Tag Archives: Interactive Advertising Bureau

When it Comes to Programmatic Digital the “Same-Old, Same-Old” Isn’t Working

26 Feb

EinsteinMedia’s murky supply chain, wrought by fraud and congested with too many intermediaries between advertisers and publishers, continues to serve up challenges for digital media advertisers.

The fraudsters at it again with a devious approach to separating advertisers from their media spend. As if digital ad fraud practices including fake devices, fake locations, fake impressions and fake consent strings weren’t enough, the media industry now has to deal with a sophisticated domain spoofing bot.

According to an article in The Drum, fraudsters have now launched bot networks to evade ads.text protections, which was introduced by the IAB to allow publishers to “list authorized sellers” of their inventory. Both DoubleVerify and Integrated Ad Science (IAS) have unearthed fraudulent activity using 404bots, which employ domain spoofing techniques that misrepresent URLs, making buyers “believe that they are getting valid inventory, when in fact it does not exist.” IAS suggests that more than 1.5 billion ads have been impacted since September of 2019.

When will it end? Likely never. Ad fraud is to lucrative and too difficult to detect, creating a literal gold mine for fraudsters. In fact, the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) estimates that “over the next 10 years, the global cost of ad fraud is projected to rise to $50 billion. The best defense for advertisers according to Shawn Lim, author of the aforementioned article, is “Brands and publishers need to work with transparent supply chains, reputable supply partners, and know what ads are appearing – and where.”

If you’re an advertiser, you would be right to pose the question; “Who has my back?” For all of the money invested by digital advertisers in specialist agency support, fraud detection services and brand safety tools, who is safeguard their funds? It seems as though the only thing advertisers have to show, for the promise of efficiency that was ushered in by programmatic digital media, is suppressed working media ratios.

The risks continue to mount as the amount spent on digital media in the U.S. is approximately $79 billion, with 85% of the total transacted programmatically (source: Interactive Advertising Bureau, February 2020). eMarketer estimates that advertisers spent 38% of their non-social programmatic display budgets on programmatic fees in 2019, a 20% increase over the prior year.

As one example of the congested digital media ecosystem, Danny Khatib, CEO of Granite Media wrote an excellent article in AdExchanger illustrating the inefficiency of the programmatic digital media supply-chain. Entitled; “Can We Please Reduce This Link In The Programmatic Chain Already?” the article advocates for consolidation between the DSPs and SSPs, long thought to function respectively as buyer and seller advocates, with “each taking a 15-20% cut and confusing the heck out of the web ecosystem in the process.” According to Mr. Khatib, “there really shouldn’t be a traditional SSP business separate from a DSP business – that distinction no longer makes sense, if it ever did.”

No wonder advertisers have stepped up compliance and performance audits of their suppliers and have heartily begun to embrace supply-chain optimization. The madness has to end and fueling investments in specialist agencies and adtech solutions is simply not achieving the desired result.

 “Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”          

~Albert Einstein


Still Want to Buy a Banner Ad?

26 Sep

banner ads are broken


Much has been written about the unprecedented rate of growth in digital media spending by advertisers.  But it pays to restate a few facts to help provide some context for this article: 

  • Digital ad spending will hit $140 billion in 2014
  • Compound annual growth for digital spending will average 16% through 2018
  • The compound annual growth rate for total media spend will be 5% through 2018
  • Digital media will account for 1 of every 3 dollars spent on advertising in 2018 

(Source: Ybrant Digital, soon to be re-branded as Lycos, September, 2014) 

What is amazing is that this growth is being achieved in spite of serious questions about the efficacy of certain digital media formats and continued concern regarding the level of fraudulent activity, which continues unabated.  In a recent article for Digiday entitled; “Why digital ads are broken beyond repair” Faris Yakob provides some disheartening evidence that is sure to provide pause to some advertisers.  

