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The Festival By The Sea

The festival by the sea graced us last week—but it didn’t exactly follow the planned schedule of glitz and yachts and the Snapchat Ferris wheel.

Instead, we saw a breaking point among publishers and advertisers fed up with ad tech’s slow approach to clean up fraud, set industry standards, and guarantee brand safety.

The discontent runs so deep that Index Exchange’s CEO predicted a “seismic shift” in digital marketing and called on ad tech to “take responsibility” in a kick-off column to Cannes.

He wasn’t alone. Throughout the week, other major advertisers and publishers spoke frankly about ad tech. Here are some sound bites:

  • “The media supply chain is so murky and non-transparent, and so wasteful and even fraudulent – we’re wasting huge amounts of money.” – P&G’s Marc Pritchard
  • “The world of digital advertising is a nightmarish joke… There are all sorts of creepy, borderline fraudulent middlemen, this thicket of strange companies, tracking pixels on everything. You couldn’t think of a more dangerous environment for a brand.” – The New York Times’s Mark Thompson
  • “The cheapest media is on the lousy sites. You get what you pay for. If it’s too good to be true it probably is.” – Unilever’s Keith Weed
  • “But in this age, utterly dominated by content distributors - the duopoly - at the expense of content creators - news organizations like ours - it is fair to say that the World Wide Web has not evolved in the manner that most civilised individuals had hoped, say, 15 years ago.” – News Corp’s Robert Thomson

I don’t know about you, but I’d be sweating if the world’s largest advertisers and publishers were speaking like that about my company.

Ad tech players should consider this a formal warning to clean up their act or move aside. Publishers and advertisers are united on what the future of advertising should be, and companies that can provide brand safe environments, third-party verification, and viewability assurances are already two steps ahead of the duopoly.

By Joshua Schnell

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