We choose to go to the moon! Not because it is easy, but because it is hard ..

Big audacious problems require big, ambitious solutions and some say programmatic transparency is the mother of them all! In fact, the problem is almost as big as the $24bn cost of the Apollo Space Program!

We founded Fenestra 2 years ago to solve the destructive problem of supply-chain opacity in media . We’re thrilled to see our industry take a large step forward today through the publication of ISBA’s Programmatic Supply-Path Study, led by Phil Smith and Steve Chester, in partnership with Richard Reeves of AOP. PWC have applied their deep auditing skills to conduct the study on behalf of ISBA’s members.

Why so destructive? Opacity damages advertiser RoI terribly, of course, but more than this it kills innovation, it fosters bad behaviour and it pollutes the pure of mind and spirit. Without firm data foundations, optimisation becomes random guess work. Media plurality suffers badly.

It’s taken 2 years to get together but PWC’s data is freshly picked with fieldwork conducted between January and March this year. The results, very challenging to the industry, come as no surprise and reflect much of what Fenestra sees in the UK. Like intrepid explorers, we applaud the advertisers, agencies, programmatic partners and publishers that participated in the study and took the giant leap propelling the industry towards a better place.

1) PWC find that just 51% of an advertisers budget reaches the intended destination – the publisher. Intermediation, fees, tech, disclosed … or not .. all add friction in the chain. Worse, PWC recognise the study represents the Best Case scenario and that worse is out there. We are left wondering who declined to participate in ISBA’s study and why?

2) PWC states that, on average, 15% of an advertisers spend simply disappears though the proportion of missing money can reach as high as 86%. Where do The Missing Millions go? They represent a whopping ⅓ or more of the Total Supply-Chain cost. Advertisers and publishers need to urgently identify where the money goes. Fenestra, with our implementation of sellers.json, now drills deeper into the supply-chain than ever.

3) So, the huge breadth of the problem is now known and has a face. All stakeholders in the industry will act. Advertisers, their trusted advisors, AdTech and publishers will now all manage and monitor what is happening. Indeed, the timing of the publication of this report could not be more important given the impending global recession and increased scrutiny that every ££ of marketing investment will endure. To harness this explosion of energy, standardisation is an important journey we must now go on or we could all disappear in different directions.

For our part, we have been deep in this exact market for years solving the challenges Sam Tomlinson and the team at PWC have astutely highlighted today. The Fenestra Transparency Protocol provides a data taxonomy, set of operational procedures & technologies and technical integrations to track a transaction between intermediaries allowing the identification, recording and reconciliation through the programmatic ecosystem in near real-time.

We hope to play an experienced role, providing applied commercial, legal and technical expertise in helping craft this new standard bringing to bear all our experience in solving this problem for advertisers and publishers both domestically and internationally. We must all be guarded not to let the cynics deliberately delay progress by using a search for, possibly, an international Data Transparency Standard as an excuse to kick the can down the road. Rightly, ISBA call for swift action.

4) A core recommendation from PWC is on-going insight into this growing area of advertisers and publishers businesses. It’s a key rationale for Fenestra. The programmatic market is a complex, dynamic auction where both supply and demand vary in real-time.

It takes technology to track technology

Fenestra’s platform and transparent data ecosystem allows our partners to manage and optimise their mutual supply-paths now.

In the end, this all needs to deliver improved outcomes for brands and publishers. Transparency, and the trust it engenders, is a foundational requirement but not an outcome that creates better results in and of itself. Thus, Fenestra has built a suite of cross-platform SPO tools to deliver measurable value for our partners as a consequence.

We approach a binary moment for our industry and participants in it. As Graeme Adams, Head of Media at BT Group, succinctly puts it “We desperately need to see a common set of standards adopted and more openness in this market, so that every penny spent is accounted for. If this happens, we’ll invest more in the channel; if not, we will cut back and reshape our trading approaches.”

.. because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win ..

Get in touch to find out more about Fenestra

You can obtain your copy of the ISBA Programmatic Supply Chain Transparency Study here