How To Ask the Tough Questions About Ad Transparency


For too long, digital advertising has been a black box for most ad buyers. An advertiser sets a campaign budget, and all along the way, that budget is chipped away by agency fees, platform fees, data fees, and publisher fees–with little if any insight into where the money is going. But in order for a business to get the most value out of their ad spend, they should be prepared to ask their advertising partners the tough questions to get more transparency. We put together some important questions to ask so you can best navigate your way through the black box.

Can You Break Down the Fees You Charge For Running Programmatic Advertising?

Fees, charges, and markups are charged throughout the advertising industry’s supply chain. With companies running their business with the end goal of making money, it’s inevitable that fees & charges will apply. The problem with these fees is that you might be paying more than what the media is worth. According to one IAB report, “only 45 percent of total programmatic revenue went to publishers.” Rarely do media buyers know how much income the publisher is receiving, and this lack of transparency can cause your ad budget to not go as far as it might otherwise. To help get a handle of typical fees, the IAB created a Programmatic Fee Transparency Calculator to help break down the different vendors that might be charging a fee. That allows advertisers and media buyers to know how their money is spent and how much return on their investment in programmatic technology they will get back. Your advertising partners should be able to break down these fees by vendor type in a very similar way. If they can’t, that can be a red flag that they might be taking more off the top than they should be.

Where Will My Ads Be Running?

When an advertiser sets a budget, unscrupulous agencies and platforms sometimes set out to deliver the most possible impressions for the least amount of money. But when it comes to your brand, you need to ensure you’re getting quality over quantity. You should be asking where your ads will be running, and get a report after a campaign’s conclusion, so you can see exactly what sites and apps and on what devices your campaign ran.

If you’re paying too little for ad placement, it’s likely your ads are running on slow loading pages or next to low-quality content, which can make your brand reputation suffer. Even worse, your ads might be running on sites running fake traffic—meaning your ads won’t ever even be seen by a potential buyer. A transparent partner should be able to answer questions about your ad placement confidently without vague answers.

Do you bake your fees into the campaign’s CPM?

Advertisers will often set a flat CPM for a campaign—say $10 for 1000 impressions. What your platform partners won’t always tell you is that they’re taking $2, $3, or even $4 off the top of that CPM, meaning you’re only actually submitting your bid to the publisher at $6. This can result in lower quality and fewer impressions than it could be if your partners were up-front about the fees they might be taking. Of course, every business has operating costs and needs to make money to stay in business, but there’s no reason they shouldn’t be upfront about those costs, so you can better plan and manage your business costs.

Within the Logiq Digital Marketing Platform, you can be sure that you know exactly where your ad spend is going. Within the platform, you can see exactly how much data segments  and fraud prevention tools cost, and even see bid data. We’re upfront with platform fees, so you won’t ever be surprised by your ad bill. In fact, many of our clients see better performance because of this transparent model. But whether you use LDM or a different platform, getting a clearer picture of where your spend is going will help you run stronger campaigns with real results. Looking to learn more or get a demo of transparency in action? Contact us at [email protected] or schedule a demo here.

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