Dan Salzman, Global Head of Media, Analytics and Insights, HP
Dan Salzman, Global Head of Media, Analytics and Insights, HP

Co-Authored by Dan Salzman, Global Head of Media, Analytics and Insights at HP, and Opher Kahane, CEO & Co-Founder at Origami Logic. This is a recap of a mainstage session that was led by Salzman and Kahane during The CMO Club Spring Summit.

What if every time you went grocery shopping, 50% of what you purchased was immediately thrown away after you paid? Additionally, it wouldn’t be clear how much of the remaining groceries will be fresh enough to consume when you got home?

You would probably feel misled and not want to go grocery shopping anymore.

This is the analogy we used to drive home the critical issues of fraud and trust when it comes to working with agencies and paying for media. There is a broken media supply chain, and it’s time to look at how brands can create more trust and transparency in our ad inventories.

Enough is Enough

A few weeks ago, P&G’s Mark Pritchard drew the line and delivered one of the most powerful speeches in CMO history. He addressed four important points that all marketers are concerned with right now:

  • Adopting one viewability standard
  • Third party measurement verification
  • Transparent agency contracts
  • Preventing ad fraud

Historically, P&G has been a key player driving the marketing industry – their commitment to go digital with their budgets a few years ago and their statement a decade ago on not paying slotting fees for retail are just two examples – and this speech only solidified the agency’s place as a leader in the industry. However, we think this is only just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to solving our problems.

Opher Kahane, CEO & Co-Founder, Origami Logic
Opher Kahane, CEO & Co-Founder, Origami Logic

The Implications of the Current Viewability Standard

Let’s look at the first point on Pritchard’s speech. Right now, the MRC standard for display is one second, with 50% of pixels in view. For video, it’s three seconds, with the sound off. This doesn’t make a lot of common sense – especially for technology categories where we are managing a funnel and purchases are being considered.

Additionally, when HP audited the inventory, it revealed that nearly half of what we paid for DID NOT even meet that low standard.

P&G needed to use some sort of existing standard – and it may even still have some value for well-known brands. However, the existing state of affairs leaves much to be desired for brands with considered purchase journeys.

The solution? Adopting a common-sense approach that starts with the simple goal of ensuring that our ad inventories have the chance to make an impact with our audiences. For HP, that means display ads need to be 100% viewable for at least five seconds; And video needs to be at 50% completion with the sound on.

The Search for more Transparency

HP wants a higher standard – and so do many other brands – but today’s digital ecosystem will make achieving that goal very difficult without help from the industry as a whole.

Origami’s analytics show that there is inventory out there that meets these new standards, but the percentages are low – about 14% of for display and 30% for video. For brands that are looking to positively impact their ad spend ROI, it starts with buying higher quality inventory, avoiding non-viewable impressions and changing the metrics. Impressions need to be measured as viewable impressions; CPM should be CPvM; And reach and frequency should be effective reach and frequency.

It’s about focusing on higher quality publishers – premium paid social, less programmatic, etc – and demanding more mileage out of our advertising spend.

As for the other three issues Pritchard brought up in his speech, these are topics that will continue to be top of mind for marketers, too. Owning ad tech is critical and the issue of ad fraud will only become more important over time.

At HP, we’ve put a lot of thought and work into addressing media transparency. We’ve chosen to make our ad tech stack an internal capability that we manage directly, in order to have better visibility to the media buys our agencies are executing. This also includes maintaining the relationships with key fraud and viewability vendors to increase our performance in that arena.

For other CMOs and brands who are looking to move in the same direction, we’d recommend that you start with people, processes and platforms. Take a look at your ad inventory and see where you need to do a deeper audit and establish more media transparency. For many brands, partnering with a consulting organization who has expertise around this topic will help them maneuver the process and gain more clarity.

And remember this quote by Mayum Ahsam: “Don’t trust everything you see. Even salt looks like sugar.”