According to Mr. Yakob, banner ads, which rank among the oldest and most popular types of digital media in use with “more than 5 trillion banner ads served in the U.S. in 2012” may not warrant the share of advertiser spending which they presently command.  Why?  The author points out that according to a 2009 comScore study “85% of all clicks are derived from 8% of users.” Further, he cites Interactive Advertising Bureau estimates which suggest that “36% of all web traffic is considered fake” to support his supposition that from a media perspective banners are broken.” 

The question raised by the repeated challenges and allegations being leveled at digital media is a simple one; “When are advertisers, publishers, ad agencies, technology intermediaries and industry associations going to get serious about reforming this media channel?”  

Sadly, the answer may be “never” or at least, not as long as advertiser investment in digital media continues to outpace that of traditional media by a rate of three to one.  After all, why should the industry invest in expensive, time extensive and complex reforms when the absence of any such performance governors has not limited the flow of ad dollars into digital media? 

We’re all familiar with the popular quote by 19th century merchant John Wanamaker: 

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” 

Given his perspective on marketing efficiency, there is little doubt that Mr. Wanamaker would be a supporter of the proposed move to a viewable impression standard.  If adopted, this new audience delivery currency would serve to counterbalance some of the issues related to click quality and fraudulent activity.  While more needs to be done to protect the interests of advertisers and publishers alike, this would be a positive first step toward reform. 


Can the News Get Any Worse for Digital Advertisers?

21 Feb

digital media fraudTwo articles published on February 18, one by Reid Tatoris in Marketing Daily which asserts that when it comes to online advertising there are “only 8% of impressions that have an opportunity to be seen by a real person” and the second by Joanna O’Connell, Director of Research for AdExchanger questioning the transparency of programmatic media buys, should raise the hackles of anyone playing in the digital media marketplace.

Mr.Tatoris begins his argument by correctly establishing the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) definition of an online ad impression:

A measurement of responses from a web server to a page request from the user browser.”

Based upon this industry accepted definition he suggests that an impression “does not equal an ad opportunity” and proceeds to profile a number of items which can derail the process, most notably the fact that “60% of all traffic on the web is bots.”  Once again, it appears as though the industry’s prowess at trafficking digital ads has outpaced its ability to both measure actual audience deliveries and or to police the legitimacy of the thousands of “hundreds of thousands of websites” that exist today.

When you combine the ongoing concern about the efficacy of the digital advertising delivery with the transparency challenges associated with programmatic media buying, the risk to advertisers escalates. 

Programmatic buying integrates advertiser data with technology assisted processes and intelligence allowing advertisers or their agency trading desk partners to bid on inventory being offered on ad exchanges by publishers.  Automated buying, which often occur on a real-time basis, grew 75% in 2013 to $3.5 billion according to eMarketer and is likely to grow another 38% in 2014. 

There are numerous advantages associated with programmatic buying, including looking at impressions down to the individual level.  However, one of the perceived limitations is the lack of transparency in and around the caliber of the inventory being purchased and the price being paid for that inventory. 

Thus, in light of the impact of impression dilution between purchased and delivered suggested by Mr. Tratoris, and the concerns over the quality, if not quantity, of impressions delivered via programmatic media buys, an advertiser might legitimately ask, “What are we getting and what did we pay for it?” 

In spite of this dynamic, digital media continues to grow, representing approximately 25% of total U.S. ad spend in 2013 and, according to eMarketer, this could grow to 31% of total spend by 2017.  Rather than getting serious about enhanced measurement, improved transparency and fraud protection, the industry rallying cry seems to be “ready, fire, aim” with regard to the efficacy of this media channel and its audience delivery capabilities. 


IAB Guidelines for Protection Against Traffic Fraud

20 Feb

IAB Traffic Fraud Guidelines

January 30, 2014 – The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) “Traffic of Good Intent Task Force” recently released guidelines for advertisers to protect themselves from traffic fraud.  Click here to review their recommendations for safeguarding your online advertising investment. 

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