5 burning programmatic questions with Andrew Altersohn

June 8th, 2017 | Matthew Chung, Manager, Communications and Content

Andrew Altersohn
Andrew Altersohn

Programmatic is fast-becoming the dominant approach to buying digital media but many marketers remain in the dark about how their money is spent. On June 23, Andrew Altersohn, Chief Executive Officer, AD/FIN Solutions, will speak at ACA’s Executive Forum at Corus Quay, sharing results of the study, Programmatic – Seeing Through the Financial Fog. ACA chatted with Altersohn to find out what he’s learnt and what marketers can do to protect their digital investment.

ACA: What is the single most important takeaway for advertisers based on the study and the learnings of your team?

Altersohn: Advertisers need to know their programmatic investments can (and should) be fully accountable, verifiable, measurable and audible. There is no reason for a “black box” in programmatic media. If they want full disclosure, transparency and accountability, they can have it… they just have to follow our recommended steps and demand it.

ACA: What sets this study apart from others that have attempted to quantify the size of the “technology tax?”

Altersohn: Where other programmatic “tech-tax” studies have been based on estimates and anecdotal information about the supply chain, this study took a data-centric approach, processing programmatic transaction data (log files and metadata) for 16 billion transactions across participating advertisers. This is the first study of its kind to retrieve this level of transaction-level detail directly from each Demand Side Platform (DSP) that transacted on behalf of each advertiser, providing an electronic receipt (“programmatic invoice”) for each impression purchased. The resulting analysis provided a first-ever inspection into how advertiser budgets were actually spent along the digital supply chain with insights around costs and fees incurred for media, technology, service and data.

ACA: Once marketers have read the study, what’s the first thing they should do to better protect their programmatic investment?

Altersohn: The first thing to do is to ask yourself a question: “Do I have the transparency and clarity I need to ensure I am getting full value for each programmatic dollar, and can I manage my programmatic investments with the same scrutiny as my other media investments?” If the answer is no…or I’m not sure…then the study provides a very useful Advertiser Playbook that will guide you on the steps to take to get greater accountability. The Playbook will help you establish a transparent programmatic planning and buying model along with the right agreements in place to support your goals.

ACA: The study notes there were numerous hurdles to completing it. Did you learn anything in the process that will assist with future investigations?

Altersohn: Yes, over the 18 months we worked on the study, we faced a range of legal, technical, and bureaucratic hurdles… and as a result, we learned a lot about how to avoid or address them in the future. As you’d expect in today’s environment, it all starts (and can quickly end) with the legal agreement(s) in place between the advertiser and its partners/providers. If that foundation is not set up properly, then the process can come to a very quick halt, as access to transaction-level data and details is typically blocked. But once the proper agreements are in place and roles and responsibilities are clear (recommendations provided in the study), many hurdles are minimized and, if they remain, are typically technical and process oriented. These too can be mitigated based on our learnings, but in the end it comes down to one thing… the advertiser being clear, direct and persistent in its demands for full transparency and accountability.

ACA: What can attendees of your talk on June 23 expect to learn that isn’t contained in this report?

Altersohn: While the report we issued is 20+ pages, there was much we could not fit into the document, so attendees will have the opportunity to hear additional details, but most importantly to ask questions that may not have been addressed directly in the report. In the end, we want advertisers to walk away with clear next steps on how to get greater control and accountability of their programmatic investments.

Andrew Altersohn is speaking at #ACAForum17. Join the discussion on June 23 at Corus Quay.