Creating digital media accountability through improved governance

March 25th, 2021 | Peter Hanford, Group Director of Digital Growth, Ebiquity Plc

Marker Hand Write Production Planning ControlVolume-based buying power has been the main value proposition of the media agency for the last 50 plus years, and with this, media accountability has been rightly focused on volume-based metrics. However, in the last ten years the industry has witnessed the rise of biddable media trading, replacing a relatively simple media ecosystem. This biddable media system is a complex universe of technology and data, with many objectives, KPIs, buy types, formats, and dynamic auction-based pricing. With this, the value proposition of a media agency has shifted to one of digital capability as a key differentiator. And so digital media accountability must now move away from volume-based metrics to account for this change in dynamic.

The need for a new approach is made obvious by one ghastly phenomenon – advertisers waste up to 60% of their digital media investments due to ineffective governance.

The untapped potential and significant waste make digital optimization a fundamental component of business strategy for global brands across all industries. Traditional cost-based approaches have become less relevant when applied to digital — most brands recognize that a focus on lowering cost drives a race to the bottom, which in turn leads to waste. Advertisers should consider a pivot toward measuring capability and set up a robust digital media governance program to create accountability for their investments.

Key considerations for your digital governance framework

To increase the value of your investments and create accountability with your agency partners, a rules-based structural governance program should be developed. Advertisers often already have a wide variety of principles formed through standards, targets and mandates on what effective trading is supposed to look like for their brand. All this documentation can be used to design your (initial) framework of principles, whilst taking the following seven key points into account:

7 qualities that your digital media governance framework should possess
1. Be applicable across channels and provide high coverage of your spend
2. Have a high degree of comparability, whilst not restricting the media planning process
3. Include hard KPI commitments with key fundamental metrics around ad fraud, brand safety, viewability, etc.
4. Set targets for outputs and outcomes that are actually within the agencies’ control to optimise
5. Allow for assessment within the context of the campaign
6. Be rules-based, with a clearly agreed-upon methodology and rules for exclusion
7. Encourage the right behaviours through best practices

Identify the opportunities for improvement

Once your fundamental governance framework is designed, the principles can be applied across markets to increase the value of your digital media investments. To focus your efforts, advertisers should first identify the key issue areas for their organization and uncover exactly which inefficiencies are driving the greatest amount of waste. Additionally, running this analysis will help you set ambitious, yet realistic, savings targets and in turn inform decision-making to reach those targets.

Realize savings throughout the year

Advertisers should adapt to the dynamics of the digital ecosystem and develop a governance program that is timely to realize productivity throughout the year. Your governance program should be underpinned by cost and quality monitoring – both the quality of your media and the quality of your agency’s trading.

However, any analysis you run is only as good as the data you use. So, to validate and assess digital performance, advertisers have to make sure that the data is accurate, granular and truly reflective of your agencies’ digital capabilities. The right data infrastructure will enable structural monitoring across your governance principles to ensure best practices are adhered to and course-correction can be performed throughout the year.

With digital as the norm, advertisers have to take control and get a grip on the waste in digital media. A robust governance program will cut out 10-30% of the waste in your buying and accelerate your digital capability and transformation.

To help advertisers create accountability, increase value and design their digital media governance program, we are hosting a webinar on Monday April 19, 2021 with the team at RB and Ebiquity’s Digital Innovation Centre. ACA members looking to get the most out of their digital investments should attend. Find out more and register.



Peter Hanford, Group Director of Digital Growth, Ebiquity Plc

Peter is a digital native with 17 years of experience across the digital media ecosystem. As Group Director of Digital Growth at Ebiquity, Peter works on the cutting edge of digital media investment analysis to deliver next-generation solutions for their global clients.

Previously, Peter worked on the publisher, client and agency side, with extensive experience in driving digital media performance for global advertisers. His experience includes designing the global programmatic media buying strategy for brands such as Expedia, MasterCard, Disney and Uber.