The ANA is planning a programmatic benchmarking service 

Consecutive bombshell reports over the past year demonstrate that marketers could be a lot more proactive about reducing waste in their programmatic supply chains. 

With such concerns in mind, the Association of National Advertisers is kicking off a transparency initiative, or “programmatic benchmarking report,” that aims to help its members better account for their media spending. 

Some of the murky elements of ad tech business practices were laid bare to marketers in the ANA’s preliminary transparency report at last year’s Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity.   

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Meanwhile, subsequent reports by Adalytics spelled out some of its plain ugly elements, with the research outfit exposing uncomfortable truths as to how brands’ media dollars fund ‘questionable’ parts of the internet. 

Adalytics’ most recent report uncovered that hundreds of major advertisers unknowingly placed ads on so-called “made for advertising” websites – a major problem highlighted in the ANA’s ad tech audits of the last year. 

A clear ‘must try harder’ for brands when it comes to managing their online media budgets and better education among the upper echelons of marketing departments across the industry.  

The ANA has confirmed with Digiday that it is kicking off a further transparency initiative, or “programmatic benchmarking report,” that aims to help its members better account for their media spend. 

The new ANA initiative will initially invite marketers who participated in the ANA’s 2023 study to evaluate the efficiency of their programmatic supply chain in conjunction with TAG TrustNet.       

For example, participants will be assisted in understanding better how much log-level data they receive in return for the ad impressions they purchase. Additionally, how many such impressions are deemed viewable, verifiable, and not on MFA websites? 

From here, it will attempt to extrapolate data to estimate better what their ‘true CPM’ is. 

“The benchmarking project will initially invite up to 35 marketers,” said Bill Duggan, ANA evp, in an emailed statement to Digiday. “The participants will get to evaluate their own programmatic supply chain and compare it to the benchmark. On a quarterly basis, we will publicly release the benchmark, which will compare this new activity against metrics in the 2023 report.” 

Erosion of trust

Duggan also noted that the study will examine brands’ exposure to MFA activity, fraud and viewability rates, as well as conduct a waterfall analysis to help participants assess the number of websites their ads are served on. 

When marketers focus on the wrong metrics, such as CTR, it’s easy to game the system
Stephani Estes

The ANA is planning the project as it prepares to host its annual flagship media conference in Orlando, Florida, next week. Here, several keynote sessions will discuss the importance of transparency in ad tech, with sources familiar with the latest benchmarking initiative informing Digiday that it’s an indication of marketers’ loss of faith in the ‘trust but verify’ (later) mindset that currently defines the status quo. 

A separate report this week by Goodway Group identified up to $20 billion of advertisers’ budgets are lost to MFA and ad fraud, with the agency’s chief media officer Stephani Estes noting the importance of benchmarking the correct data points. 

“When marketers focus on the wrong metrics, such as CTR, it’s easy to game the system when you’re measuring meaningless metrics. You need to be able to tie your media metrics to overall marketing to gain the full picture,“ she wrote in the report.

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