Independent buy-side advertising platform Sizmek has today stated it will offer “full transparency” into the cost of ads marketers are buying with the company.

Sizmek says it will now offer transparent pricing across its media, creative, data, technology and service related costs – as well as offering detailed information into the workings of its “AI-enabled” platform – in a bid to “set a new standard” in an industry known for “hidden pricing and selective access”.

The announcement follows a year of dwindling trust among ad buyers over where their money is going and how much return is generated, with one in five UK brands planning to reduce programmatic ad spend in 2018; It also comes just four months after the $125.5 acquisition of Rocket Fuel, which while known for its performance, was acknowledged by the purchaser as operating with “an opaque transaction model, as many others have”.

Black box practices

The development is intended to put an end to the “difficult trade-off” between transparency, control and performance that agencies and advertisers were forced to make in the past. According to Sizmek, buyers had to choose between working with non-transparent providers who delivered impressive results or working with more transparent providers offering lesser results.

“The industry has spoken and Sizmek has reacted,” commented the company’s CEO, Mark Grether, “Agencies and advertisers are demanding greater visibility and control. They want their partners to move away from black box practices which hide true campaign costs and weaken confidence that media investments impact results.”

“There’s no question that agencies and advertisers value AI-driven insights, but they want full visibility in the process. That’s why we’ve decided to lead the industry with AI-powered recommendations for traders and AI-powered optimisation across the entire media plan offered with full transparency.”

A recent study from the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) found that 90% of advertisers review programmatic ad contracts specifically looking for providers who offer greater transparency. The study further revealed by offering greater transparency into the fully loaded cost of a media plan, agencies felt they could better evaluate and communicate ROI to their clients.

“With an increased emphasis on trust and transparency in our industry, having a clear view into overall costs drives confidence and demand,” said Andrew Casale, President & CEO at Index Exchange, “Every piece of the ecosystem has a role to play in ensuring transparency is the standard”.