By Heather Kramer
Programmatic digital – the buying and selling of ad impressions over automated platforms – has become increasingly popular due to its ability to increase and maximize marketing spend and efficiency. But with every panacea, there is a dark side. The automated nature of this technology has bred new life of fraud and vulnerability, creating a conundrum for publishers and marketers, alike.
Spending on digital advertising—which includes social media and mobile devices—is expected to rise nearly 17 percent to $50 billion in the United States this year. That would be about 28 percent of total U.S. ad spending. Just five years ago, digital accounted for 16 percent, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Conversely, industry executives (depending on your source) believe 35-50 percent of all web traffic is non-human. The “bad guys” have invaded our space and devised ways to game the industry for profit by creating loopholes for click farms, click-through channels, and other advanced technologies, such as ad stacking.
Combined or individually, these forms of fraud can severely effect your online campaign integrity by skewing click-through rates, cost, and subsequent analytical variables that, at the end of the day, cost you, the advertiser, and everyone along the digital marketing food chain.
So, will the penetration of malicious technology impact the online advertising industry? Of course, online ad industry leaders and advocates have already begun to address this issue with the development of best practice guidelines, watchdog groups, and private sector monitoring programs and software. The industry is far from perfect, but in a high growth environment, you can expect glitches in the matrix as the ecosystem evolves.
How can you protect the integrity of your online campaigns and ad spend and what can do you to make sure your technology/vendors are also looking out for your best interest?
If you are involved with digital marketing and are concerned about your campaign performance, remember — prevention, awareness, and vendor transparency are key. It is most important to get involved in the planning and live optimization of your digital campaigns, so that you can monitor for suspected bot activity and fraud. Selecting the right vendor and making yourself aware of industry trends will also aid in your digital marketing success. Lastly, if you are able to shift your campaign goals to a CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) or ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) model, you will be looking at metrics that have the most impact on you digital advertising efforts, and avoiding those that may encourage fraudulent activity.
If you would like to discuss this topic, or any other topic in the digital media industry, please feel free to reach out to me!
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