Don’t underestimate the clout of unified advertiser pressure
Once upon a time, “walled gardens” brought with them visions of splendid, sun-drenched, hedge-lined gardens set against the historic castles of Britain or conjured scenes in our minds from Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic English children’s novel, “Secret Garden.”
Today, the ad industry paints a very different picture of walled gardens, otherwise known as closed ecosystems, and laments about the lack of transparency in a place where platform owners have control over applications, content, and media, while restricting easy access to content and applications that they don’t approve of.
At the Advertising Research Foundation’s (ARF) AUDIENCExSCIENCE event last month, Scott McDonald, President-CEO highlighted the need for unified, autonomous, third-party measurement across the advertising ecosystem to attain a holistic view of the consumer across all channels, with full transparency, accountability and unduplicated reach metrics. McDonald said that if these big walled-garden players would, for the common good, support unified third-party measurement, the whole industry would benefit from much more comprehensive measurement of media and advertising exposures. He’s right.
We recently commissioned a study that found that marketers’ #1 concern is the inability to effectively measure cross-channel. Evolving from walled gardens to an open framework for data is the only way to guarantee that all channels can be measured and allow marketers to have a complete view of how Marketing decision-making impacts behavior.
The walled gardens are hindering cross-channel advertising because they remain a locked black box. No matter how much money brands pour into them, everything is still a deep, dark secret that we cannot unravel. Why do those with the power to create change, accept this? Advertisers invest billions of dollars into walled gardens and have the muscle to exert pressure companies like Amazon, Netflix, Facebook and Google to cooperate in cross-platform measurement. Brand leaders can flex their wallets and aptly argue that transparency can’t happen with walled gardens and demand a scalable, cross-channel solution and better access to data and portability. All while, importantly, ensuring that safeguards are implemented to protect the end user via privacy, consent, data provenance and verification.
In determining how to best execute on true cross-channel measurement, I think mobile should be the catalyst of the new Marketing infrastructure. Why? Because mobile sits at the core of 1:1 Marketing, and, by design, allows us to put the user at the center. By beginning with mobile measurement, you can then expand across all channels effectively, with the right framework in place. What’s more, mobile can be controlled, and is privacy compliant, which means it can ensure there is a proper value exchange created between the marketer and the consumer.
Regardless of how we decide independent cross-channel measurement will look like, it’s clear that marketers need a holistic picture of their efforts in order to understand and impact consumers’ lifetime value (LTV), which is imperative to take multi-touch attribution (MTA) to the next level.
As an immediate next step, ARF’s McDonald encourages marketers to support standards, such as those advanced by CIMM and the IAB Tech Lab, who are devising workarounds to fill in the blind spots in measurement. Those organizations have made great strides in measurement despite the hurdles of black boxes.
But to truly create change, advertisers hold the key to walled gardens cooperating to create independent, third party cross-platform measurement. Until then, we’re locked out of their splendid, sun-drenched, hedge-lined gardens and are missing huge pieces of information that would better inform and perhaps completely transform our Marketing strategies and tactics.