Article: 5-min Read

Media transparency in advertising. Yep, we’re re-imagining media for good.

Stephen Dwyer

Senior Director, Partner Solutions Group

It’s time media agencies help advertisers understand and calculate the real business value of their media spend. Actually, it’s way past that time.

You’ve heard it before: “There needs to be more transparency in media.” But what does this mean? Among media agencies and advertisers, transparency takes many forms: transactional transparency, data transparency, consumer privacy transparency—and now value transparency.

Our media world is changing and that demands a new way of thinking about media transparency as a whole. Frankly, it is a tough conversation to have, since transparency in our industry is most often a code word for “accountability” for media costs and media measurement. But it is a necessary tough conversation.

And while we’re having that conversation, we should also be transparent about the mutual value of media and how it benefits all of us, advertisers, agencies and ad tech partners alike.

To re-imagine media, we must align on the different definitions of—and actions to take regarding—media transparency.

Transactional Transparency: “Just tell me the cost of media itself.”

Advertisers are asking, “Am I getting good value for the media dollars I am investing?” How are we answering that question?

The advertiser’s goal is to achieve the best return on ad spend (ROAS), and the way to achieve this goal is by media agencies and advertisers practicing transactional transparency. To prove transparency and accountability, media agencies must help advertisers understand and calculate the real business value of their media spend.

Especially in times of economic uncertainty, when advertisers scrutinize the cost of media more closely to ensure every dollar counts, media agencies who are transparent with the media spend and ROAS calculations based on actual sales win the day.

Data Transparency: “Let me see and touch the data.”

Unable to mine and analyze performance data for their media campaigns, advertisers can get frustrated trying to identify optimization insights to inform their own media campaigns. Furthermore, industry walled gardens often remove media results from campaign reports under the guise of consumer privacy, forcing advertisers to trust the reported numbers.

Of course, both advertisers and media agencies want to maximize media performance, increase ROAS and minimize wasted ad spend. But a lack of data transparency diminishes trust.

Data transparency demands that media agencies and ad tech partners give advertisers access to data in a secure environment, so that advertisers can learn about their audiences, inform future media strategies and drive better business outcomes without jeopardizing consumer privacy. Without data transparency, effective campaign insights and optimization are nearly impossible.

Consumer Privacy Transparency: “Is my customer data safe?”

Coming off the heels of data transparency is privacy transparency. Driven by growing concerns over consumer data privacy (hello, “death of cookies”) and recent regulatory developments (GDPR and CCPA), brands need to know that the data they use for media campaigns is safe.

Analyze item-level sales performance with a media partner who gets real people.

The catch? Many consumers still want the personalized, automated experience that technologies like third-party cookies have enabled. For advertisers, media agencies, and ad tech partners to succeed, they must come together to ensure:

  1. Brand-positive environments and relevant ad placements.

  2. Activation on higher fidelity, real-people data.

  3. That consumer data is used for good instead of creating cookie pools of observable people.
The future of our media world requires us to talk about a new, critical element of transparency—one that shifts advertising from an ecosystem based on volume to one based on quality.

Value Transparency: “I need first-party data for more targeted audiences and improved ROAS.”

Even though the industry has gone digital, advertising still relies on cost per thousand (CPM) impressions to measure and justify the value of media. But now advertisers, media agencies, and ad tech partners need to agree that the value of media in the future is going to be focused on building more targeted audiences based on real-people data to provide improved, more accurate ROAS.

Here’s what the future of media transparency will look like:

Tying advertising back to actual sales (in store and online).

For future media campaigns, advertisers will turn to high-quality data—not high-volume data—to improve ROAS.

Building more granular audience segments for better campaign insights.

Through real-people data insights and audience segmentation, you can finally access the rich, meaningful insights you’ve always wanted. Advertisers can create cross-channel experiences that reach consumers when they search for information, evaluating different brands, and actively shopping.

The heart of transparency is a true understanding of what your media is doing for your bottom-line improvement and top-line growth. At Roundel, we believe advertisers of the future will expect media partners to be transparent about the mutual value of media, and we’re set to deliver. Because the more you get people, the more people you’ll get.

headshot of Stephen Dwyer

Stephen Dwyer

Senior Director, Partner Solutions Group

Steve joined Target in 2016. In his current role as Senior Director, Partner Solutions Group, he leads multiple sales and account management teams focused on Roundel’s scaled business, along with the Seasonal and Inclusive team. During his tenure, Steve has led teams responsible for media planning, reporting and insights, and client management.

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