This is the fourth in a series of blog posts on combating the industry issues of ad fraud, non-human traffic and viewability. These posts will break down key impacts to the advertising ecosystem and share how Comscore is leading the way in tackling these issues so that media buyers and sellers can stay ahead of the fraudsters.
The digital media industry has spent the last year trying to get to the bottom of ad fraud and non-human traffic (NHT). As the impacts of NHT became apparent – in not only wasted ad impressions, but also low viewability, skewed audience data and depressed ROI – the industry has started drawing battle lines to defend its advertising territory. With this motivation, much of the media conversation has focused on how important it is for media sellers in the digital ad ecosystem to clean up the issue.
And while it is in media sellers’ best interest to clean up the ecosystem, media buyers can certainly help drive change by pushing for transparency and high-quality inventory, and ensuring marketing budgets put spending into the digital advertising ecosystem. And that means that media buyers play their own vital role in fighting ad fraud.
Why? There are three main reasons:
Protect your client relationships
First and foremost, it’s vital to acknowledge that everyone on the buy side of the table (agencies and brands) is in fact also a seller in the sense that they need to show verified results to both internal managers and external clients to justify the digital campaigns that they have recommended and executed. Without digital dollars flowing from brands, digital agencies cease to exist – or at the very least shrink and consolidate. If buy-ins from the CMO or CFO are not happening because of a lack of trust in advertising, marketing budgets will shrink or become nonexistent for digital marketing managers.
Protect the dollars that flow to digital
It is absolutely critical for there to be trust in the industry as a whole – and, specifically, campaign metrics – to justify continued investment in digital over other forms of media such as traditional TV and cable. With the TV Upfronts and Newfronts happening during this time of year, it’s important to note that TV advertising sellers are, for the first time, highlighting issues of viewability and NHT as reasons why media buyers should buy TV over online. Recently, The Wall Street Journal posted an article on a TV seller highlighting bad actors “in certain parts of the digital ecosystem.” Neglecting to address the issues of viewability, NHT and ad fraud, ad buyers will experience slower growth in their budgets and will need to continually address arguments from TV and cable sellers that digital campaign metrics can’t be trusted – even though audiences are spending more and more time consuming content across digital platforms.
Protect the quality and transparency of your industry
The last reason that it is important for buyers to be proactive about taking down NHT is a simple but powerful one: the buy-side holds much of the power to fuel change with its advertising dollars. When buyers are careful to put their money into quality inventory, the sell-side is incentivized to get clean. Simple things such as enforcing whitelists in vetting inventory, ensuring the identity of the media seller when sending payment for a campaign, and reviewing evidence of ad fraud directly rather than passing it along to their vendor (ad security or agency partner) would dramatically curtail issues of NHT. Furthermore, the technology exists for advertising platforms to integrate metrics such as historical NHT and viewability delivery into their inventory selection, surfacing the quality inventory that buyers need. Media buyers can jump start the industry as a whole to get clean by demanding transparency in these platforms. But far too few buyers actually take these steps on a day to day basis.
Media buyers are a driving force in the advertising ecosystem and they have the opportunity to influence a number of factors in the fight against ad fraud. Making demands for a trusted and transparent industry with high-quality inventory can pave the way for the industry to work together as a whole to ensure ads are doing what they are meant to – elicit feelings, emotions or behaviors among target consumers.
To learn more about how NHT affects the key differentiators of ad inventory, download our report on non-human traffic
Other articles in this series: