Please describe how your company supports the local media industry? What makes you unique in this space?

Rehberg: The Alliance for Audited Media is a not-for-profit media auditing organization that exists to help media buyers buy, and sellers sell. We were founded all the way back in 1914 as the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) to bring order and transparency to media. Our goal has always been to help connect publishers, marketers and agencies by delivering authentic, credible data to the market. As the industry and our clients’ needs industry change, we work closely with industry leaders to adapt and provide verification in other areas such as digital, create standards that help local media stand out, and develop ways for publishers to share all of the good work they do through platforms such as AAM Brand View.

How has COVID changed your business?

Rehberg: Early on, the coronavirus affected many publishers’ day-to-day operations, which impacted their ability to file data and adhere to AAM rules. We also heard from buyers that they still wanted publisher information, as they were trying to adapt to this ever-evolving situation at the same time. We made accommodations to make reporting less time consuming for publishers while continuing to deliver timely data to the market. We also gave publishers a platform to explain how the pandemic impacted their publishing strategies so that they could continue to provide buyers with transparency.

What predictions do you have for the industry in the next year? Next 5 years?

Rehberg: As digital advertising continues to grow, buyers will demand greater digital transparency and assurance, which will only benefit quality publishers. Buyers will invest more in digital media that demonstrate their commitment to quality by incorporating industry standards and best practices into their selling strategy. Much in the same way that print audits became the standard for trust more than a century ago, third-party digital media assurance will become the foundation for every strong buyer/seller relationship.

Media spend will continue to fragment at a greater pace. It’s cliché at this point to state the revenue declines in news media during the transition to digital, however many news organizations have benefitted from the recent uptick in usage as a result of audiences wanting current information from sources they trust. This positions the highest quality large digital audiences (news media in particular) in a unique spot at the top of the audience food chain. The eventual loss of third-party cookies should ultimately benefit those with the highest reach into any given area, too.

How would you describe the state of digital advertising?

Rehberg: Digital advertising has grown significantly in the last few years. But wherever there’s greater investment, there are also bad actors who try to siphon some of it away. The industry is coming together and collaborating in new and exciting ways to reduce ad fraud and help quality publishers stand out. Publishers will need to take advantage of these solutions to ensure that their ad delivery systems are minimizing fraud risk and that they are getting the recognition they deserve for being safe places for advertisers’ investments.

How great of a problem is ad fraud? What can companies do to protect themselves?

Rehberg: While there are many solutions and resources developed to detect and minimize fraud, it’s still a considerable problem since fraudsters can adapt their tactics to pass through fraud detection solutions. Publishers should take advantage of a variety of resources and approach ad fraud holistically. To help grow the universe of audited websites, we’re offering the AAM Digital Publisher Audit as a complementary service for all AAM publishers through 2021. Publishers that complete the audit are included on the Audited Domain List, a free resource buyers use to build inclusion lists and prioritize audited publishers in DSPs. The audit also helps by providing publishers recommendations for site optimization, which is valuable feedback that can give audited publishers an edge over their competitors.

Join LMA for a free webinar about The State of Digital Advertising for News Media, hosted by AAM, on Sept. 28. Learn more and register here.