Transparency is a hotly debated topic in the world of media and digital marketing right now. Anyone who’s read into it online will likely find there’s plenty of buzz around the subject, but very little when it comes to practical advice.

It’s easy to get lost in the many different options doing the rounds, but how do you decide what’s right for you and your business?

In this article

The current landscape How can you achieve clarity on your campaigns? Your three-step action plan for taking control of your campaigns How transparent is Epiphany's display approach?

The current landscape

There are a few different ways that brands can run their programmatic display campaigns, but some of them come with challenges when it comes to transparency.

Spend is set to increase this year and beyond, with many marketers and agencies upskilling teams to ensure it’s understood across all disciplines as it rolls out to other forms of media, and touches on other areas of their business.

Challenges of Programmatic Advertising according to brand advertisers worldwide, Aug 2017

% of respondents

Note: Numbers may not add up to 100% due to rounding. Source: Infectious Media ‘Report into the programmatic in-house trend’.
Reference: Challenges of programmatic advertising according to brand advertisers worldwide, Aug 2017,

As shown in the table above, clarity and transparency are issues being faced by the majority - there’s a much greater demand for knowledge of what’s happening behind the scenes. It’s a topic that’s become more and more widely discussed, and a lack of transparency is fast becoming something those in the market are being pulled up on.

As a result, transparency should be high on the agenda for brands that use, or are thinking of using programmatic media, which in practice could mean consolidating their partnerships for greater control, or selecting partners that are 100% transparent in the first place.

Data transparency is a priority for many brands so that they can understand the true cost for use of third party data, or CPM mark-ups, and have the reassurance that their data is their own, and not being used for the benefit of other advertisers, or even sold on.

How can you achieve clarity on your campaigns?

If you want to take more control of your campaigns, we’ve created a simple three-step action plan to help you do just that.

As well as this, there are several areas you can look into to get a heads up on your activity:

  • Have an open conversation with your team, your supplier or agency
  • Check the details of your contract
  • Review your approach to reporting and measurement

1. Check your contract

Your marketing activity is one of the biggest investments you will make as a company, and as such anything you spend needs to be justifiable. It’s a given then that you should be able to see where this money goes.

With campaigns of this kind, you may find that there are multiple stakeholders involved in its delivery, sat behind the scenes. These stakeholders might be valuable partners that add value to the campaign, or that are necessary to deliver certain technology and brand safety tools for example, while others may add additional layers of admin, without adding any value.

It’s important to know exactly how your supplier or agency gets paid for media campaigns.

Any media owner, supplier or agency should be able to give you a breakdown of how much of your budget is being used as the final media spend, and where all the involved parties’ fees come from. You might find that there are few parties that are actually willing to include this in your contract.

Key actions

  • Speak to your agency or supplier and find out how much of your budget gets signed off as ‘media spend’.
  • Check what costs are being reported on - is there a ‘gross’ and a ‘net’ figure that you’re previously not seen?
  • Find out what the true CPM that’s traded in the DSP is, and the media cost once all parties have been paid.
  • Check the number of parties involved, and how they’re paid. Do they add value?
  • Find out the real cost of your data, how does that look compared to performance?

2. Use your data

The quality of your digital media campaigns lie in their measurability. The data you get from this can be used to enhance your wider marketing activity, aiding your strategy and solving business challenges.

To really make the most of your data, it should flow both ways.

You can use audience data to help you understand your customers, such as their lifestyle, behaviours and consumption, while your own data can be used to help you find more of your best customers to scale in an efficient way, or to re-engage with lapsed customers, or make exclusions.

Creative and device data can also be used to build a picture of what your audiences respond to, or how they consume media, which can then be fed into your wider marketing strategy.

Data from your campaigns should be fully exportable so you can use it for analysis, and feed in to your existing measurement tools.

Key actions

  • Have a look at how often you receive insights into your audience and their behaviours - how do you use this to improve your campaigns?
  • Are you making the most of this insight? Is it being passed back to your business to enhance your customer understanding?
  • Are you able to export raw data or log file data to enhance measurement and attribution?
  • Are you able to ingest your own data to the platform to re-engage with customers?
  • Do you have clarity on where your data is held, and what it’s used for?

3. Get campaign visibility

If you’re unclear on how programmatic works, a good agency will take the time to educate your team, going through the details of the campaigns they’re running. This should include the placement targeting, buying methods and brand safety controls they have in place.

Your Programmatic campaign should be made simple - so long as the safety measures and integrations are in place, then the valuable input and time should be spent on factors such as:

  • Keeping a view on what’s new
  • The strategy
  • Performance
  • Understanding the competitor landscape
  • Helping to solve wider business challenges

Are you happy that your campaigns are reaching your KPIs in the best way possible? While it’s important to see immediate performance, you also need to help your business to grow. Ongoing customer retention and relationships are key, such as the lifetime value or renewal rates.

Key actions

  • Do you know how many unique users were exposed to your campaign?
  • How much of the campaign is automated vs manual?
  • What is being done to improve media performance and test new areas?

Part of the way we work with our clients involves positioning ourselves as a trusted partner, and in our efforts to build and maintain that trust, it’s only natural that we’re completely open and honest.

We tell our clients everything that’s involved, about costs, how campaigns are run and how data is being used.

Feeding accurate attribution models

It’s vital for us, and our clients, to be able to review the information available and review, measure and learn from it as accurately as possible. To have the best chance of producing accurate results, you need to have accurate information in the first place, which is why having full visibility of all data and costs is essential for true attribution.

We want to partner with brands that have an ambition to work across teams of experts that are as enthusiastic about growing their business as they are. This is what excites us and we are structured in a way that allows us to move quickly and be flexible to deliver fully integrated, well executed digital marketing - media needs to fall in line with this and not sit in silo. Only then can measurement sit across everything to give you a single source of truth.

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