ID Comms: digital is number one media transparency worry

Concerns about digital are the number one transparency issue for advertisers according to new research from ID Comms.

The ID Comms Global Transparency Report 2021 found that 76% of advertisers feel the digital supply chain as an area where they are not confident or satisfied with current levels of transparency. Not one single respondent to the research said they were confident.

This reflects a combination of issues with the digital ecosystem including inaccurate data, hidden fees and undisclosed trading deals – all of which are reducing the effectiveness and efficiency of money spent on digital advertising.

The extent to which digital concerns have moved up the action list is reflected by the fact that they now outpace more traditional worries around media trading/buying, which still remain. In 2021 59% of respondents cited this as an area of major concern. By contrast 73% expressed concern about rebates and AVBs (volume deals) – the No. 1 issue – in the previous wave of research in 2018.

The results are based on 56 responses from advertisers working across media, marketing and procurement, with a range of global, regional and local market responsibilities. Advertiser respondents cumulatively spend more than $10bn on marketing communications each year with agency respondents representing all major global holding companies as well as independents.

Multiple specific issues related to digital transparency and trading were identified as roadblocks to achieving better transparency. These ranged from a lack of visibility into agency trading practices and/or media owner trading agreements (63% of respondents), to a lack of data from walled gardens (49%) and lack of access to platforms, data visibility and granular reporting (35%).

Such concerns explain why one of the top three priorities for 93% of advertisers in 2022 is to implement a stronger media governance process and improved access rights. The second most popular priority (86% of respondents) was to establish clear media buying and reporting principles for their agency partners.

The underlying lack of confidence in this area is reflected by the fact that many now believe the only way to achieve a step-change in media transparency is to introduce external regulation. More than half of respondents (59%) either strongly agree or agree that transparency would improve significantly if media activities were regulated by an external body. Around a quarter (23%) of respondents are undecided, while around a fifth (19%) disagree.

ID Comms’ Paul Stringer says: “This latest ID Comms Global Transparency report highlights a mix of old and new concerns. The growing complexity of the digital supply chain is negatively impacting advertiser confidence, even if such worries are unlikely to stem the flow of ad spend to online media. At the same time, historic concerns about non-transparent behaviours around media trading continue to undermine confidence. It is no wonder that advertiser sentiment is a mixture of confusion, frustration and concern.”

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