How much of brands’ digital ad spend is simply wasted? That’s the question Bob Liodice wants an answer to.

In April, the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), of which Liodice is CEO, issued a call seeking a consultant to conduct a study to help the organization understand how much actual spend is siphoned off in assorted fees.

In this video interview with Beet.TV, Liodice and O’Connell use the language of military strategy to discuss the “information asymmetry” and “unknowables” at the heart of the industry.

‘Seat of our pants’

ANA’s interest was sparked by a report by ISBA, the trade body for UK advertisers, the Association of Online Publishers (AOP) and auditor PwC, which found 15% of advertiser spend could not be attributed, whilst publishers receive only 51% of advertiser spend on average.

The figures were described as “mind-boggling” – especially several years after earlier industry reports first raised the problems around “ad tax” and transparency.

“The ad tech community is probably the least understood within the purview of brands and marketers,” Liodice says.

“It’s extraordinarily complex. There are billions of transactions that happen second by second, there are an incredible amount of handoffs and deals that take place between buyers and sellers, between SSPs and DSPs.

“The ad tech community knows a hell of a lot about what’s going on, they understand data flows, money flows – and the marketers pretty much do not. A lot of times, brands are flying by the seat of their pants.”

‘Almost opaque’

The problem, Liodice says, is “you don’t know what you don’t know”. He describes the “lack of information that we have to be able to make these decisions and optimise” as “almost opaque for us”.

That, in a programmatic world, is a far cry from history, when marketers had far more certainty about where fewer ads ran, in fewer destinations.

O’Connell and Liodice both hope a byproduct of the new focus on consumer privacy will be a cleaner, simpler and more transparent ad supply chain.

“Particularly now, as Google is deprecating its cookies and Apple is changing its IDFA policies, the marketers are essentially in the dark,” Liodice says.

This video is part of the Global Forum on Responsible Media produced by Beet.TV, GroupM with the 4A’s. This track on data, identity and a transparent supply chain is sponsored by MediaMath. For more videos on this topic, visit this page.