What job descriptions can tell us about murky adtech practices

Bonzai’s VP of Sales, Rupert Pay, shines a torch on some of the darker arts still being practiced in the world of adtech. Hint: It's all in the job description.

Everybody within the ad mix should add value to the food chain. It’s not a difficult concept to understand, and you’d like to think that everybody would agree.

But when it comes to vendors packaging and selling any combination of digital media, ad-serving and creative solutions, there are definitely some questions that are still going unanswered.

I recently came across a job spec for what you could describe as a competitor of ours. It wouldn’t be appropriate to name them, and the job title was generic enough – platform manager. I read down through the job spec and one sentence stood out at me.

“Offering suggestions on improving the delivery and to efficiently optimise, to gain the best response and the highest chance of gaining incremental value.”

There it was, as bold as you like. So, how does one efficiently optimise to permit the highest chance of incremental revenue? Well, it’s quite simple and quite legitimate.

We’ll show you lots of shiny logos of marque brands whose home or section pages would go for a pretty penny, then ensure that your ad runs on much deeper inventory that costs significantly less. You get the impressions you’ve paid for. You get the “brand safety”. Easy.

And the biggest irony in all of this, is that I know for a fact that this particular operator puts transparency in the form of brand safety and premium environments front and centre.

And this is just the first part. The second part is more glaringly obvious.

If you’re buying digital media from someone who is not the owner, you are almost certainly paying a mark-up. This is how these kinds of businesses are making money, which brings me back to my original statement about adding value. Are they? I would say no.

But there are two easy ways to avoid all of this.

First, understand definitively where your ads will run in advance. Then check mid and post-campaign that it has been maintained. The second way is to buy the inventory direct. Speak to your investment leads and/or programmatic teams about it. You’ll probably save yourself some valuable budget, whilst retaining greater media control.

Is your creative ‘free lunch’ really free?

I often hear “but competitor X is offering free creative”.

Well to put it simply, there is no such thing as a free creative. It is being paid for somewhere and somehow.

Do people really think there are creatives out there, sitting and designing your ads for free? No, but they’re still buying into the concept. Again, this is easy to circumvent. Ask your vendors for a breakdown of the costs and for buying options to the model, where you may want your own creative solution in place.

Transparency takes many forms. Let’s make all of them a priority.

It’s time we started making transparency and greater accountability a priority in our industry and leave murky practices behind us. Ultimately, partnering with the right solution provider, who offers transparency, flexibility and takes your ad-spend budget seriously, is critical to ensure that you can demonstrate better value for every ad dollar spent on your digital media, creative and ad-serving needs.

Rupert Pay is the vice-president of sales for creative technology platform Bonzai.


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