Cross-industry Programmatic Taskforce announces its mission and objectives

Following a year since the publication of the ISBA Programmatic Supply Chain Transparency Study, in association with the AOP and carried out by PwC, a Cross-industry Programmatic Taskforce has made significant progress in laying out a future roadmap, despite a challenging environment.

The formation of the Taskforce involving all four stakeholder parties – representing advertisers, publishers, ad tech vendors and agencies – was a significant marker in the short history of online advertising and the development of programmatic trading, worth $147bn globally and £6.79 billion in the UK in 2020 (eMarketer).

The mission of the group is to transform the programmatic supply chain to allow campaigns to be evaluated and audited end-to-end. This will be achieved by enabling advertisers and publishers (including their appointed representatives) to gain access to transaction data, including all costs and fees in their individual programmatic supply chains where required, and to identify all participants through the supply chain.

The goal is to respond to PwC’s key findings and recommendations from the 2020 Study, principally to standardise the data structures and identify and mitigate the drivers of the unknown delta, (15% of advertising spend, which is unattributable and represented almost one third of total supply chain costs). This will be addressed through these objectives:

  • To enable all supply chain participants access to data.
  • To evaluate different techniques that would help achieve this.
  • To agree a common set of data fields.
  • To agree log file retention standards.
  • To drive cross-industry commitment to adopt common standards.

The current focus has already agreed several fundamental components:

  • Collegiate agreement to focus on enabling end- to- end financial audits of the programmatic supply chain by certified auditor representatives.
  • The decision to focus on a limited transaction data set to enable end-to-end matching of impressions and costs through the supply chain without the use of personal data or exposing competitive commercial data.
  • In addition, the Taskforce has identified multiple considerations such as, data structures and taxonomies.

Findings from the 2020 study and the Cross-industry Programmatic Taskforce outputs will also be used to inform the new study into the programmatic supply chain announced by the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) on 29 April.

“In almost 30 years that advertisers have been buying online advertising and 14 years since the inception of programmatic buying, this is the first time that all industry stakeholders have sat down and worked together to ensure transparency of media costs in this highly complex supply chain, are made available for audit,” said Phil Smith, ISBA’s Director General. “We are greatly encouraged that the study funded by our members has resulted in such a positive outcome for all involved in this exciting and expanding route to media buying”.

Richard Reeves, Managing Director at the Association of Online Publishers, said: “The ISBA/PwC study put a spotlight on transparency issues in the digital advertising supply chain and industry-wide collaboration is essential to address challenges of this magnitude. The Taskforce was created to facilitate change in the programmatic supply chain, and we are confident through continued investigation and collective action we will achieve standardisation across our industry.2

Jon Mew, CEO, IAB UK said “The programmatic supply chain is a hugely valuable part of our advertising ecosystem and improving transparency within it is a really positive step for all parties – advertisers, publishers and ad tech. The success of the Cross-Industry Programmatic Taskforce is essentially rooted in collaboration. Having all parts of the industry involved is fundamental to get a holistic view of the supply chain and understand how we can collectively build workable solutions. I’d like to thank our members who are contributing to this vital work.”

Our agency members were active, constructive participants in the ISBA/ PwC study and we look forward to continue working with them, their clients and our cross industry partners to drive ad tech transparency via standardised log level data access.

Nigel Gwilliam, Director of Media Affairs, IPA

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