“I’ll Gladly Pay You Tuesday, For a Hamburger Today”

20 Mar

digital media accountabilityThe title of this article, a quote uttered by the character Wimpy in E.C. Segar’s long running Popeye cartoon series could be an apt metaphor for the digital media marketplace.  

Well, perhaps the tide has begun to turn.  Just recently, the ANA aggressively spoke out regarding the lack of accountability within the digital media sector citing recent research studies which have pegged viewability levels at approximately 50%.  

Other concerns cited by the ANA include the lack of a cross platform audience delivery measurement standard and the fact that there isn’t one, unbiased entity which is responsible for developing such a standard.  The ANA has announced that they will convene a “measurement summit” to begin to address this issue with the intent to advance their support for an e-grp standard.  We believe that this is a noble endeavor and applaud the ANA for taking the lead on such a worthwhile initiative.  

However, in light of past measurement discussions and the amount of time which it takes for the industry to coalesce around such issues this is clearly a long-term proposition. 

So what is at risk in the near-term?  Let’s step back and take a look at the scope of the digital media challenge.  Digital media has grown in excess of 12% – 15% per annum over the course of the last several years and that meteoric growth seems likely to continue unabated.  According to Magna Global, global media spending is projected to hit $521.6 billion in 2014 and on the strength of another year of double-digit growth, digital media will represent 24% of that total.  

Speaking at the 4A’s conference, Bob Liodice, Chairman of the ANA suggested that if the industry doesn’t address these concerns that advertisers will begin to “pull dollars off of the table.”  In light of the growing share of global media spend represented by digital media, this seems highly unlikely.  Compounding the challenge is the fact that as an industry, advertisers appear to be perfectly comfortable throwing away 50 cents of every dollar spent on digital media, thus providing little impetus for reform. 

The irony is that absent a viable cross platform measurement standard and in the case of most advertisers, the lack of meaningful attribution modeling capabilities, there is no rational basis for the growth of digital media.  It would appear that Seneca, the Roman statesman, dramatist and philosopher was right when he suggested that; 

“Every man prefers belief to the exercise of judgment.”

Based upon a number of research studies recently conducted, one could easily discount the viability of the 50% of the digital ads which have the potential to be seen.  The validation of consumer engagement levels with digital media poses its own set of challenges.  Thus it is ludicrous to think that publicly traded companies would allow 25% of their media budgets to be invested (using the term loosely) into such a non-transparent sector of the industry with little in the way of controls or oversight.  

In reality, however unlikely it may be, Mr. Liodice’s suggestion that advertisers pull dollars out of digital circulation is the best path to accelerating much needed reform.

For advertisers interested in learning more about improving transparency into their marketing and media investment, contact Cliff Campeau, Principal at Advertising Audit & Risk Management, LLC at ccampeau@aarmusa.com for a complimentary consultation on the topic. 

 

 

 

 

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