Exposing The Problem With Ad Networks Clients Never See
This group of employees has been together for a while now, and they are very good at what they are paid to do: take orders, serve orders and efficiently collect revenue to keep the line moving. But that doesn't mean there are never any lines. So when I walked in this morning and the line was unusually backed up to the door, I took notice of how the buyers in the line -- rather than the folks behind the counter -- contributed to the problem.
I watched as an employee tried valiantly to gain the attention of a customer to get her order started before arriving at the cash register, but was ignored because the customer was on her cell phone. Then I watched this same customer end her call, order two complex coffees, and spend an agonizing 39 seconds deciding what donuts to order. She had been in line for approximately eight minutes facing the menu above the actual products for sale -- and yet when she got to the register, she didn't know what she wanted to order? Once her order was shared, she was told how much it would cost -- and that's when she began to search frantically for her wallet, as if she were surprised this transaction she'd stood in line to make, would require money.
Whenever there is a problem with a buying experience, we always assume the folks behind the counter doing the selling are causing it. This morning's experience waiting in line made it clear that, in some cases, buyers are more to blame when a purchase experience sours.
My professional issues with how ad networks sell impressions are many and valid. My core issue however, is the lack of transparency in which they sell. Transparency is not telling clients where their ads can run -- it's showing clients where their ads did run.
So when my research uncovered ad messages from ABC Television, Allstate Insurance, Ally Bank, Bayer, Boost Mobile, Ford Motors, Garnier, Principal Financial Group, Slim Jim, and Toyota as pre-rolls and/or overlays to sexually explicit video content on Dailymotion.com, I wondered: Is this a problem? And if so, was it caused by the video ad network's sales force that sold these impressions -- or the buyers who bought them?
Or am I completely wrong about this? Maybe the sellers who sold these impressions and the buyers who bought them, met with the clients who paid for them and said, "Oh yeah, one more thing: as part of this incredibly efficient buy, your ads will run next to content you would never want to see your ads running next to."
And the clients all responded, "Sure, not a problem."
Author's Note: This is my last column of the year. I am no expert -- just a guy with experience in this business sharing it willingly. I have been writing this column since it started in 2005. I am happy to keep writing in 2011, but in the spirit of social media, you need to weigh in. Please comment below with a "YES" if you prefer I remain in this OPI lineup, or simply write "NO" if you would be interested in hearing a new voice. Either way you vote, I want to thank you for your time and attention these past five years.