You’d have to work hard to miss the flurry over ad tech, ad blockers, (click this for an insightful read via @Recode, and all kinds of ad-clicking bot madness in recent weeks. Ad fraud has the industry (not to mention the Internet) in a headspin. Maybe a tailspin. Summing up, Bloomberg says:
“…in the digital world, you’re just paying for the ad to be served, and there’s no guarantee who will see it, or whether a human will see it at all.”
Fake ad traffic, it turns out, will cost advertisers US$6.3 billion this year. Per WhiteOps’ The Bot Baseline: Fraud in Digital Advertising, up to 11% of display ad and 25% of video ad views are bot-generated. Scammy “click monkeys” artificially generate views, meaning advertisers pay for fake engagement that never actually reaches human eyes (or, in related scams, reach human eyes that earn a micro-payment to view or click as directed).
Bad, bad, bad.
“Fake traffic has become a commodity. There’s malware for generating it and brokers who sell it.”
Some estimate that 50% of paid traffic might be attributable to bots. And when video ads alone represent a US$7.8 billion industry, there’s a heck of a lot at stake.
There’s a shakeup at play, or at least an eye opener. A lot of the models many advertisers relied on were too obvious, too lazy, and clearly way too easy to game. “Botgate” is a wake-up call, and it goes beyond the Internet. Apple is taking a stand. With iOS9, they not only allow but encourage developers to strip advertising and tracking from their builds. As investor and LAUNCH ringleader Jason Calacanis recently pointed out, “They added this feature deliberately; it’s not a hack by developers they’ve turned a blind eye to.”
Everyday people are also paying attention. They’re increasingly savvy about experiencing web and mobile on their own terms, as this simple scan for search terms reveals.
Advertisers have to start thinking differently about the terms of engagement – the relevance they deliver and the fundamental premise of what would make a “consumer” (a term we need to rethink, IMHO) respond to an ad.
You’ve probably sensed we’re paying a lot of attention to that premise (and promise). We see a huge opportunity to create context and value through all of the content we share with users, and how we engage brands, venues, talent and others in that equation. It’s a long-term story and not an obvious one, and especially as this “adtech” brouhaha comes to a fairly predictable head it’s one we believe in deeply. As we get ready to share more, we’ll close with two memorable quotes from the “Father of Advertising,” visionary David Ogilvy:
“A good advertisement is one which sells the product without drawing attention to itself.”
“There is no need for advertisements to look like advertisements. If you make them look like editorial pages, you will attract about 50 per cent more readers.”
We’d update that second quote a bit for this beyond “editorial pages” era – but you get where we’re going. As new wariness closes in on ad tech as usual, real opportunities (and real eyes, not only eyeballs) open up for those who think different.