In the sea of advertising and media trade headlines, there may have been a smaller one that you missed, but it certainly shouldn’t be overlooked. Last week, Horizon Media announced that it partnered with independent programmatic verification service Ad/Fin.
In the ad tech world there are partnerships announced nearly every day. So why is it significant that an in-house media agency trading desk tied up with a third-partner to measure and verify its programmatic activity?
Three major reasons. First, even if you’ve only been skimming the headlines of ad trade press, you know that the entire ad tech world, and especially the nebulous arena of programmatic (which few people fully understand) has been under increased scrutiny to be more transparent. Industry stalwart Association of National Advertisers (ANA) just released a report that focuses not just on the practices of rebates but also looks at mark-ups, dual rate cards, and other areas where clients do not have a clear idea of how their budgets are being spent.
Second, as industry confidence in the ad tech sector overall has diminished significantly, the fact that one of the largest independent media agencies is taking measurement and verification seriously speaks volumes. For several years, clients have been complaining that programmatic has essentially become a “black box” of sorts, with very little insight into relative value. Horizon/HX’s clients will now have a clearer view into media, data, and technology costs, and programmatic transactions at the impression level. This is a very good thing.
Last, over the past several years large agencies and networks have taken a much larger role in ad tech, in effect disintermediating many SSPs, DSPs, and ad exchanges in the process. Not only does Horizon have its trading desk HX, WPP has Xaxis, Omnicom has Accuen, IPG has Cadreon, and the list goes on and on. Partnering with and tightly integrating measurement and verification vendors only further confirms predictions of wholesale consolidation in ad tech. While this may be great for media and ad agencies, and brand advertisers, it may spell trouble for the hundreds of start-ups in the ad tech ecosystem, trying to make a go of it.
As they say, watch this space.