Adobe and AppNexus plan to give marketers supply-chain transparency from the DSP to the SSP by partnering on a pilot program.
Adobe Advertising Cloud will reveal all fees taken by the DSP, including the platform fee and any add-ons, as well as AppNexus’ bill to the publisher, which will help marketers track media dollars through the supply chain.
“In most industries, you don’t have to disclose your margins, and you don’t want to. But in programmatic, we have been plagued by players gaming the market, and it’s affected the confidence that the industry has in the technology,” said Brett Wilson, VP of Adobe Advertising Cloud. That’s why the DSP is going the route of “radical transparency,” he said.
For AppNexus to show marketers a full accounting of each publisher’s take, it had to renegotiate many contracts to remove NDAs around financial terms. Since October, half of AppNexus’ publishers have signed a trust and transparency rider.
“We have not had any say no,” AppNexus CEO Brian O’Kelley said. “There are maybes. It’s in the publishers’ interest, as well as the marketers’, to clean this up.”
Adobe launched a transparency initiative in October, recruiting a dozen exchanges to list their buy-side fees. But that initiative relied on SSPs to pass correct information and didn’t include publisher fees. The AppNexus partnership will take transparency a step further, Wilson said.
Marketers will be able to view the fees in their Adobe Advertising UI starting in March. And both companies plan to partner with other DSPs and SSPs to offer transparency on other platforms.
But because this is ad tech, the plan has at least a couple of loopholes. For example, rebates offered between DSPs and SSPs wouldn’t be visible through this model, since the fee isn’t being taken out of the advertiser’s bid.
Also, other tech partners need to participate, O’Kelley said. “One of my fears is … we are out in the market with full transparency and no one cares.”
But AppNexus is betting that marketers will want to reallocate advertising spend toward partners that disclose all fees, as the exchange does, O’Kelley said.
For Adobe’s Wilson, the benefit lies in increased confidence – and increased budgets – in the programmatic space.
“Hopefully we see advertisers invest more in the category, and shift more spend to the most transparent players,” he said.