"This certification is relevant for the entire industry"

At the Swiss Media Research Day 2023, WEMF and Goldbach presented the Better Prediction Initiative (BPI) and the first resulting product, the Prediction Accuracy Check (PAC). In an interview with Dr. Marc Sele, Executive Director of Data and Tools at WEMF, Thomas Plattner, Director Agency Sales / Dep. Managing Director at Goldbach, talks about their pioneering role and the concrete results of the first PAC certificate.

Hello, Thomas Plattner. Why is Goldbach involved in the Better Prediction Initiative (BPI), the initiative for transparency in the online advertising market? Is this a consequence of the foreseeable end of 3rd party cookies?
We would not describe our participation in the BPI as a direct consequence of the imminent end of 3rd party cookies. We have been dealing with the topic of "quality and transparency in online delivery" for several years and have repeatedly implemented corresponding approaches in the past, often before they became the market standard (e.g. EdAA Trust Seal, TCF EdAA Trust Seal, TCF, viewability with Digital Ad Trust Switzerland, etc.).
In this respect, we believe it is only logical to make the area of predictions more tangible for our customers, as many customers still perceive this as a "black box". The WEMF initiative is therefore exactly the right approach for us to put the quality discussion with our clients on a neutral and externally validated footing.

Goldbach took on a pioneering role by participating in the Prediction Accuracy Check (PAC) as the first service offered by the BPI. The PAC is about validating and verifying online targeting predictions. What do you think of the initial results of your certificate?
We at Goldbach are very pleased with the results. Achieving an overall score of almost 90 out of a maximum of 100 points is a result to be proud of!

Specifically: What data did Goldbach have validated? And which will be validated in the future?
We compared the prediction results for age and gender of the 20-minute platforms with the WEMF data, both separately and together with the largest platforms in the Goldbach display network (which are already available from the WEMF). This involved comparing aggregated age and gender distributions per platform and checking how similar these distributions are. In the future, we may be able to include additional platforms - and, if already possible, other networks.

Which results surprised you positively?
We even achieved a score of over 97 for the "gender" feature, which indicates a very high quality of prediction. This clearly exceeded our expectations.

And what lessons have been learned?
We scored slightly lower for the "age" feature, which is partly due to the methodology with more age groups to be included, but we have also identified points here where there is still slight potential for optimization.

How did your customers react when you announced your certification by the WEMF?
We received a lot of interested and positive feedback from our advertising customers. They recognize the value of such certification and also the relevance for the industry as a whole. We therefore hope that other players will join in to further improve transparency in the market.

In order to participate in the PAC, Goldbach had to provide insight into its data structures. This is information that is normally highly protected. What was it like to open these doors to the WEMF?
Admittedly, we had to jump over our shadows. Granting an outsider access to such information was new and unusual for us - even though the WEMF is a well-known and reputable currency research institute. However, it is extremely rare for our data specialists to exchange information with third parties at this level. In addition to legal checks, it therefore took a lot of time and commitment on both sides and we had to approach each other with questions and analyses.

In your opinion, was participation in the PAC worthwhile and would you undergo this review process again?
Absolutely. Giving the market more certainty in the area of prediction and targeting, i.e. shedding more light on the "black box", was more than worth the effort. And, of course, it is important to us to gain new insights into whether and how new data and our optimization work affect the results by re-examining our predictions.

How does Goldbach see the future of online advertising in Switzerland in view of the increasing pressure from major international players who offer the market no transparency whatsoever?
The pressure is indeed enormous. We therefore believe it is extremely important to support and promote clear quality and transparency issues in the Swiss online advertising market to the best of our ability. We want to send out a clear signal here - because ultimately, customers should be able to clearly see why they are booking with us. That is why this certificate, which is the result of a lengthy process, is so important.

Two major industry associations, the SWA and the LSA, support the BPI. What do you think is needed for the initiative to become an industry solution?
Other Swiss players in the online advertising market need to be willing to support the initiative and take part in the certification process. We firmly believe that this transparency offensive will make it easier for advertising customers to obtain more certainty about the quality of their targeting bookings.