Hitting Reset On The Digital Marketing Industry

November 2nd, 2017 | Matthew Chung, Manager, Communications and Content


Recently, Jason Kint and his team at Digital Content Next (DCN) had an epiphany. With the digital marketing industry growing at lightning speed, they realized industry needed to move fast if it was going to tackle inherent issues like bot fraud and transparency. Ahead of his presentation at ACA’s Fall 2017 Executive Forum, Kint, CEO of DCN, spoke with ACA about TrustX, a marketplace DCN created with the singular goal of increasing trust and transparency for marketers, consumer and publishers.

ACA: Can you tell us a bit about the genesis of TrustX? Why was it needed now?

Jason Kint: The gap between the promise of programmatic advertising and reality has reached a tipping point. It is widely agreed that for every dollar of advertising investment, only 30 to 40 cents actually funds working media. The lion’s share disappears through fraud, non-viewable ads, ad-supported fake news and the complicated, opaque digital supply-chain. Trust in what we’ve called “blind programmatic,” where advertisers don’t know where their investment or ads are running, is at an all-time low.

The principals in content and advertising — publishers and advertisers — have come to realize that programmatic advertising, left alone, will simply implode as intermediaries seeking to maximize profit in an opaque supply chain take value from the end points. In an effort to hit the reset button and to create the conditions that will reverse this troubling trend, the premium publisher community decided to take action. And that action was to create a totally clean, trusted programmatic marketplace that, by its very design, would demonstrate the promise of programmatic, and act as a catalyst for the rebuilding of trusted programmatic advertising at scale. That marketplace is TrustX.

ACA: How will TrustX evolve in the coming months?

Jason Kint: TrustX opened the doors to private beta participants in May 2017, and is just months away from launching version 1.0 of the marketplace. We’ve been assertively adding supply — ramping up from a half-dozen beta publishers to roughly two dozen before the 2017 holiday crunch and 35 before the end of the year. Doing so establishes an incredible depth and diversity of inventory in 100% trusted, premium content environments. Concurrently, TrustX is on-boarding demand through nearly every major agency holding company and a roster that includes many of the world’s most trusted names in advertising. Together, this group of advertisers, agencies and publishers will seek to demonstrate the economic benefits of a fully-transparent, trusted programmatic marketplace. From there, TrustX will create a safe place for these marketplace participants to experiment with new measurement models, improved ad units that engage consumers in a less interruptive manner, and other ways to close the gap between programmatic advertising’s promise and delivery. TrustX’s purpose is to build the sustainable future of trusted advertising. The marketplace and its participants will be laser focused on fulfilling that promise.

See More at trustx.org and in this video interview.

ACA: Marketers are dealing with a lot in the digital space. On the one side, there’s the lack of transparency in programmatic, brand safety issues and ad fraud eroding their media spend. On the other, a group of consumers are choosing to tune out by installing adblockers. How much responsibility does the advertiser bear for this? And what can they do to fix the situation?

Jason Kint: The marketers, and their agencies, have considerable responsibility, as do the publishers. Put simply, an opaque supply chain without proper management and agency will seek to maximize its own profits whether through revenue or data capture. Many ad tech companies have been doing this for years as they attempt to reach the lofty goals of their investors. This ultimately reduces social welfare for the two end points – advertisers and consumers – and reduces trust in the entire digital environment.

All of these issues are very much related. They are symptoms of a breakdown in trust due to the move toward automation without proper policies, contracts and education to align with consumer trust. We’ve been actively calling out our concerns since 2014. If environment and quality aren’t properly valued and understood, business models will seek the cheapest direct marketing and performance models possible rather than investing in building brands, desire and demand.

This is where we are. I’m deeply encouraged by the early efforts of publishers, marketers and many agencies to have the difficult conversations and begin to take action to build a more sustainable future for trusted content and advertising.

Jason KintA 20-year veteran of the digital media industry, Jason Kint is focused on guiding DCN’s diverse and powerful group of members — from established media brands such as The New York Times, NBC, Condé Nast and ESPN, to digital natives, such as Vox, Slate and Business Insider — into the future and on setting the agenda for discussions on issues ranging from net neutrality to revenue innovation to privacy.

Hear from Kint and other leaders trying to increase accountability and transparency in the digital supply chain on November 7 at ACA’s Fall 2017 Executive Forum – Digital Redemption: Regaining Faith In Media Accountability.