Addressing transparency: avoiding digital fakes

January 24, 2020
SCMP Insights
What does transparency mean to you? 
As a premium publisher, we believe that transparency is key to demonstrating our commitment to driving the best return on investment (ROI) for clients.

However, due to efficiency pressures and time constraints, the metrics we use to report on them have unintentionally created a value for low-quality inventory. 
Digital fakes: 
It’s not surprising given the amount of press given to these topics that marketers are focused on achieving viewability targets and driving click-through rates (CTR) while also trying to buy more efficiently. 
Yet we believe this may lead you to buy the digital equivalent of a fake Chanel handbag from the Mong Kok Ladies Market! It may look like the real thing, but the product will be far from [high] quality. 

So what’s driving this economy and what would be a better metric? 
An industry of proxies:
Viewability is a proxy for attention. The WARC media report 2018 showed that only 23 per cent of viewable ads are actually seen. There is clearly still massive wastage when buying indirectly on inventory that just isn’t seen. 
Aggregated third-party data is a proxy for real actionable insight with known recency, provenance and quality. Using first-party data ensures you’ll actually reach those that you paid for.  
Brand safety is critical for those that buy on the long tail - Relatively small unknown sites, rather than large premium sites - but to those that buy on known, high-quality sites we believe it’s a case of suitability.   
CTR is the biggest proxy of them all – masking as action or intent. Why not work with strategic partners to measure and report on brand uplift or even attribution? 
So, who’s accountable? 
Clearly there is value in long-tail buying, but with developing restrictions to third-party cookies and diminishing targeting and measurement options, we believe it’s important for us all to come together to work on better standards that deliver real ROI. 

In the meantime, we think it’s well worth your time to explore more direct relationships with premium publishers that have spent the last few years creating well-lit, brand-safe, engaging and accountable spaces. 

It may cost a little more but you’ll see the quality long after the fake has lost its lustre.