Canada’s programmatic ad buying industry appears ready to take on all challenges, having faced brand safety and fraud issues head on to provide advertisers with new, smarter tools to reach consumers online. There are certainly challenges ahead, but publishers and agencies say they’re ready for what the future has in store. more..
That upward trajectory through 2018 won’t be perfectly smooth however. New data privacy legislation in Europe became a concern for marketers in this space when it went into effect at the end of May. The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) greatly restricts how companies collect and use personal information obtained from European citizens online (whether those companies are headquartered in the EU or not). Failure to comply comes with steep financial penalties.
According to Digiday, programmatic sales volumes in Europe dropped between 25 and 40 per cent the very day GDPR launched. The report suggests this reflects concerns on both the buy and sell sides — advertisers are worried that the many vendors in their complex supply chains aren’t fully GDPR compliant, and publishers reduced their European inventory while they made changes in their data collection policies.
In North America, the sales decline wasn’t nearly as pronounced, but several high-profile publishers did simply shut down their sites to European traffic to avoid any potential infringement. Major dailies such as the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times took this approach.
The good news, however, is that European sales volumes began to recover just one month later a remarkably quick resolution. And publishers are slowing taking a more nuanced approach to their European audiences. USA Today, for example, is directing European traffic to a new affiliated site that carries its news, but does not collect as much user information.
These swift responses come as no surprise, however. Agencies and publishers have become adept at working through such issues, such as last year’s well-publicized brand safety scares.
Automated ad placement caused concern in 2017 when campaigns for major brands were found next to questionable content on some of the world’s biggest online platforms – YouTube among them. That, coupled with persistent issues of fraudsters earning money by generating fake traffic for ads, has changed how agencies and publishers work in this space.
“Safeguards against fraud… are becoming bigger points of differentiation for advertisers,” says Jeff MacPherson, director, monetization platforms and services at CBC. “Advertisers want to know that their message is reaching humans who have the potential to buy their products or services.”
But according to MacPherson and his peers, the industry is responding well and risks are being minimized.
“Clients are more educated about programmatic capabilities, the platforms and the players,” says Benoit Skinazi, SVP of sales at District M. “We think it’s only the beginning of that. Advertisers and agencies are taking more and more control.”
“The industry has grown up,” says Veerle De Lombaerde, COO North America for The Exchange Lab. “We accept that the control, the reporting and the integration of fraud and verification tools are a mandatory hygiene factor. They just need to become standard.”
Even though the most high-profile brand safety flubs came from media’s most high-profile players (i.e. YouTube), those big players remain the most in-demand inventory, according to Wave Digital Media president and co-founder Josh Rosen. YouTube is still at the top of clients’ lists (alongside Instagram and other pre-roll sellers). So whatever skepticism emerged last year has quickly fallen away.
“I think brand safety is more the issue than fraud,” Rosen says. “There have been some fumbles by other companies where pre-rolls were seen in front of questionable videos. That’s because the companies are not watching… They’re just spending and not paying attention to where the campaigns are going. We take it very seriously.”
Mobile also tends to be clients’ first ask, even though the potential risk factor is a bit higher (because not only is user data available for the taking in apps, but location data represents another layer of potential scrutiny). Regardless, Paul Brousseau, president of Juice Mobile says mobile remains a treasure trove of consumer information. “We need to make sure that data is secure and that we’re really respecting the customer. We’ve got to take a proactive approach to protecting people’s information.”
How companies get proactive varies from firm to firm. Some like CBC are automating operations to remove human error. Others such as District M are hiring experts to educate people up and down the vendor chain. To learn more about how Canada’s programmatic leaders are expanding and improving their business, click below and keep reading.