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Cross Industry Programmatic Taskforce announces strategy to achieve financial audit transparency for programmatic advertising

Published: 23 Feb 2022

23 FEBRUARY, LONDON: The Cross Industry Programmatic Taskforce (the Taskforce), representing advertisers, publishers, ad tech vendors and agencies, has today released the first set of outputs to address the lack of transparency in the programmatic advertising supply chain.

The news signals a significant step forward following the publication of the ISBA Programmatic Supply Chain Transparency Study, in association with AOP and carried out by PwC, in May 2020.

The transparency study, which looked at disclosed media buys, revealed it was only possible to match 12% of ad impressions, end-to-end, with an average of 15% of supply chain costs (ad spend) unattributable (the ‘unknown delta’.) The report highlighted a lack of standardised data across different suppliers and permission issues between Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) and Supply Side Platforms (SSPs).

To enable advertisers and publishers to act on their existing rights to financial audits of their programmatic supply chains - with the aim to ultimately reduce the size of the unknown delta - the initial work of the Taskforce focused on access to data and the standardisation of data consistency. Through extensive industry collaboration, it has produced a toolkit of three instruments available for adoption by the industry:

The Taskforce is releasing these documents to the industry to ensure every participant can use them for the good of the entire supply chain. They are available to download from the AOP, IAB UK, IPA and ISBA websites.

As part of the Taskforce’s need to understand the efficacy of the new instruments, ISBA’s advertiser members are preparing a controlled test and learn study with PwC from live audits.

As well as good practice learning and aggregating findings to share with the Taskforce to manage refinements, this will also deliver evidence to demonstrate expected improvements in match rates and, thus a reduction in the size of the ‘unknown delta’.



Richard Reeves, Managing Director at AOP “Now a set of tools has been agreed and created to improve financial audit transparency for programmatic advertising, the next step for us will be to encourage all our members to work with supply chain partners who have agreed to adopt all three instruments. While an initial strategy has been unveiled, the Taskforce will continue to evolve and work collectively to drive industry standardisation and facilitate further change - and transparency - in the digital supply chain.”

Tim Elkington, Chief Digital Officer, IAB UK: “This set of tools, developed by all parts of the industry, are a solid step in improving transparency and accountability within the programmatic supply chain. It’s now crucial that businesses start using them so that we can review how effective they are and the impact they have on the ability of advertisers to conduct financial audits across the supply chain. Over the past couple of years, there has been a concerted effort by our ad tech members to address the issues raised in the ISBA/PwC report. The tools we have jointly developed with the industry add to this progress.”

Sara Vincent, Senior Director, Strategic Partner Development, Index Exchange: “This new set of tools are a key advancement in allowing a financial audit of the programmatic supply chain, and we’re proud of the collaborative work done across the ecosystem in developing them. Driving industry adoption of these tools is critical. This will further transparency across the ecosystem and will contribute to achieving accountability in the supply chain."

Nigel Gwilliam, Director of Media Affairs, IPA "As with the PwC Study two years ago, our agency members are ready to work hand in glove with their clients to deliver the next set of supply chain financial audits. There is every expectation that developments in the industry since the study will deliver improved match rates and greater clarity."

Clare O’Brien, Head of Performance & Programmatic, ISBA “Establishing the means by which it will now be possible to carry out financial audits of the programmatic supply chain is a huge first step forward and testament to the collaborative power of industry stakeholders to drive positive change for the benefit of all. Indications are since our study’s finding 2 years ago, there have been significantly increased impression match rates and commensurate reductions in the unknown delta. We now look forward to thoroughly testing these new tools and continuing to work at industry level with the Taskforce to expand advertiser and publisher’s ability to manage their supply chains.”

Nick Ashley, Head of Media and Campaign Planning, Tesco “This is great news for advertisers. At Tesco we have wanted this transparency for some time. It levels up the programmatic supply chain with other media channels in terms of auditability.”


Press Contacts

AOP Kerry Ritchie, GingerMay +44 (0) 203 642 1124

IAB Jessie Sampson + 44 (0) 7917 831694

IPA Sylvia Wood +44 (0) 207 201 8247 / 07881 957294

ISBA Abi Slater +44 (0) 7917 048835

About Association of Online Publishers

Association of Online Publishers (AOP) is an industry body representing digital publishing companies that create original, branded, quality content. AOP champions the interests of media owners from diverse backgrounds including newspaper and magazine publishing, TV and radio broadcasting, and pure online media. For more information, please visit

About IAB UK

The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB UK) is the industry body for digital advertising, committed to building a sustainable future for digital advertising. We do this by bringing the industry together through our members to tackle and address the big issues, celebrate digital innovation and help businesses prepare for the future. Visit our website.

About The IPA

Incorporated by Royal Charter, the IPA’s role is: to advance the value, theory and practice of advertising, media and marketing communications; to promote best practice standards in these fields; and to ensure that the work it does will benefit the public, the wider business community and the national economy.

It has a well-earned reputation for thought leadership, best practice and continuous professional development and also provides core support and advisory services. Its membership base is predominantly made up of corporate members who collectively handle over 85% of the UK’s annual £22bn ad spend and who represent over 4,000 brands and employ over 25,000 staff. Based in the United Kingdom for nearly 100 years, IPA programmes can be found in more than 60 countries worldwide.

About ISBA

ISBA is the only body that represents brand owners advertising in the UK. We empower them to understand the industry and shape its future because we bring together a powerful community of marketers with common interests; lead decision-making with knowledge and insight; and give a single voice to advocacy for the improvement of the industry.

ISBA is a member of the Advertising Association and represents advertisers on the Committee of Advertising Practice and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice, sister organisations of the Advertising Standards Association, which are responsible for writing the Advertising Codes. We are also members of the World Federation of Advertisers. We can use our leadership role in such bodies to set and promote high industry standards as well as a robust self-regulatory regime.