In the Nova Advertising blog, Lateef Mauricio highlights something you’ve definitely realized if you’ve ever been annoyed by online video ads: they can ruin a site’s user experience if not done carefully. “Online streaming video websites that don’t consider user experience as a key priority are dooming themselves,” he writes, “by haphazardly inserting streaming advertisements.”
Mauricio points out a number of shortcomings with most online video ads:
- They often take a long time to load.
- They’re usually too long, and sometimes longer than the video itself! (Nothing like a 30-second ad before 15-second clip of a goofy squirrel).
- They’re often unskippable, which is especially annoying if the ad is one you’ve seen many times before.
- Some of the more ad-hungry websites will show you an ad, then your video, and then another ad—as Mauricio calls it, an ad sandwich.
We’ve written a lot about the need to move beyond impressions to new metrics that more accurately measure whether or not an ad actually reached a real person. Writing in Digiday, staff writer Jack Marshall addresses this same topic with a question that’s been on all of our minds: WTF is viewability?
As we’ve talked about before, viewability is far from a perfect metric—a viewable ad is not necessarily one that was actually seen by a real person. Still, as a metric, viewability is a big step up from mere impressions.
A shift to viewability (or an even better metric) seems like it’d be a big win for everyone in the online ad ecosystem. Yet not everyone is excited about the potential for such a shift. Here’s a breakdown of who thinks what about viewability:
- The IAB is 100% on board. They want the entire industry to better standards, to eliminate wasted ad dollars.
- Marketers would see increases in their campaigns’ performance with a shift to viewability, since they’d only pay for impressions that were actually viewable. Even if the cost of views was higher than the cost of impressions, the reduced waste would likely mean that they were still saving money.
- Some publishers are nervous. They’re worried that a shift to viewability could have a negative impact on their ad revenues, since they’d probably be left with fewer views to sell. Of course, we believe that publishers will be able to charge more for that inventory, since it will be more valuable. But it’s understandable for publishers to be nervous.
What do you think about a shift to viewability?
Confused about the basics of the digital ad world? You’re not the only one. That’s why we made this graphic with the four key facts everyone needs to know about online ads.
Take a look. Some of what you find might surprise you.
Recently, IAB President and CEO Randall Rothenberg offered up a particularly choice metaphor for the current problems in the digital advertising world:
“The digital advertising industry must stop having unprotected sex.”
What did he mean? Rothenberg goes on to explain:
The supply chain by which digital advertising is created, delivered, measured, and optimized is so porous and perilous that it jeopardizes consumer trust and business growth. The risk is so severe that the underlying innovativeness of the Internet itself is in danger of grinding to a halt—unless the interactive advertising industry agrees to police its own precincts and root out the malefactors.
Many players in the online ad industry are turning a blind eye to the rampant problems of fraud and non-viewable ads, and in doing so, we’re risking a massive backlash. There are many players involved in the advertising supply chain, and they’re all exchanging fluids in the form of cash flow. But some of the players are rather unsavory, and advertisers need to better protect their ads before they’re associated with the dark side of the internet: fraud, viruses, and spam.
Here’s our questionnaire to discern whether you’ll have a healthy or regretful transaction:
1. Is your traffic human?
We asked this question so often, we named our company after it. And it’s a good question to ask, as 25% of the digital ad market is fraudulent. Annually, ad fraud drains advertising budgets by $6 billion.
2. Is your ad actually being viewed?
Flip a coin to find out. According to Business Insider, “46 percent of online advertisements are served to websites and charged to advertisers without consumers ever having had the chance to see them.” Why? There are a number of factors at play, including people leaving web pages before an ad loads, odd placement of ads on-screen, and shady “pop-under” ads.
3. Is your ad served in a brand-safe context?
Brand association is a powerful thing:
As Rothenberg says: “Innovations that have improved the quality of life on a scale not seen since the industrial revolution will be stymied if the digital advertising supply chain is not fixed.”
We couldn’t agree more. It’s time to step up the fight against waste and fraud.
Writing in Business Insider, Jim Edwards tells the story of Raaj Brar, an entrepreneur who recently discovered that his company’s Facebook page had been liked thousands of times by fake accounts. Since Brar was running ad campaigns that targeted his Facebook fan base, these fake likes meant real money lost for his business.
But unlike most other ad fraud, the fraud Brar discovered was unintentional—even on the part of the fraudsters. Edwards explains:
When you run an ad, people operating fake profiles will click on the ad and like your page simply to make their own fake profile look more genuine, as if it is being operated by a real person…Genuine advertisers attract fake clicks…indirectly, when click farms try to camouflage their fake user profiles by clicking randomly on whatever ads are targeted at them.
Unfortunately, Facebook’s terms of service forbid third-party verification of its clicks, which means that advertisers like Brar don’t have many options when confronted with a situation like this. They can turn a blind eye to their fake likes, or they can stop running Facebook ad campaigns—which is exactly what Brar did.
Brar’s experience is a reminder that not all ad fraud is intentional. Sometimes, fraudulent clicks, views, and likes are just a byproduct of a different kind of questionable activity. But intentional or not, this fraud can still be enough to render an ad campaign completely ineffective.