Total Media’s Celine Saturnino on Digital Ads, US Vs TikTok, and Programmatic Transparency

On this week's episode of The MadTech Podcast, Celine Saturnino, COO of Total Media, joins ExchangeWire editor Grace Dillon and COO Lindsay Rowntree to discuss digital ads becoming more relevant, TikTok opening their algorithms to the US, the latest ISBA and PwC Programmatic Transparency report, and more.

Consumers finding digital ads more relevant

Are these findings surprising considering the impact of ATT and other changes to data collection?

Consumers could be receiving more digital ads that are relevant to their interests. That’s according to CivicScience, who found that 41% of US adults think that the majority of digital advertisements are at least “somewhat” connected to their interests, a 6% increase from March last year and an 11% jump from March 2021. The number of people clicking on ads that they consider applicable to them also saw double-digit growth, rising from 43% in March 2022 to 56% in January 2023. 

The survey found that Gen Z and “young millennials” (those under the age of 35) are more likely to deem ads as “highly relevant” than their older counterparts, with only 3% of adults over the age of 35 doing so. Furthermore, consumers who use social media were more than twice as likely to describe the digital ads they see as relevant. TikTok proved to be the platform with the most relevant ads, although the percentage of users who called the ads they see there “highly relevant” has declined by 3%.

TikTok offer to open algorithms to US

Will TikTok have to cede some control to stay in the US, and will sharing their algorithms be enough to assuage security concerns?

TikTok have reportedly offered to make the algorithms behind video recommendations available to US authorities. The proposal would see the social media giant opening the software that determines which videos US viewers see, how videos are moderated, and how they are deleted for monitoring by US tech companies. 

The move is a bid to avoid being banned from the country, with TikTok having reportedly promised to carry out a USD $1.5bn (~£1.2bn) reorganisation of US operations in order to be more transparent. The short-form video app has already been barred from all mobile devices issued by the US House of Representatives due to security concerns, and Congress is currently reviewing proposed legislation for a nationwide ban. The Chinese government’s reported plans to acquire shares in TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, in order to gain a say over how it operates is expected to exacerbate US legislators' fears.

UK programmatic supply chain has become more transparent, say ISBA

Does this report give you confidence about the transparency of the supply chain?

The transparency of the UK’s programmatic supply chain has improved, according to the second Programmatic Supply Chain Transparency study to be carried out by ISBA and PwC. The latest report has found that the ‘unknown delta’ — the term given to an unaccounted for proportion of advertising spend — has fallen from the 15% recorded in 2020 to just 3%. PwC’s Sam Tomlinson, who led the report, said that high-end tech vendors have improved their data handling and sharing operations, which has accounted for the fall in unattributable spend. 

According to the study, the proportion of ad spend that goes to publishers has increased over the past two years, up from 51% in 2020 to 65% in 2022. Analysing 1.3 billion ad impressions across the websites of a raft of UK publishers, the 2022 study also found that the number of impressions that could be matched across the programmatic process increased dramatically, rising from just 12% in 2020 to 58% in 2022.