An investigation into data reporting by 10 of the largest players in programmatic advertising responsible for more than $84 billion in revenues found them all lacking in providing adequate data to media companies.
The report by Ad-juster, which provides SaaS-based data integration for more than 100 of the largest media companies, establishes a basic Minimum Viable Reporting (MVR) metric which represents the publishers' ability to get at the data they need.
MVR relates to the total number of fields or categories that are offered through APIs. It doesn't measure ad performance or revenues but MVR data allows publishers to make those measurements.
Google, AppNexus, and Rubicon topped the list of ten but that doesn't mean they did well.
"We set a very low bar with this report; all of these ten giants need to do a lot better in with their data reports," says Dan Lawton, Chief Marketing Officer at Ad-juster. "Publishers need the data to know which partners they should they be working with, which ones perform best, etc. They've been kept in the dark for too long."
Programmatic ad data is problematic because of the lack of standards and limited APIs. With better access to better data, publishers can improve revenues and improve their business strategies. It can also help combat ad fraud problems and stabilize revenue streams.
Lawton said that "clawbacks" in ad revenue earned by publishers are commonplace and they are problematic because the publishers don't know about them. If an advertiser detects suspicious traffic it can "clawback" a percentage of the ad revenue it would have paid to the publisher. The publisher receives ad revenue but with little reporting data it doesn't know about the clawback and can't fix any potential problems with traffic quality.
"With the large number of media clients we see ourselves as advocates for the media industry and we can get better terms of publishers," says Lawton.
Between the publisher and the Brand advertiser there are many ad networks and middlemen services which further complicates data reporting. This data transparency issue is also a problem with large brands complaining they can't get the customer data they need from the big advertising platforms and media buying agencies. It is why large advertisers are bringing their programmatic media buying in-house so that they can capture their own customer data.
"Publishers want real-time data and they'll choose partners that meet those types of data reporting requirements," says Lawton.
Several of the companies in the report have already asked how they can improve their scores for the next report which will be published at six-month intervals.
Lawton warns, "Those companies that won't provide the reporting data will go extinct."