Digital advertising is becoming more self-service and transparent -- but also more complicated for marketers tasked with pulling and analyzing multiple sources of data.

In the past handful of years, increasing numbers of ad technology providers have opened up their reporting tools to clients and agencies. And while marketers actively embrace transparency as a good thing, they caution that it also comes with new, time-sucking responsibilities.

The debatable question: Can marketers effectively and efficiently learn to use multiple reporting tools to tap the data and insights previously provided through managed services?

Take It, It's Yours

Just this week, New York City-based PlaceIQ, a provider of location, time and consumer behavior data, announced it was giving media agencies direct access to CIP Analytics, the first component of the company’s Consumer Insights Platform (CIP) suite. Media agencies including Starcom MediaVest Group and MediaCom now have access to CIP Analytics, an interactive campaign results dashboard that provides location intelligence for their brand clients.

CIP Analytics is a post campaign dashboard that connects data such as TV viewership, purchase behavior, automotive ownership and demographic information with PlaceIQ’s location intelligence platform. Used directly by media agencies and brands, the technology provides a visualization of campaign results by leveraging PIaceIQ's proprietary movement data. The result, the company claims, "is a dashboard that offers a window into consumer purchasing patterns, interests and cross-shopping behaviors, which can also inform future media strategy."

Duncan McCall, co-founder and CEO of PlaceIQ, said in a statement that this data is relevant to media strategy, and also has applications "for informing smarter decisions across the entire marketing lifecycle.”

McCall said CIP Analytics is helping PlaceIQ deliver "significantly improved marketing results" to brands and their agency customers, including:

  • Automotive brands that want to know more about consumers’ affinities for competitors
  • Retail brands that want to learn more about a consumer segment
  • Consumer package goods brands that want to learn where their audiences tend to shop

CIP Analytics press release screenshot.jpg

Open Up Please

Last September, Redwood City, Calif.-based Rocket Fuel, an ad tech company that provides artificial intelligence (AI) solutions to agencies and brands, enhanced its platform to provide greater campaign transparency. It added a new feature to its Mission Control platform to provide real time access to campaign reporting and analytics.

The transparency trend stretches all the way back to 2010, when Turn, a company that specializes in developing ad software and digital strategy, partnered with what was then called Better Advertising (now Ghostery) to "advance the transparency and consumer privacy protection that the world’s largest agencies and brands demand."

But the whole notion of transparency remains cloudy, with wide disagreement on how to define it, how to operationalize or how to address it in an increasingly technical — and complicated — marketing and advertising environment.

A survey of 153 client-side marketers last year by the Association of National Advertisers and Forrester found media agency transparency is an industry priority. Nearly half of surveyed advertisers cite concerns about the level of transparency between the client and their media agency(s) as an issue, according to the report. And concerns are growing – 42 percent say concerns about transparency increased over the past year and only 13 percent say concerns decreased.

Advertisers and media agencies are divided over the issue of transparency in media trading. According to a 2012 survey by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) and the Festival of Media, the majority of advertisers (84 percent) said agency trading desks (responsible for buying ad space) are a threat to transparency. However, just 8 percent of agencies agreed.