It's time to 'weed out the bad actors' in ad tech, says AppNexus chief

Pippa Chambers
By Pippa Chambers | 1 March 2018
Tom Shields

To weed out bad practices in the ad tech supply chain, publishers need to keep an eye on the ‘bad actors’ hiding in the corner. If publishers don't pay attention “they’ll stay there for some time”, warns AppNexus US chief strategy officer Tom Shields.

Speaking at the Ashton Media Programmatic Summit in Sydney on the subject of "radical transparency" Shields explained how the market was maturing with how it deals with transparency and is moving into its ‘teens’.

“Radical transparency is an important part of growing up in our industry,” Shields says.

He says transparency helps optimise a complex supply chain and talking to your vendors is key. He stressed that publishers shouldn’t be buying services from people and companies in the supply chain that cannot be transparent about fees and practices, but that many are waking up to this.

While the issue of transparency in the ad tech supply chain very much applies to both advertisers and publishers, his advice was aimed at publishers.

“Are you buying things you shouldn’t be buying?”, is a key question people really need to think about, he says adding that if vendors won’t tell you how much of the ad dollar is going where, they aren’t acting in your interest.

“It’s about who is a good actor and who is a bad actor,” he says.

“You get bad actors hiding in the corners in different places and if you’re not paying attention and you’re not looking to see what’s going on sometimes they can hide there for some time.”

“The point of transparency is for us to be able to take look at the ecosystem, see what’s actually going on and find those areas of inefficiencies, find those areas of bad actors and root them out – and that will make the whole thing more efficient.”

In addition to radical transparency, Shields pointed to other market trends such as header bidding and said the growth in addressable video is “going through the roof”. He says there is value in blockchain, but to be "super wary" about what some parties “claim” to do.

His top takeaways were to get onboard with Ads.txt, be firm on fee transparency and choose partners wisely.

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