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Building towards greater transparency in media buying

For digital advertising to remain an economic engine for businesses large and small, our industry needs to bring greater transparency to the media-buying process and put an end to hidden fees. According to Integral Ad Science, 42% of marketers surveyed said transparency is a primary challenge with programmatic buying today. Everyone who participates in digital advertising should pay attention to this trend. Lack of fee transparency breeds mistrust and impacts marketer confidence.

While we’re making progress as an industry, it’s time to move beyond moment-in-time studies to accountability and systemic change to strengthen trust in digital advertising. That’s why we’re expanding Confirming Gross Revenue to more publishers and buyers, as well as working with others in the industry to help the ecosystem verify that hidden fees haven’t been taken.

Expanding Confirming Gross Revenue

Unlike other companies in ad tech, Google’s advertising platforms don’t take hidden fees. But don’t just take our word for it. Last year, we introduced Confirming Gross Revenue, a tool that gives buyers and publishers the ability to verify for themselves that hidden fees haven’t been taken from digital advertising transactions when using Google Ad Manager — while respecting people’s privacy. We’ve since tested the solution with dozens of partners, including publishers such as Raptive and Prisma Media and buyers such as OMG and Jellyfish. Along the way, we’ve incorporated feedback from our partners into the product.

We’re now making Confirming Gross Revenue available to all publishers using Ad Manager 360 and to all advertisers and agencies using Display & Video 360. We’re also working on expanding integrations to the ecosystem of ad tech providers that are interoperable with our tools, including demand-side platforms such as Yahoo and sell-side platforms such as Index Exchange. Their partnership will help shape this new solution in ways that work for others in the industry — improving trust in programmatic buying for everyone.

“Transparency is a cornerstone of Yahoo Advertising’s business, and we continue to build partnerships that support our leadership in this effort. By integrating with Confirming Gross Revenue, Yahoo is rising to the industry demand for greater transparency in the buying process and providing clarity on media spend.” – Adam Roodman, SVP Ads Product & Strategy, Yahoo

"Confirming Gross Revenue is a step in the right direction for transparency in the digital advertising ecosystem. The reporting functionality answers calls from our clients for greater assurance that there aren’t hidden fees in the supply path. As a leading advocate for transparency, we look forward to working with Google and the industry to drive adoption of the tool and instill greater trust in media buying today." – Charlie Cebuhar, Sr Director Programmatic COE, OMG

“Unattributable ad spend identified in studies of the programmatic supply chain is worrying. Using Google’s Confirming Gross Revenue, Prisma Media and Jellyfish were able to demonstrate there weren’t hidden fees in our programmatic campaigns.” – Paul Ripart, Head of Programmatic Sales and Data, Prisma Media

Visibility into media costs, while upholding privacy

Protecting people’s privacy and the contractual confidentiality of our partners is foundational to our approach. That’s why Confirming Gross Revenue only uses the data needed to confirm hidden fees haven’t been taken. The new report provides customers with the ability to verify that the media cost from the buyer matches the gross revenue the publisher received. It also enables buyers and publishers to verify that the fees they were charged match their agreed upon rates with the demand-side platform and sell-side platform, respectively.

By relying on aggregate gross revenue amounts, rather than combining granular log-level data, the tool reduces the risk of user identification. Additionally, publishers and buyers can easily verify there aren’t hidden fees in a single report, without high data storage and processing costs.

An illustration of buyers and publishers using Confirming Gross Revenue to verify no hidden fees

Working with others to raise the bar on trust

Confirming Gross Revenue is designed to be an industry solution. Any demand-side platform or sell-side platform can implement the tool to help their customers confirm there aren’t hidden fees within their advertising platforms. As a next step to standardize the flow, we are working with industry organizations like the IAB Tech Lab. For years, Google has participated in industry transparency standards, like ads.txt / app-ads.txt, sellers.json and SupplyChain Object. We look forward to helping shape future frameworks alongside the industry.

Building towards a more transparent future

Confirming Gross Revenue builds on years of work to give businesses and people greater visibility into digital advertising. This includes steps we’ve taken to simplify our platforms, explain our fee structure and shape industry standards. Earlier this year, we introduced the Ads Transparency Center to help people easily learn more about the ads people see from Google. Last fall, we launched My Ad Center, our user-centric way to help people control the ads they see online — directly from the ads themselves.

Raising the bar on trust in digital advertising is something everyone must work on together. We will continue to work with the industry on a path to greater transparency to help inform buying decisions, strengthen fraud detection and improve overall transparency in digital advertising.