GroupM digital boss: ‘Publishers grading their own report cards will always do well’

Miskelly: clients are confused about the different data sets.

Miskelly: clients are confused about the different data sets.

John Miskelly chief digital officer for Australia’s largest media buying group, GroupM, has warned clients are confused about the lack of consistent measurement in the programmatic and digital space.

Speaking, this week, at the Programmatic Summit in Sydney, Miskelly took aim at the inconsistencies of digital measurement, noting that he was particularly concerned with a lack of agreed third party verification for publisher data.

“What I get worried about is the inconsistencies of measurement across all these things,” said Miskelly. “I’m concerned in the area of the big players being the referees.”

He cited how comScore had, earlier in the day, noted how viewability across APAC was generally at a 50% rate, before adding: “Google say they have viewability at 90%, but whenever you are grading your own report card then your homework will always look a lot better.

“I guess that the inconsistency in how we measure stuff is a bit of a concern. A lot of clients are confused about the different data sets and what it is telling us.”

Miskelly urged the industry to move quickly to the “same hymn sheet” and establish agreed and clear standards on key areas of debate such as viewability and adfraud.

“Moving to a more consistent form of measurement – where everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet – will really help bring trust into the market,” Miskelly said.

The GroupM executive made the remarks while on a panel discussing transparency in programmatic.

L:R Moderator Nic Neumann, Dylan McBride Appnexus, John Miskelly GroupM, Matt Bruce Adobe.

L to R: moderator Nic Neumann, Dylan McBride – AppNexus; John Miskelly GroupM; Matt Bruce – Adobe.

Fellow panel member Dylan McBride commercial director of AppNexus agreed: “I think it comes down to the fact there are too many companies measuring the same thing.

“We are getting 15 different reports on the same media plan and they all have different numbers and so you don’t know who to trust or what value all those players are adding and which ones you can cut.”

Matt Bruce, general manager of Adobe Media Optimiser, said he believed the industry would move quickly to agree on these measures.

“I would think, over time, a standard around viewability, brand safety and adfraud – a standard measure – will emerge and I certainly hope that happens sooner rather than later,” he said.

“It is important for us to build that into our platform and we would certainly include a standard into that, as well.”

Miskelly also spoke about how GroupM had cracked down on adfraud from some of its inventory sources.

“About three years ago we found that there 230 programmatic inventory sources you could buy from in Australia and we literally cut off 224,” said Miskelly.

“I told one of our guys in Singapore, and he asked: ‘How did you do that? Was it data scientists, etc?’ but no, it was very simple: they just had to have an Australian phone number.

“We cut our inventory sources down to six to help tackle adfraud. It comes from the likes of open exchanges and if you can’t sit down and eyeball someone then we don’t want to deal with them.”

On the topic of transparency, Miskelly claimed that people often confused transparency with demands to ‘show the margin’.

“It’s quite an interesting one… you can look at different sectors where there is an agent as an intermediary between client and a seller,” said Miskelly.

“In the real estate industry you would never expect a real estate agent to increase the value of the property but if you went to newsagent and bought a can of Coke you wouldn’t question the price they bought it for from the wholesaler.

“It depends on the industry. What has happened is that digital technology has changed what the meaning of an ‘agent’ is and how they can put skin in the game.”

Miskelly noted that at GroupM, with products like programmatic offerings such as Xaxis, they would offer to combine data and inventory to create value for their clients.

“We take forward inventory and we take risk, we overly it with data through our proprietary technologies and we guarantee audience outcomes for clients so the role of the agent has certainly changed with digital and the disruption of technology.”

McBride added: “I think the agencies take a lot of heat when it comes to margin. In the bigger picture the agencies aren’t necessarily the ones running away with the money here.

“When you look at the people making all the money it’s the big media and tech companies. Google and Facebook grew an average of 26% year-on-year and the big (advertising holding companies) grew at an average of two to three percent.”

Nic Christensen


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