Can I have a Receipt for That?

Working Together to Address a need for Transparency in Programmatic Advertising

Programmatic advertising is integral to powering premium journalism in a time where keeping informed on important issues is more critical than ever.  Having grown significantly over the past 10 years, this way of buying media is the most flexible and scaled option in existence today being used by the majority of publishers and advertisers around the world. Despite its vast adoption or perhaps because of it, programmatic advertising has been plagued with transparency issues.  With advertisers investing more and more of their media dollars into programmatic environments, transparency has become table stakes for the entire ecosystem.

During IAB Canada’s Community Uninterrupted webinar last week, Brad Jeffrey, Managing Director, Canada at Index Exchange tackled this issue head on. Jeffrey shared his thoughts on how the industry as a whole can craft a more accountable and secure environment across the programmatic landscape to ensure that transactions are easy to verify and that both buyers and publishers are given the full picture when it comes to ad spend.

Earlier this year, the ISBA in the UK teamed up with PWC and released the Programmatic Supply Chain Transparency Study. This study ultimately concluded that 51 cents on every dollar went to working media. But what really caught most of the attention, was that 15% of the visible costs (costs associated with DSP’s or SSP’s) were unaccounted for.

So how do we address this? Jeffrey suggests the following:

  • Everyone in Programmatic needs to work together to create a more accountable and secure environment with transparency always being top of mind.
  • Products that are being created to benefit publishers and drive results for marketers need to have demystified numbers to ensure that publishers know what they are getting, and buyers understand where their dollars are going.
  • Transactions need to be easy to verify so that partners can clearly unpack and inspect the programmatic ecosystem with greater efficiency.
  • We need to collaborate and create common taxonomies that can easily be audited by third parties to ensure that we keep ourselves accountable and do right by our partners.
  • We need platforms to support “always on API’s” where you can retrieve transaction logs – virtual receipts. And these audits can be conducted at any time.

As a part of this effort toward increased transparency, Index Exchange recently announced Client Audit Logs – log level data sets that provide a receipt for every transaction. This receipt empowers both buyers and sellers to gather granular data and insight about every impression served and every bid placed through the exchange. As a result, they can see a breakdown of every dollar spent without any gaps.

Today – this is an exception, but the hope is that it becomes the norm.

Programmatic has the ability to provide receipts, and transactions should be no different than getting a receipt for your coffee. Not making these improvements is a huge miss.

We as an industry have the resilience to navigate today’s market complexities and with added transparency, we can secure the future of this dynamic medium. Everyone needs to come together to make this happen and by doing so, we will come out on the right side of this. IAB Canada shares Jeffrey’s belief in the impact our community can have and we have seen great results when people come together to tackle issues as evidenced in our recent efforts to solve for cookie independence with Project Rearc and the development of a local media database to support the buying of local media. To get more involved with our community please reach out to