It is always surprising at the lack of transparency some advertisers provide to publishers, particularly when discrepancies occur. How are the two parties supposed to resolve issues when the party who announces it only says there is a problem and we need to solve it but they will not provide any further details? The other party is left completely in the dark, relegated to a wild goose chase to try to discover what the other party is talking about.

One of the mantras of programmatic buying is transparency, allowing a buyer to have as much information as possible about the inventory they are bidding on. The belief is that if a buyer knows and understands where they are purchasing ad space then there will be less ambiguity and they will feel more comfortable and confident in their buying decisions.

Unfortunately, this same level of transparency does not always flow both ways. Some advertisers are extremely transparent in their operations and reporting, while other partners continue to hold their cards close to their chest without providing much insight. These partners demand greater levels of transparency from the ad requests they receive, yet refuse to provide the same level of transparency on the other side. It is little surprise that advertisers who provide greater transparency have stronger relationships and fewer problems with their publishing partners.

The advertising industry has long existed within an atmosphere of secrecy and back room deals. It is has been said that it is a huge industry with few people. In other words it is who you know. Online advertising has slowly been pulling the industry out of the dark and shining more light on it. Programmatic buying is just one example of the evolution, but the industry as a whole still has a long way to go.

When discrepancies arise, many large advertiser still pull their weight and call the shots rather than working with the publisher to resolve the issue and foster a stronger relationship. Instead, what ends up resulting many times is a greater level of mistrust and suspicion. Publishers walk away with the belief that the advertisers will do whatever they can to protect their profits and that the publisher is just another cog in their wheel which can be easily replaced.

Trust is an essential ingredient of any successful business relationship and it needs to go both ways. The online advertising industry is forging ahead at break neck pace but the need for cooperation and transparency from both sides needs to keep up and it many cases it has not been. Advertisers and publishers both need to realize that they cannot demand complete transparency from the other yet not provide the same concession from their side. Complete transparency will create a stronger and  healthier online advertising environment for everyone.