The Meaning of Transparency in Today’s Digital Marketing Landscape


Transparency is a term used so often in advertising today, its meaning has almost been diluted. It can mean so many things—full disclosure of fees and pricing structure, how media is bought, of who is operating things on the back-end. The truth is, transparency means different things for different people, whether you’re a marketer (including agencies), publisher or consumer. We outline some of the definitions below.


  • Marketers: In the age of Google and Facebook, transparency for marketers starts with a full view into their audiences and insights. Marketers using walled-garden platforms are subject not only to a lack of ownership over their data and analytics, but also the threat of these platforms “grading their own homework” and providing inaccurate or incomplete measurement. Marketers should have full transparency into the different kinds of data being used for their media buying, who owns what, how they can use that data (for instance, some platforms allow log-level access to data that marketers can analyze themselves) and the process by which they can extract insights for use across other platforms.

  • Publishers: Publishers are in it to win it with marketers, and must have transparency into advertiser objectives to align the ad environment towards shared goals. They need transparency to data up and down the value chain, and to be considered on equal level to marketers and consumers.

  • Consumers: The GDPR and California’s new privacy law demonstrate that consumers want to be respected. Transparency for them means understanding how their data might be used for advertising purposes, and knowing their options for not having their data used. The shape of this consent will look different depending on where consumers are in the world, but even ensuring it’s in your website privacy policy is one step towards being more forthcoming about your practices.


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