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Transparency, Ad Quality and Google.

ad:tech New York is only a few weeks away, and as I mentioned in a previous post, the event is moving back to its roots, into a new venue with a stronger than ever Board of Governors, if I do say so myself.

One of the keynotes will feature yours truly leading a discussion with three leaders in the business as we chat about privacy, transparency and ad quality. I’ve covered off on the agency perspective in my discussion with Rob Norman recently, so I thought I’d give you a sneak peak by sharing another discussion I had with Google’s Scott Spencer.

As I’ve mentioned in my last post, ad:tech is a great place to have a conversation that’s not tethered to an industry organization’s constituency obligated agenda. So, free of the ANA, AAAA and IAB theatre of war, if you will.

My conversation with Scott started with defining the role he has at Google. Google is one of the few (only?) companies that can afford hyper-specialists.

Scott is responsible for sustainable ads at Google. In case you need Google speak translated into advertising speak, that means focusing on the relationship between ads and content, draining the ad spam swamp (see what I did there?), looking at sensible approaches to the ad blocking problem and building ad models that will stand the test of time.

Google’s goals in the sustainable ad environment are pretty straightforward. In order to achieve ad success Zen, following the ad experience to the desired action is paramount to understanding ways of creating a long-term ad framework. That’s a wonderful world in which to live, but there are challenges. The business has yet to agree on viewability standards. That’s a problem when people are blocking ads and ad quality is in question.

In the recent past, the mostly underinformed media attacked Google and other networks (or sites) by pointing out that some ads are appearing near or around objectionable content. What constitutes objectionable is subjective and one man’s objectionable is another man’s target audience. I’ll get into this a bit more at the event, so you’ll just have to attend if you want to hear that unfold.

Some advertisers reacted to the media blitz by adding resources to weed out content, while others chose to be judge and jury in deciding what is and is not acceptable. This is a slippery slope, but Scott pointed out a notion very few seem to grasp; you don’t have to censor the content, you can just avoid monetizing it. In other words, give advertisers the choice to decide what is appropriate for them.

You can’t have an ad quality or viewability discussion without touching on the all too touchy subject of agency compensation transparency. Our conversation was succinct yet revelatory. In my opinion, the incentive for a sitting CMO to illustrate to her CEO how an agency might be ripping them off is minimal because said CMO would be ipso facto shining a light on her incompetence. In the end, Scott pointed out something we in the agency world know all too well; selecting an agency is a choice and a brand can exercise their right to choose as they see fit.

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