NEW YORK: Marketers are making “select areas of progress” in tackling the problems facing the digital ecosystem, but room for further change remains, according to Bob Liodice, President/CEO of the Association of National Advertisers (ANA).

Speaking in an interview for WARC’s Toolkit 2018, Liodice discussed how the industry has responded to pressing digital concerns such as non-transparent business practices, bot fraud, and egregious ad formats.

“There are select areas of progress,” he asserted. (For more details, read WARC’s in-depth report: ANA’s Liodice sees points of progress in cleaning up the digital ecosystem.)

“It hasn’t been universal or as widespread as one would like, but I am happy to say that … the progress is coming in stages, and is permeating across almost everything that is done in the digital arena.”

Elaborating on this theme, Liodice cited the “first anniversary” of the ANA’s transparency study with K2 Intelligence as an indicator that many of the industry group’s members were prompted to take action by the findings of this exposé.

“We found out that 60% of the members that had read the report had actually done something,” said Liodice, with updated contracts and audit-right provisions among the main changes instituted by these enterprises.

Such recalibrations represent an essential corrective as brand custodians have, too often, let themselves become distracted by emergent technologies.

“Unfortunately, what’s been happening in the past few years is we have been largely enamored with the shiny objects and paying less attention to the fundamental request, which is for marketers to be able to build brands, and to be able to drive business results,” Liodice said.

“With that being said, we have been working with our marketer community to look at the broad portfolio of areas of emphasis that need to take place across our ecosystem that will facilitate that growth.”

Liodice referenced some concrete examples of major marketers that have blended heightened digital savvy with robust fiscal results.

One saw JPMorgan Chase & Co., the financial-services provider, slashing the number of websites hosting its ads due to brand-safety concerns without hurting business performance.

Procter & Gamble, the consumer goods giant, cut its digital adspend by more than $100m for similar reasons, and logged sales growth while reducing these costs.

“More and more of these things will need to take place,” said Liodice. “It’s sluggish, but it’s progress being made, thank you very much. And we do expect to see a lot more.”

Sourced from WARC