Hm…. If you saw a totally hypothetical article titled “Study Finds ‘Transparency’ Impedes Display Ad Growth,” would you assume that article was about transparency . . . I don’t know, actually impeding ad growth? Maybe I’m crazy, but I think that a study that finds the lack of transparency impedes display ad growth is the opposite of that headline?
Yeah, I must be crazy. But that is what AdSafe Media’s commissioned study (performed by the Winterberry Group: PDF white paper). In fact, that transparency isn’t what we might assume, either—the lack of transparency from ad networks and publishers about exactly where and in what context an ad might appear holds back an estimated $2 billion in ad spend.
Related to this lack of of transparency are concerns about brand safety in advertising. Most of these online display ads are sold through “non-premium channels” (90%), and the majority of those don’t offer any information on even the sites in the network, let alone the individual page content. Worse, “Anecdotally, marketers tell stories of botched campaigns, disastrous brand exposures and quick, last-minute media plan revisions.” Many of these channels don’t give the advertisers a way to verify their ad received the promised-and-paid-for impressions.
Says the report:
[P]anelists paid specific attention to the question of “auditability”—that is, verification that a paid-for impression ultimately appears where a network or ad exchange claims it will. Many said that ongoing doubts about the reliability of the current buying system (which weighs heavily toward indirect channels) continue to inhibit broader interest in the display medium, with some advertisers holding back spend and others vesting responsibility for their dollars in the hands of other parties.
Most of the respondents (46.5%) say they’d expect display ads to grow 10 to 20% if these problems were resolved. Another 14% expect even more growth. Concerns about brand safety on non-transparent ad networks could be holding back billions more in advertising dollars, says the report.
What do you think? Would you expect display ads to grow with ad network transparency? What information do you need before signing up for a display campaign?