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Supply chain transparency, and the opportunity to take back control

Strategy By: Dan LardenFeb 12, 2019

In 2018 the ‘Murky supply chain’ had started to clean up its act with initiatives such as ads.txt. In 2019 this process will continue and expand to other programmatic channels but there is still room for advertisers to take more control of this process, reducing ad fraud and making their media budgets work harder.


2018 felt like the year that ad tech heeded the call to clear up transparency issues in the wider digital display ecosystem.

Elegant solutions like Ads.txt were widely adopted on the publisher side which not only reduced spoofing, but also gave sophisticated buyers a view into whether publishers were working directly with SSPs (ads.txt Direct) or working with intermediaries (ads.txt Reseller). This was an important step to understanding the number of actors in the supply chain. See our whitepaper - The problem with ads.txt - for more information on what this is and how we are using it at Infectious Media to understand fees in the supply chain.

Towards the end of the year SSPs also came clean regarding their take rates from publishers making this information available to buyers to reassure brands and agencies that hidden fees were a thing of the past. This culminated in one SSP claiming that they would charge a fixed blanket 5% fee across all publishers for all display activity. We expect to see more of these announcements coming in 2019 as SSPs fight to maintain their services to publishers but at lower transparent costs to attract increased investment from buyers.

Moving into 2019, we see a big opportunity to implement these best practices from digital display to all mediums such as OOH and TV where traditionally closed agency trading models and opaque pricing is abundant. This push to increase transparency will be made easier as these formats become more digitised and programmatically available. By adopting similar technological and contractual methods to understand the raw media cost for inventory as we do in display, we plan to use our expertise in supply path optimisation and transparency to make traditional channels much more effective in the coming year for our advertisers.

This opening up of the supply chain, in terms of quality and fees, means that advertisers in 2019 should be receiving this transparency from their buying agent, and demanding these principles be applied to the supply chain of all media channels. With the increased digitisation of ‘traditional’ channels, putting these processes in place now will be an important future proofing move.  If this transparency is not forthcoming, steps should be taken to open this up to ensure that fair and honest trading practices are being taken.

Dan Larden, Strategic Partnerships Director, Infectious Media

This article is part of the IM programmatic trends 2019 series, read more here

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