The WFA Media Charter – Advertisers Rise Up and Be Brave!

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John Partridge

Written by John Partridge & Oliver Orchard

The WFA recently published a Global Media Charter covering 8 principles for partnership. It is a bringing together of those areas most dear to the hearts of digital advertisers; the areas that they feel are currently the most under-serviced. The work the WFA have put into this initiative is clearly deep, and to be applauded, but the document starts by saying it’s not supposed to solve all of the key issues, but why stop at just identifying them? The advertisers are the key investors into digital media (through agencies with vested interests in keeping things opaque), and should expect better of their suppliers, agencies, publishers and agency-owned buy side platforms. So here is our call to advertisers – rise up, be brave, and start the revolution.

The Principles identified by the WFA are as follows, and we’ll touch on most of them in this article:

  1. Zero tolerance to Ad Fraud with compensation for any breach
  2. Strict Brand Safety protection
  3. Minimum Viewability thresholds
  4. Transparency throughout the supply-chain
  5. Third-party verification and measurement as a basic
  6. Addressing ‘walled garden’ issues
  7. Improving standards with data transparency
  8. Improving the user experience

The key to most of these lies in two core areas – the contract held with the media agency and the Insertion Orders (IO) used to place the media. Principles one through seven above can ALL be addressed by getting these critical documents correct and fit for purpose.

We’ve seen examples where well stewarded media buys are already achieving best-in-class results thanks to:

  1. Having the IO buttoned up, with a statement of expectations and full compensation for any under delivery
  2. Having the correct third-party verification tech plugged into the process
  3. Having a regular (quarterly) digital audit to track delivery and fraud factors, as well as the relevant make-goods

The IO should focus on the five main areas, and ensure that provisions for compensation is provided:

  1. Geo serving/out of market placements which can be local regional or pan country
  2. Bot fraud/non-human/invalid traffic
  3. Brand safety
  4. Viewability (guidelines are set by the MRC but they’re too weak)
  5. Delivery e.g. “Media Company must deliver impressions or clicks evenly over the term of the campaign and within 10% of the projected average daily delivery targets, unless Agency provides specific delivery instructions in writing which should be pre-approved by the client.”  

There is of course a cost factor in these steps, which many advertisers may shy away from, but please see it as throwing good money after bad, that acceptance of wastage is exactly why the industry resists calls to clear up its act. Why should an arms-length Demand Side Platform (DSP), set up by the Holding Company as a convenient walled garden to shield the Agencies margin be allowed to hide behind “the DSP won’t reveal the publisher’s rates”. This should not be treated differently to any other part of the agency relationship? This is where we recommend that you be brave, there is no reason other than advertisers unintentionally allowing it to happen. Agencies often make this whole area more complicated and confusing than it is.

We call on advertisers everywhere to be brave, be prepared to vote with your money, demand transparency, demand 100% in-Geo placement, demand human only traffic and make sure your IO allows for compensation when you don’t get what you approved. Where else would you accept less than was paid for?

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