In the same week that Unilever threatened an online ad boycott and Google finally launched its much-hyped ad blocking service, marketers are calling on the adtech industry to adopt a code of ethics to tackle concerns over media buying transparency, amid claims that most brands are unaware of what they are buying or how much it really costs.
“Smoke and mirrors” claims have plagued the industry for years, although advertisers continue to plough billions of pounds into the online market; at the last count the sector was worth £165bn.
But a new report by Iotec, Ethical Adtech: Bringing Transparency and Accountability to Digital Marketing, is calling for a coordinated effort between clients, agencies, suppliers and media owners to resolve transparency and brand safety issues.
Leading brands Direct Line, Jaguar Land Rover, and TSB Bank took part in the report and Jaguar Land Rover general manager of global advertising Ian Armstrong said: “There can be a conflict between looking for the new and innovative, and taking a responsible attitude. The new thing won’t necessarily deliver better results than the tried and tested. You have to be cautious.”
It shows that the overwhelming majority (89%) of marketers want a standard code of ethics to be implemented, in order to enforce transparent practices with adtech vendors. Meanwhile only 56% of marketers believe that their current tech provider is honest and transparent.
The top three areas marketers believe to be least transparent are the use of data (60.8%); price and margin (42.4%); and optimisation tactics (38%), with 81% of marketers prepared to switch to a more ethical, honest advertising supplier.
In response to these concerns, the Ethical Adtech Manifesto, sets out three core areas to address and rebalance the industry: transparency and fair trading, efficiency and effectiveness, and brand protection, security and privacy.
Iotec chief executive Paul Wright said: “Technology has advanced faster than we have been able to build a framework to harness it for the benefit of all: publishers, consumers and advertisers. The survey results reflect the desire for change across the industry and I hope that the Ethical Adtech Manifesto inspires some action. Iotec is proud to be leading the charge, as a media buying platform that believes in end-to-end openness and transparency.”
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