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“Stop spending money on Google and Facebook”

Transparency and brand safety: two buzzwords that have been spurring industry transformation over the past few years. It’s hard not to think about trust – an even more endemic issue – when talking about the two.

At The Drum’s Programmatic Punch APAC, our Asia editor Charlotte McEleny spoke to Penny Langenfeld, director, programmatic sales, SEA, Double Verify; Sanchit Sanga, general partner & independent digital advisor, Quorev; and Kabeer Chaudhary, managing partner, APAC, M&C Saatchi Performance about transparency, brand safety and the related issues facing advertisers.

Trust issues

Langenfeld firmly believes that there is currently a trust issue and that as the industry continues to fragment that problem will become more acute: “People don’t know who to believe. And that’s why companies like DoubleVerify exist to try and help provide more transparency and help build that trust for brands and for agencies.”

Trust is a process, add Sanga and Chaudhary, and the larger players are slowly aiding progress.

“It’s a journey”, says Chaudhary. “Even in the traditional medium, if you bought an ad and you verified it 10 times, probably the fiftieth time you will say, ‘okay, I trust this guy’. And especially in the digital medium where it’s so dynamic and it’s so real-time you need verification partners such as DoubleVerify or IAS to actually help you gain that trust. Without that verification layer, what are we talking about?”

Not every player can be tarred with the same brush. Some companies are transparent, but on the whole, it does feel like the industry is untrustworthy, particularly from the brand’s point of view. So how can the good actors in the industry distinguish themselves from the bad?

Sanga believes that if you practice the right things, and move away from the commission-based model to a manpower FTE model, brands will trust you much more readily.

He explained: “That simplifies the value chain and all the dodgy stuff that goes on. It becomes clarified and their perception of you as a service provider becomes cleaner.”

Coming together

The panel was asked how the industry can come together on brand safety and transparency in terms of regulation.

Chaudhary insists that there needs to be stricter regulation. “Something which comes from industry bodies which are not there to make money, not from Facebook and Google. There needs to be regulation which comes out from the likes of IAB released Digital Audio Ad Serving Template. It’s not a regulation, it’s a recommendation, but it definitely takes the industry in a forward direction.”