparency for some time. It levels up the programmatic supply chain with other media channels in terms of auditability.

Nick Ashley, Head of Media and Campaign Planning, Tesco