Transparency is a key word at a time when an ever-growing number of companies are more aware of issues arising from their adverts being displayed where they don’t want them to be.

Many companies are taking a strong stand to improve transparency review; such as P&G reviewing all its agency contracts this year to bring transparency to the often inefficient and fraudulent media supply chain.

Full transparency is key for advertisers to build their trust with publishers. To learn more about the quality of media, building trust and brand safety, we caught up with Criteo’s MD Northern Europe, John Gillan.

John, what are your views on the current state of transparency in the media supply chain?

John Gillan: With the soaring rise of smartphones and consumer technology services, safeguarding data privacy and security to maintain the trust of consumers is at the forefront of sustainable growth and continued innovation within the media industry. At the same time, consumers expect easy and relevant, personalised experiences with brands, which in turn requires the use of marketing data.

When brands choose Criteo to drive sales for their businesses, we know they are entrusting us to protect and treat their information with respect. It is our job to provide relevant ads that enhance the online experience while providing consumers with transparency and control over the ads they receive. We take this responsibility very seriously and continually innovate to safeguard privacy and security while responding to consumer expectations on transparency and choice.

Key to this is giving shoppers transparency and control is good for every participant in the digital marketplace. All shoppers have a right to understand why and how they are receiving the ads that they do in order to make informed decisions about their browsing experiences.

Do you think the quality of programmatic advertising has seen much improvement? If not, what more could be done?

JG: Yes, as technology has advanced, so have the solutions. Today, we can source more data on individuals than ever before, but this comes with a tremendous responsibility to use that information transparently and intelligently. The more data marketers have at their fingertips; the more personalised, relevant and targeted ads are becoming. Programmatic now allows you to test and learn and find the content that works best for each individual shopper – and it can be done in a far more scalable fashion across the multiple devices used by shoppers.

And what is your role in ensuring the quality of media content that comes through for your customers?

JG: Our success is based on relevant, accountable and seamless marketing. We believe in a data-driven, people-centric approach. This means treating shoppers’ and brands’ information with respect. It is our responsibility to provide relevant, non-intrusive ads that enhance the shopper experience at all touchpoints.

What’s more, the advances of our clients rest on maintaining absolute trust in the consumer-brand relationship and on treating consumers as data owners and active participants in the digital data transaction.

As a company built on maintaining consumer trust and delivering relevance, we view it as our responsibility to stay ahead of the privacy curve and take a leadership role in shaping a global approach to consumer privacy. We are extremely proud of our excellent reputation among consumers, brands and publishers as a company committed to positive, relevant and secure online experiences.

From an industry perspective, we are also very proud of the work of our Global Privacy Officer, Estelle Werth. In her role as Secretary of the National Advertising Initiative Board, she has crafted policies and guidelines that ensure responsible data collection and usage practices for new technology offerings across the industry.

We are well positioned to help marketers transition to this future and finally make all advertising work. Consumer choices need to be effective to be meaningful and Criteo has gone the extra mile to make sure its technology supports choices that make sense to consumers.

What part does Criteo play in building trust in its programmatic technology?

JG: Criteo’s goal has always been to ensure a brand safe environment for our thousands of advertising clients worldwide, where we have both internal and external solutions in place. Last year, we partnered with Integral Ad Science to provide our clients with access to the value of every ad opportunity. This transparency ensures that their ads only appear on appropriate, brand-safe publisher sites.

We are committed to an environment that protects the brand integrity of our clients and therefore have in place a robust blacklist and whitelist process that enforces our brand safety guidelines. We remain committed to ensuring that no sites in our network violate our guidelines and we review them on a continuous basis to uphold our standards.

Criteo Privacy by Design preserves customer trust at all times and means brands can enjoy superior performance from technology that protects and respects customer data and privacy.

Do you think programmatic advertising should be regulated by third parties?

JG: We work with multiple industry bodies such as the Network Advertising Initiative and JICWEBS Digital Trading Standards and auditors including ABC to ensure that our solutions are held up to the strictest standards. We are also members of the Trustworthy Accountability Group and the Internet Advertising Bureau where we are actively involved in the ads.txt development, which enables publishers to list their authorised digital sellers.  

These initiatives are important but ultimately, the responsibility sits with the technology providers, publishers and brands to work together and take a collective responsibility for the standards of their collective efforts.

Finally, can brands’ safety ever be guaranteed along the media supply chain?

JG: We all know that the online advertising industry faces the ongoing challenge of mitigating the risk of misplacement of display advertising. Criteo takes this challenge very seriously and has a range of processes in place to ensure the safety and quality of media buying.

The industry has taken huge strides, particularly in recent years but there will always be work to be done. Maintaining trust and shopper confidence through robust privacy measures is vital to the ongoing success of performance marketing and the industry.