Industry bodies launch guidelines to restore the reputation of the programmatic supply chain

The industry’s three major bodies have collaborated to launch a set of guidelines, and a training program to ensure they are implemented, to improve trust in a digital advertising supply chain that has earned a reputation for being murky and opaque.

Last month, a world-first UK investigation into the programmatic supply chain revealed that 15% of an ad buy is unaccounted for, going to an “unknown delta”. And in February, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) kicked off an 18 month inquiry into the “black box” and “opaque” ad tech supply chain.

The 2020 Australian Digital Advertising Practices were devised by the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA), Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), and Media Federation of Australia (MFA), and act as an update to the first iteration, which was published two years ago.


The guidelines have five purposes. Click to enlarge

The new practices – developed by a team of advertisers, media agencies, digital publishers, and ad tech and subject matter experts – include guidance, checklists, links to sources, market and regulatory updates, and additional information on consumer privacy.

They also promote five guiding principles – champion the consumer experience, educate to inspire change, share ownership and responsibility, every value chain is unique, and fair value for outcomes delivered – and span six issues: digital value chain, viewability, ad fraud, brand safety, data governance, and consumer privacy.

The document is “designed to be read in under an hour, but to be referenced often” and encourage “shared responsibility” in increasing confidence and trust in digital advertising. In a joint statement, the IAB, MFA, and AANA explained: “The Australian Digital Advertising Practices do not solve all issues and are not mandated solutions. Rather they act as a starting point for advertisers, agencies and digital platforms to resolve how they will operate together.”

An education and training program will support the roll out of the practices, teaching marketers how to understand and implement them.

The digital value chain. [Click to enlarge]

“A cross-industry approach to best practices that also includes embedding them through training and advancing capability is a powerful way to build trust, confidence and better business outcomes for all.”

The MFA board has said it will ensure all relevant agency staff participate in the training program, and complete a proof of knowledge. MFA chair and Omnicom Media Group CEO, Peter Horgan, said the updated guidelines “will ensure we remain at the forefront of technical, market and regulatory changes”.

“For agencies, the Practices are a valuable tool in guiding conversations with clients, engendering greater trust and enabling them to work better together – which in turn should lead to improved effectiveness and better outcomes for clients,” added Sophie Madden, the MFA’s CEO.

“As an indicator of how important we consider the Practices to be, the MFA requires all relevant media agency staff to undertake training to ensure they’re across the updates.”

The ACCC is scheduled to release its interim report on the progress of the ad tech inquiry in December, with its final report to be released in August next year. The IAB, MFA, and AANA said a working group will review any findings and recommendations contained in those reports, to ensure future updates to the practices are aligned with “any significant changes in the market”.

“Given the rapid pace of change the inclusion of the strong framework of agreed standards and practices for digital advertising is an important step in continuing to build trust and instilling confidence in the digital advertising value chain,” IAB Australia CEO, Gai Le Roy, said.

Chair of IAB Australia Matt Rowley added that, as a publisher – Rowley is CEO of Pedestrian Group – the practices are reassuring. The UK programmatic study found that almost 50% of ad spend was sucked up along the way, before reaching publishers.

“[The practices] provide clear and usable guidance to help advertisers take better control of their advertising programs and their widespread adoption will help deliver fair value for all in the ecosystem,” Rowley said.


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