Media360 India: The increasing cry for media transparency

Panelists from CNN, Google, GroupM and Hotstar discuss ad fraud, fake news, viewability and more...

Mar 28, 2019 11:23:00 AM | Article | Campaign India Team

Sam Singh, CEO, GroupM, South Asia set the tone for the ‘increasing cry for media transparency’ panel. Also joining him for the panel was Bhaskar Ramesh, head of video and brand advertising, Google, Sunita Rajan, SVP – ad sales, CNN Asia Pacific and Gulshan Verma, SVP and head, clients and agency, Hotstar.
The session began with each of the panelists stating their transparency perspectives.
Rajan said, “When people read and talk about transparency, they have an element of fear. I don’t think it requires that fear, because it’s something we owe to our audiences who are people and not proxies. We owe it to our brand partners too, and get them impact. It’s a topic close to our heart at CNN, and in the world of fake news, transparency is everything.”
Verma added, “Our perspective is straight forward. Clients should know what they’re getting – both from the ad format layout and also from the context of what they’re getting.”
Ramesh’s take was, “We have been investing in it for the last 20 years. It’s fundamental to our business and the way we look at it – marketers’ goals haven’t changed, but the stakes and the environment has changed a lot. We have more to navigate together as a system together.”
Singh then quoted an article which stated that US$ 1.6 billion was spent on ad fraud in India – which is 50 per cent of total digital spends. And then he asked the panelists what are their companies doing regarding that.  
Ramesh said that Google is using a combination of machine learning and human intelligence to tackle this, and have a taskforce of 10,000 people working towards it. He explained, “We took down 2.3 billion ads in 2018, almost 9 million phishing kind of ads were taken down even before they served a single impression. We worked with White Ops and FBI to take down the largest scamming entity with the code name Thrive. We are using a bunch of machine learning classifiers and coupling it with human intelligence to tackle this. I think a broad number is that almost 88 per cent of all take downs are done by machines, but we need an army of people to look at it and then take down fraud. It’s a constant priority for us to tackle and are 100 per cent committed to make the web safer.”
Verma stated that Hotstar’s policy of non-skippable ads has been created to make sure that advertisers are getting value.
“At Hotstar, we say ads will always be 100 per cent viewable. We don’t do skippable ads because we think it’s an important service for marketers who work with us and we have designed our platform around that. We work with a third party provider which tells people whether it was in view, was it viewable for a certain period of time, was it seen by a human being. About the part of it whether it was with the right context for my brand – we’ve chosen to limit what we publish on our platform,” said Verma.
Rajan also stated that CNN is committed towards brand safety by saying, "You can spend a lot of money to invest in technology to be vigilant, and we do that, but there will be the occasional point in time when things slip through. A recent report by Warc stated that brand marketers care much more about brand safety than any other metric in 2019. I think for us as a brand, CNN cares about that and spend time focusing on that.”